Sesame oil is extracted from the flat and oval sesame seeds. Sesame seeds contain 50-60% of high-quality oil. No wonder sesame seeds are popularly called “Queen of Oil seeds.” The oil is also known as gingelly, benne, til seed oil.

It is one of the highly consumed edible oils in the world. Sesame oil is popular for its pleasing nutty aroma, flavor, and numerous health benefits. The oil is an important ingredient in folk medicine, especially in Ayurveda. [1]

Sesame or Sesamum indicum L. belongs to Pedaliaceae plant family. The herbaceous plant is grown for its flavorsome seeds and oil. The history of sesame goes back to 3000 and 1500 years B.C. in China and Egypt. The seeds were primarily used for their medicinal qualities and as a food ingredient. [2]

Today some of the major sesame growing countries of the world are Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, China, Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia. These countries produce 80% of the world production or 3.2 million tons of sesame seeds annually.  [1] [2]

Recent scientific experiments have looked into the bioactive components and therapeutic efficacy of sesame oil. Researchers found sesame oil to be beneficial for the liver, heart and other vital body organs. The oil has potential uses and benefits for skin care, hair problems, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and even cancer.

This article reviews sesame oil health benefits, plus its nutritional and therapeutic value.

Sesame Oil- Nutritional Facts and Therapeutic Values

Sesame oil has a unique chemical composition comprising of essential minerals, vitamins and numerous pharmacologically active components.

Sesame seed is high in natural antioxidants (sesamol, sesamolin, and sesamin) and anti-inflammatory properties. Sesamin and sesamolin are unique antioxidants that belong to Lignans fiber groups of sesame seeds. [1]

The oil is 15% saturated fat, 42% oleic acid, and 43% omega-6 fatty or linoleic acid. Moreover, the oil is rich in proteins building amino acids, vitamin E, and B-complex vitamins– pantothenic acid, folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and niacin.

Sesame oil is loaded with protein, dietary fiber, and minerals such as copper, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, and manganese. [1]

Health Benefits and Uses of Sesame Oil

1. Sesame Oil Can Prevent Heart Diseases.

Sesame oil can help cardiovascular health in many ways. The oil is a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Besides, lignan in the oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties sesamol and sesamin. A 2017 research study published in the journal Cureus, confirms of the efficacy of sesame oil lignan in lowering bad cholesterol. [3]

In the study, sesame oil supplementation has lowered the bad cholesterol LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and maintained HDL (high-density lipoprotein). The researchers conclude that the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects of sesame oil constituents can prevent the risk of Atherosclerosis or formation of plaque in the arteries and other heart diseases.

In another comparative study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2013 the effects of olive oil and sesame oil were tested in the lipid profile of 44 high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia patients.

The participants in two groups consumed 60 g. Or 4 tablespoons of either refined olive oil or sesame oil. After a month the group that consumed sesame oil showed greater improvement in lipid profile and weight management. [4]

2. Sesame Oil Can Relieve Pain.

Using sesame oil can be a low-cost and effective method of reducing pain.

A 2015 Iranian study in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine journal investigated the analgesic or pain-relieving effects of sesame oil for extremity trauma pain. [5]

Extremity injuries are the most common conditions in U.S. emergency medical care. Extremity trauma occurs due to some serious injury such as broken bones, muscle, cartilage, and ligament damage or tendon rupture.

The study was conducted among 150 patients with both upper or lower extremities trauma. Topical application of sesame oil had significant pain relieving effects among the patients. The researchers conclude that sesame oil may be an effective, low-cost remedy for reducing the severity and frequency of injury pain. The complementary treatment option has no side effects. [5]

3. Sesame Oil May Prevent Colon Cancer.

Sesame oil contains large quantities of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) and linoleic acid.

Besides the antioxidants, sesamol and sesamin in sesame oil have potent apoptosis effects for colon, breast, prostate, lung, pancreatic, and leukemia cancer.

In a 1991 clinical study published in Anticancer Research journal the Linoleic acid in sesame oil is highly effective in inhibiting the colon cancer cell growth. [6]

Researchers conclude that vegetable oils such as coconut, olive, soybean, safflower, corn and sesame oil have chemotherapeutic potential in preventing cancer.

