What are sesame seeds?
Sesame (Sesamum indicum), one of the oldest cultivated plants around the globe, is an important oilseed crop. Sesame seeds are full of calcium and magnesium.
History has even recorded the ancient uses of this nutritious oilseed crop. In ancient Babylon, women were said to consume halva, a dessert made with a mixture of honey and sesame seeds, to preserve their youth and beauty. Meanwhile, Romans consumed halva to maintain their energy and strength.
Like other seeds, sesame has an impressive nutrient profile. An ounce (28 grams) of sesame seeds has:
- 160 calories
- Fiber (3.3 g)
- Monounsaturated fat (5.3 g)
- Omega-6 fatty acids (6 g)
- Protein (5 g)
- Copper (57 percent of the Reference Daily Intake [RDI])
- Magnesium (25 percent of the RDI)
- Manganese (34 percent of the RDI)
Ten evidence-based health benefits of sesame seeds
Sesame seeds add more than a nutty crunch to various dishes. They can help prevent or slow the progress of the 10 health conditions listed below.
Antibiotic-induced kidney damage
Sesame seed oil helped prevent gentamicin-induced kidney damage in rats by lowering oxidative damage caused by the antibiotic.
Sesame seed oil can help prevent the formation of atherosclerotic lesions in mice fed an atherogenic diet. Sesamol, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory lignan found in sesame seeds, is partially responsible for the oilseed crop’s anti-atherogenic properties. The compound has more than two dozen beneficial pharmacologically active properties, most of which can help boost cardiovascular health. (Related: Full of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, the sesame seed offers amazing benefits for your cardiovascular health.)
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Sesame has sesamin, a fat-soluble lignin with phytoestrogenic properties. Sesamin has been studied for its ability to inhibit the growth of many cancer cells, such as:
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myelomas
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
It’s possible that sesame’s lignan content could even rival that of flaxseed.
In Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medical tradition, sesame seed oil is used for “oil pulling.” This method boosts oral health and involves “swishing sesame seed oil in the mouth for prolonged durations.”
Oil pulling can help prevent oral problems such as bleeding gums, dry throat, halitosis, and tooth decay. Additionally, oil pulling is said to strengthen the gums, jaw, and teeth.
Clinical research suggests that oil pulling has the same benefits as a chemical mouthwash (chlorhexidine) when it comes to improving plaque-induced gingivitis. Data also implies that sesame oil can help minimize Streptococcus mutans growth linked to oral plaque formation.
Sesamol, which has an antidepressant-like effect in behavioral despair in chronically stressed mice, helped modulate oxidative-nitrosative stress and inflammation.
Data from a 2011 study, which was published in the Clinical Journal of Nutrition, showed that sesame oil helped boost the effectiveness of glibenclamide, an oral antidiabetic drug, in patients with type 2 diabetes.
In a separate 2006 study, which was published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, it was determined that using sesame seed oil as the sole edible oil can help lower the blood pressure and glucose of individuals with diabetes and hypertension.
High blood pressure/hypertension
According to the results of a study published in the Yale Journal of Biological Medicine, sesame seed oil has a beneficial effect on patients with hypertension who used either beta-blockers or diuretics. Data from the study showed that substituting all dietary oils with sesame oil reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure to normal.
The oilseed crop also decreased lipid peroxidation (bodily rancidity) and antioxidant status. The researchers noted that the compounds responsible for sesame seed’s antihypertensive effects were peptides that function as angiotensin I-converting enzyme inhibitors.
Infant health/massage oil
The results of a study in the Indian Journal of Medical Research indicated that massaging infants with sesame oil helped improve their growth and post-massage sleep compared to control oils (e.g., mineral oil).
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
In an animal model of MS, or experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), sesame seed oil helped protect mice from developing the disease by decreasing IFN-gamma secretion, a crucial factor when initiating autoimmune inflammation and injury in the nervous system.
The oilseed crop has also been studied for its potential beneficial role in Huntington’s disease, another neurodegenerative condition.
Radiation-induced DNA damage
Mice studies have also determined that sesamol can help prevent gamma radiation-induced DNA damage. Researchers believe that this is due to the compound’s antioxidant properties. Sesamol can help reduce mortality in radiation-treated mice, specifically through the prevention of damage to their intestines and spleen. Compared to melatonin, another potent antioxidant, sesamol was at least 20 times more effective as a free radical scavenger.
Sesame oil is a powerful superfood that has potent healing properties. Consume more sesame today to enjoy the various health benefits that it offers.
You can read more articles about the health benefits of sesame seeds and other superfoods at Superfoods.news.