Sesame seeds add a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible, crunch to many Asian dishes. They are also the main ingredients in tahini (sesame seed paste) and the wonderful Middle Eastern sweet call halvah. They are available throughout the year.
Sesame seeds may be the oldest condiment known to man dating back to as early as 1600 BC. They are highly valued for their oil which is exceptionally resistant to rancidity. ‘Open sesame,’ the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights, reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity. The scientific name for sesame seeds is Sesamun indicum.
Here Are The 12 Health Benefits of Sesame Seeds
- Promote Healthy, Beautiful Skin – Sesame seeds are full of zinc, an essential mineral for producing collagen and giving skin more elasticity. Zinc also helps damaged tissues in the body to repair. Sesame oil is also known to sooth burns and prevents skin related disorders.
- Great for High-Protein Vegetarian Diet – Sesame seeds offer 4.7 grams of protein per ounce, giving them a perfect place in a high-protein vegetarian diet.
- Sesame Seed Oil for Oral Health – One of the most prominent benefits of sesame seeds and sesame oil revolves around removing dental plaque and boosting oral health. By engaging in an activity known as oil pulling, which involves swishing oil around in your mouth, you can boost oral health and even whiten your teeth. One study showcases the oil pulling benefits on the oral level, where oil pulling with sesame oil was shown to reduce the amount of streptococcus mutants in both teeth plaque and mouth saliva, and boost overall health. (Click the next link to find out what oil pulling is and learn of oil pulling benefits).
- Helps Prevent Diabetes – Thanks to magnesium and other nutrients, sesame seeds, and especially sesame oil, has been shown to combat diabetes. One study, published in 2011 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that sesame oil “improved the effectiveness of the oral antidiabetic drug glibenclamide in type 2 diabetic patients”. Another study concluded that “substitution of sesame oil as the sole edible oil has an additive effect in further lowering BP and plasma glucose in hypertensive diabetics”.
- Reduces Blood Pressure – As the above study concludes, sesame oil has been shown to lower blood pressure in hypertensive diabetics. Additionally, magnesium has been shown to help lower blood pressure – and sesame seeds are loaded with magnesium.
- Promotes Heart Health – Further adding to the health benefits of sesame seeds, sesame seed oil can boost heart health by preventing atherosclerotic lesions. An antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound known as sesamol, which also harnesses anti-atherogenic properties, is thought to be one reason for the beneficial effects. According to GreenMedInfo, sesamol has been shown to “possess over two dozen beneficial pharmacologically active properties, many of which may contribute to improving cardiovascular health”.
- Protects Against DNA Damage from Radiation – Sesamol, a compound found in sesame seeds and sesame oil, has been shown in some studies to protect against DNA damaged caused by radiation. Further, sesamol has been shown to extend life in mice treated with radiation, partly by preventing damage to the intestines and the spleen.
- Prevents Cancer – Not only do sesame seeds contain an anti-cancer compound called phytate, but the magnesium in sesame seeds also harnesses anti-cancer properties. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the risk of colorectal tumors decreased by 13% and the risk of colorectal cancer decreased by 12% for every 100 mg of magnesium taken in.
- Boosts Bone Health – In addition to promoting healthy skin, zinc has also been shown to boost bone mineral density and bone health as a whole. One study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found a correlation between zinc deficiency and osteoporosis in the hip and spine area. What’s more, sesame seeds are a great source of calcium – a known trace mineral that is essential for bone health and preventing related conditions.
- Boosting Digestive Health, Relieving Constipation – Sesame seeds are rich in fiber, which is known to pave way for a healthy digestive system and a healthy colon.
- Provides Relief from Rheumatoid Arthritis – A mineral that is important for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant enzyme systems, copper is known for reducing pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Additionally, this mineral helps provide strength to blood vessels, bones, and joints.
- Promotes Respiratory Health, Prevents Asthma – Thanks to the magnesium, sesame seeds are able to prevent asthma by and other respiratory disorders by preventing airway spasms.
Sesame seed allergy is a kind of hypersensitivity reaction in some sensitive individuals. Generally, the reactions include hives, dermatitis and itching. Sometimes the disease manifestation may be severe and may lead to serious physical symptoms like vomiting, pain abdomen, swelling of lips and throat leading to breathing difficulty, chest congestion, and death. It is, therefore, sesame products may be avoided as food in these individuals.