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Believed to be one of the oldest oilseed crops, sesame seeds and sesame oil have recently started to make a name for themselves. The reason for this sudden popularity is that the new experimental generation of chefs and recent scientific studies that have started to highlight the health benefits of this oil. Indians, Africans, Southeast Asians and Middle Easterners have been using sesame oil in their cuisines for ages. Apart from cooking, it is also used for cosmetic and healing purposes, and for massages and treatments.

Sesame oil has been highly regarded in the Mediterranean and other cultures for centuries and finds extensive use as a massage oil in Ayurvedic treatments. This is beause of its warming and soothing effect on the body.

Different extraction processes give different colour and flavour to the sesame oil. The cold press process mostly used by the Westerners produces has a pale yellow colour, while the Indian sesame oil have a more golden tint. Sesame oil, when prepared from roasted seeds has a distinct brown shade and is used as a flavouring agent instead of in cooking.

Being a polyunsaturated fat, sesame oil is certainly good for your health. It is specifically rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin D, vitamin E, and phosphorous. Some of the proteins present in the sesame oil are beneficial for hair. Though refined oils have replaced traditional oils, some parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh still use sesame oil for making curries and gravies. It is also used in the spice powder served with idlis and dosas. Low-grade oil is also used in soaps, paints, lubricants etc.

According to Ayurveda, sesame oil is most effective in balancing Vata and can also be used for Kapha dosha, two of the three doshas or the regulating forces of nature. It is also used for healthier teeth and gums, and for lubricating bowels.

Basic facts about Sesame oil:

  • Botanical name of Sesame - Sesamum indicum
  • Family - Pedaliaceae
  • Common Name - Til
  • Sanskrit name - Tila
  • Native region and geographical distribution - Though sesame is grown all over the world, Myanmar is the leading producer of sesame oil, producing 18.3% of the world’s total sesame oil production. China is the second largest producer of sesame oil, followed by India.
  • Interesting facts - It is believed that the famous phrase “Open Sesame” from the Ali Baba tale in “One Thousand and One Nights” actually refers to the sesame plant. Sesame seeds grow in a pod that opens when it matures. It is believed that “open sesame” suggests the unlocking of the treasures.
  1. Sesame oil nutrition facts
  2. Sesame oil health benefits
  3. Sesame Oil Side Effects
  4. Takeaway

Sesame oil has 884 kcal per 100 g. Minerals such as Iron and vitamins such as vitamin E and K make this oil very safe and one of the healthiest options. The fatty acid content in sesame oil helps keep the heart healthy and the bad cholesterol levels low.

As per the USDA Nutrient Database, 100 g of sesame oil contains the following nutrients.

Nutrients Value, per 100 g
Energy 884 kcal
Fat 100 g
Minerals  
Iron 12.86 mg
Vitamin  
Vitamin E 1.4 g
Vitamin K 13.6 g
Fats/ Fatty Acids  
Saturated 14.29 g
Monounsaturated 39.7 g
Polyunsaturated 41.7 g

Extensive usage of sesame oil is extensively in Ayurveda and other traditional medicines have prompted modern researchers to look into the healing benefits of this oil. The various nutrients in the oil promote a well balanced and healthy life. Let us see how.

  • Nourishes hair: Sesame oil has a nourishing effect on your scalp and hair. A massage with this oil will not only protect your hair from UV damage but also it prevents hair greying and strengthens your hair shaft.
  • For skin care: Sesame oil prevents skin infections, protects your skin from sun damage and is helpful in reducing skin dryness. Being an antioxidant, sesame oil delays skin ageing.
  • Promotes bone health: Sesame oil is a good source of zinc and calcium. Both these minerals help preserve bone structure and prevent osteoporosis. This oil also contains several bioactive ingredients that reduce inflammation and joint pain in case of arthritis.
  • Oil pulling with sesame oil: Sesame contains natural antibacterial compounds, which makes it an excellent choice for oil pulling and preventing tooth decay. Oil pulling with sesame oil has been found to reduce bacterial count in the oral cavity by 85%.
  • Improves heart health: Regular consumption of sesame oil is known to improve cholesterol levels in body since it is primarily composed of polyunsaturated fats. Hosting a rich antioxidant content, sesame oil prevents atherosclerosis and protects your heart from the deteriorating effects of oxidative stress.
  1. Sesame oil for hair
  2. Sesame oil for skin care
  3. Sesame oil for heart health
  4. Sesame oil for bones
  5. Sesame oil benefits for teeth
  6. Sesame oil for cancer
  7. Sesame oil for anaemia
  8. Sesame oil for diabetes

Sesame oil for hair

Sesame oil hosts a variety of nutrients which makes it the perfect nourishing oil for your hair. However, the active components present in sesame oil provide several other benefits for your hair. Let us explore what a sesame oil massage would do for your mane.