4. Sesame Oil is Good for Diabetic Patients.

Diabetes is a life-threatening metabolic disease. The insulin hormone is responsible for storing or metabolizing the sugar from your blood. If you have diabetes, your body may not produce enough insulin or can not use them properly. If not managed, high blood sugar can damage your kidney, eye, and other vital organs of the body in the long term.

A 2006 pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, states the efficacy of sesame oil for hypertensive diabetes patients. The 45 days investigation was conducted among 40 patients between 45-65 age group. [7]

The study concludes that sesame oil as the only edible oil in the diet of diabetic patients can significantly reduce blood pressure and plasma glucose.

5. Sesame Oil May Relieve Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect your spinal cord, brain, and nerves in the eyes.

MS happens when the immune system damages the myelin or fatty outer shell of your nerve fibers. As a result, your nerves are damaged and form scar tissues. The brain can’t send a signal to the nerves properly. Multiple sclerosis can affect your motion, balance, and vision.

According to Phytotherapy Research journal sesame oil has the potential to treat multiple sclerosis symptoms. In the study, dietary consumption of sesame oil could significantly reduce the symptoms of autoimmune encephalomyelitis (an animal model for MS in rats). [8]

The researchers concluded that sesame oil could be a complementary treatment for MS human patients for its immunomodulating effects.

6. Sesame Oil is Good for Skin Health.

Sesame oil can be beneficial for your skin in some ways. The oil is extensively used in Ayurvedic medicinal practice due to its anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities for healthy skin.

Sesame oil is good for moisturizing dry skin, elbow, knees and cracked heels. It can regenerate new skin tissues and has powerful anti-aging activities against wrinkles and fine lines. [9]

Application of sesame oil as topical massage and in the bath can effectively treat skin aging, burns, and various skin disorders.

Sesame oil can be a natural skin detoxifier as well. The bioactive molecules in sesame oil can easily attract oil-soluble toxins. Apply a good layer of sesame oil on your skin and leave it for 15 minutes. Later wash off the face using warm water.

Sesame oil is a natural sunscreen too. According to a 2018 research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, sesame oil has skin repair and barrier activity against tissue damage. Sesame oil has a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and may be used as a protective layer on the skin against the harmful solar UV ray. [9]

7. Sesame Oil for Healthy Hair and Scalp.

The natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in sesame oil are beneficial for your hair. Massaging the oil on your scalp and hair is an effective remedy for dry, flakey hair and scalp.

The oil can treat dandruff, lice, and premature graying of the hair. Many anecdotal data confirm the positive effects of sesame oil for boosting scalp health and for a shiny, strong lock.

8. Sesame Oil for Good Oral Health.

In Ayurveda, sesame oil pulling is a traditional remedy for various dental diseases and maintaining good oral health. A regular 20 minutes swishing of a tablespoon of sesame oil in an empty stomach can remove the oral toxins and plaque. [2]

How to Use Sesame Oil

Edible Cooking Oil: You can use sesame oil for cooking your dishes. It is a popular cooking oil in various Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines. You can consume raw sesame oil in a limited amount by adding it to your salad and soup.

Ayurvedic Massage Oil: sesame oil may be used as a massage oil for relieving pain, skin and hair health, etc.

Side Effects and Precautions of Using Sesame Oil

According to the International Journal of Toxicology, cosmetic use of sesame oil is considered safe. [10]

However, there are reports of sesame allergic reaction ranging from mild itching to anaphylaxis. [11]

People allergic to peanuts and walnuts are more prone to sesame allergy. You are advised to consume sesame seeds or oil in a small amount to check an allergic reaction. Don’t proceed with the consumption or application of the oil in case sesame doesn’t suit you.

Sesame seeds and oil may have hormone inducing effects among pregnant and nursing mother. In worst cases, sesame oil may trigger uterine contractions, miscarriage, and preterm labor. In such a case follow extreme caution and consult a doctor before using the oil.

Don’t consume sesame oil, if you are prescribed with blood-thinning medications. Doing so may further lower your blood pressure.

Bottom Line

Sesame oil and seeds add vitamins, minerals, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and natural antioxidants in the human diet.  These natural compounds have beneficial effects against high blood pressure, cholesterol, and increasing vitamin E supply for healthy skin and hair. Numerous medical studies also suggest the potential effects of sesame oil for preventing cancer, managing diabetes, multiple sclerosis, inflammations, and pain.

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