  • Sesame oil helps to moisturise your scalp and hairs, avoiding dryness and frizziness.
  • The antibacterial and antifungal properties of sesame oil help safeguard the scalp from foreign bodies and other pathogens. It is also found beneficial in retaining the natural colour of the hair and strengthening the hair shafts.
  • Sesame oil protects your hair against UV damage by forming a protective coating on your hair surface.
  • It is also believed to prevent hair greying, leaving you with your natural black hairs.

Sesame oil for skin care

Just like its hair benefits, sesame oil is very useful for the skin too. Let us have a look at the benefits of sesame oil for the health and well being of your skin.

  • Sesame oil is rich antioxidants. It helps in the prevention of premature ageing signs like dark spots and wrinkles and enhances the texture of your skin.
  • It has an emollient effect on your skin. This means it provides moisturisation to your skin cells and prevents dry skin. 
  • Application of sesame oil creates a protective layer on the skin, thereby preventing the damages caused due to the exposure to Sun.
  • As an antifungal agent, it is also used to treat fungal infections on the skin.
  • Studies indicate that topical application of sesame oil is useful for reducing pain an inflammation associated with trauma.
  • In a survey conducted in mid-west Ethiopia, it was found that local people use sesame oil mixed with Acmella leaves for application on the wounds. The oil by itself was also used for healing by ancient civilizations.

Sesame oil for heart health

The polyunsaturated fatty acids are one of the main components of the sesame oil. These oils help maintain the low level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and maintain the level of good cholesterol (HDL), which, in turn, prevents atherosclerosis and keeps the heart healthy.

It is low in saturated fats, which is considered to be one of the harmful types of fat and not good for heart health.

Further, the antioxidant profile of sesame oil alleviates the oxidative stress on your heart muscles, making them function optimally. It also plays an important role in atherosclerosis prevention by avoiding lipid peroxidation.

Sesame oil for bones

Sesame oil is enriched with calcium and zinc, which are important minerals needed for bone growth and maintaining bone health. Regular use of sesame oil makes healing from a bone injury faster and also helps in bone growth.

It also prevents osteoporosis and the weakening of the bones along with helping in maintaining joint flexibility.

Sesame oil is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. In a study conducted to check the anti-arthritic effects of sesame oil along with rice bran oil, both were found to be equally effective in reducing the inflammatory effects and pain associated with arthritis.

So, add sesame oil to your diet and say goodbye to weak bones. If you are not a fan of cooking, just buy the roasted oil of sesame seeds and drizzle some in salads.

Sesame oil benefits for teeth

Sesame oil is known for its antibacterial properties which makes it an ideal choice for oil pulling. Oil pulling is a process similar to gargling, where you put oil in your mouth, swish it around before spitting it out. Use of sesame oil in oil pulling lowers the level of plaque, helps get whiter teeth and protects your teeth and gums against several bacteria. In an experiment conducted in Iowa, students gargled their mouth with sesame oil and found an 85% reduction in bacteria.

Sesame oil for cancer

Certain nutrients in sesame oil help in combating different types of cancer. For example, high levels of magnesium lower the chances of colorectal cancer, while calcium content can help prevent colon cancer. Sesame oil contains a phenolic antioxidant compound called sesamol. This compound is said to be effective in preventing different types of cancer.

Sesame oil for anaemia

Sesame oil is rich in copper. Copper is essential for the production of red blood cells. Due to the presence of ample amount of copper in sesame oil, its consumption assures proper blood supply to the body. Also, the presence of iron in sesame oils helps fight anemia

Sesame oil for diabetes

Hypoglycemia and high blood sugar levels are often difficult to manage and diabetics usually find it hard to decide a healthy food for them which does not cause a blood sugar spike. As a hypoglycemic (reducing blood glucose), sesame oil could be the right choice of cooking oil for diabetic people. In a study, it was found that sesame oil and sesame butter are effective in reducing the body glucose levels. While sesame butter showed antioxidative, antihyperglycemic and lipid-lowering effects, sesame oil helped in managing body weight and had the properties to act against hyperglycemia.

In a recent study, white sesame oil was demonstrated to be useful for reducing diabetes symptoms and complications.

According to a clinical study published in the journal, Clinical Nutrition, sesamin present in sesame oil acts synergistically with anti-diabetic medications and may be used in the management of diabetes in long-term.

(Read more: Diabetes treatment)

  • Consumption of sesame oil is not advised for those who are taking anticoagulants such as aspirin, heparin etc. Sesame oil leads to the thinning of blood, therefore taking both at the same time can be harmful.
  • There have been increased incidences of allergies in people who consume sesame oil. If you show any symptoms of allergy after having sesame oil, seek medical help immediately.

Sesame oil is a healthy alternative to other oils available in the market owing to its numerous health benefits. Though the oil is popular in Asia and has many culinary, medicinal and industrial uses, mass production of this oil is limited. The process of extraction of sesame oil is very expensive. The research on the uses of sesame oil is also very limited. The uses and side effects of this oil deserve thorough research. This will help in gaining a deeper understanding on how one can use this oil to achieve its full benefit.

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References

  1. E.S. Oplinger et al. Sesame. Alternative Field Crops Manual: University of Wisconsin- Madison, University of Minnesota, St. Paul
  2. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Basic Report: 04058, Oil, sesame, salad or cooking. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
  3. Nagpurkar Mukta, Patil Neeta M. A REVIEW ON SESAME - AN ETHNO MEDICINALLY SIGNIFICANT OIL CROP . International Journal of Life Science and Pharma Research, VOL 7/ ISSUE2/APRIL2017
  4. Edmund Hsu, Sam Parthasarathy. Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects of Sesame Oil on Atherosclerosis: A Descriptive Literature Review. Cureus. 2017 Jul; 9(7): e1438. PMID: 28924525
  5. Kandangath Raghavan ANILAKUMAR, Ajay PAL, Farhath KHANUM, Amarinder Singh BAWA. Nutritional, Medicinal and Industrial Uses of Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Seeds - An Overview . Agriculturae Conspectus Scientifi cus | Vol. 75 (2010) No. 4 (159-168)
  6. Liu Z et al. Sesamol Induces Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells Apoptosis by Impairing Mitochondrial Function and Suppressing Autophagy. Sci Rep. 2017 Apr 4;7:45728. PMID: 28374807
  7. Fatemeh Haidari, Majid Mohammadshahi, Mehdi Zarei, Zahra Gorji. Effects of Sesame Butter (Ardeh) versus Sesame Oil on Metabolic and Oxidative Stress Markers in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats. Iran J Med Sci. 2016 Mar; 41(2): 102–109. PMID: 26989280
  8. Yadav NV et al. Sesame Oil and Rice Bran Oil Ameliorates Adjuvant-Induced Arthritis in Rats: Distinguishing the Role of Minor Components and Fatty Acids. Lipids. 2016 Dec;51(12):1385-1395. Epub 2016 Oct 17. PMID: 27747452
  9. Adil Adatia, Ann Elaine Clarke, Yarden Yanishevsky, Moshe Ben-Shoshan. Sesame allergy: current perspectives. J Asthma Allergy. 2017; 10: 141–151. PMID: 28490893
  10. Marzieh Beigom Bigdeli Shamloo. The Effects of Topical Sesame (Sesamum indicum) Oil on Pain Severity and Amount of Received Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in Patients With Upper or Lower Extremities Trauma. Anesth Pain Med. 2015 Jun; 5(3): e25085. PMID: 26161326
  11. Radava R. Korać, Kapil M. Khambholja. Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jul-Dec; 5(10): 164–173. PMID: 22279374
  12. Farhan Aslam et al. Evaluation of White Sesame Seed Oil on Glucose Control and Biomarkers of Hepatic, Cardiac, and Renal Functions in Male Sprague-Dawley Rats with Chemically Induced Diabetes. J Med Food. 2017 May 1; 20(5): 448–457. PMID: 28332903
  13. Sankar D, Ali A, Sambandam G, Rao R. Sesame oil exhibits synergistic effect with anti-diabetic medication in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Clin Nutr. 2011 Jun;30(3):351-8. PMID: 21163558