Sesame seeds are one of the tiny seeds that grow in the pods of the ‘Sesamum Indicum’ plant. They have been cultivated for thousands of years and are considered the oldest oil-rich seeds, also titled as “Queen of oil seeds”. They can be used directly or in the form of powder, paste, and oil.
In India, sesame seeds are also called ‘Til seeds’ and are mostly consumed in the winters due to its warming nature. A number of dishes like chikki, ladoo, and gajak are prepared out of these tiny seeds. They are also used as edible vegetable oil and have the highest content of oil compared to other variety of nuts and seeds. In many other cuisines, they are also used as flavor enhancers.
The common variety of sesame seeds found in India are available in white, brown, and black colours. These seeds are rich in several nutrients offering tremendous health benefits to us when consumed in the right proportion. They have also been used in traditional medicines due to their curative, preventive, and nutritive properties. The presence of hull part in black sesame seeds contain oxalic acid which gives them a bitter flavor and strong aroma. They are considered to be the most nutritional variety of sesame seeds. White or brown sesame seeds contain a slightly nutty, sweet taste and aroma. The toasting process enhances the flavor and aroma of the seeds.
The ideal recommended amount of sesame seeds or oil is 25-30 grams per day for normal adults.
Benefits of sesame seeds on health -
Bones health - Sesame seeds are the dairy-free calcium-rich source which improves bone density. They also contain an impressive amount of magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and protein which can be highly beneficial for people suffering from bone-related issues.
The compound present in sesame seeds called ‘sesamin’ has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which protect cartilage and reduce joint and knee pain. It helps to prevent chronic bone disorders such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Black sesame seeds contain a high amount of calcium than white or brown ones.
Heart health - Sesame seeds and oil are highly beneficial for heart health. They contain mono and poly-unsaturated fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids) which help to reduce the ‘bad’ or LDL cholesterol levels and enhance ‘good’ or HDL cholesterol levels. Sesame seeds also contain compounds such as sesamol, sesamin, and phytosterols that block triglycerides, cholesterol production, improve heart health and prevent life-threatening conditions such as stroke, heart attack, and atherosclerosis.
Hypertension- The natural oil in the sesame seeds prevents the development of several cardiac diseases including hypertension. They are filled with magnesium and potassium, the key nutrients that the body relies on heavily for maintaining blood pressure. The lignans and antioxidants present in sesame help to prevent plaque that builds up in the arteries and help to lower blood pressure levels.
Diabetes- These seeds may seem tiny but they are the powerhouse of nutrients and are well-known to reduce blood sugar levels and manage diabetes. They have a low glycemic index and do not spike the blood sugar level after consumption. They also improve plasma glucose in hypersensitive diabetics.
Thyroid- The favorable amount of selenium in sesame seeds plays a vital role in regulating metabolism and thyroid function. They help to protect the body from damage caused by oxidative stress. The other nutrients present in sesame seeds such as iron, tyrosine, vitamin B complex, copper, and zinc support the production of thyroid hormone.
Immune system- Sesame are full of essential nutrients crucial for the immune system such as copper, selenium, iron, niacin, thiamine, folic acid, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin E, A, and zinc that the body needs to boost the disease fighting white blood cells.
Digestive health- Sesame seeds are rich in dietary fiber and phytosterol that facilitate proper bowel movements. The regular consumption of sesame seeds or sesame oil can help prevent and cure certain types of cancer too. They also improve inflammatory conditions such as Crohn's disease, IBS, IBD, ulcerative colitis, constipation, and other gastrointestinal diseases.
Brain health - Sesame contains amino acid tyrosine which is required to produce dopamine and directly connect to serotonin activities. These neurotransmitters are responsible for alertness and sharp memory. The imbalance of these amino acids can lead to stress and depression. Magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B6 help in improving memory functions and brain-related problems.
Dental health- Sesame oil is one of the best oils for dental hygiene. It helps to remove dental plaque, improve oral health, and whiten the teeth. Poor oral care habits, chewing tobacco, smoking, poor diet, and fungal infection cause gum bleeding and other dental problems. Oil pulling with sesame oil has been found to reduce gum bleeding and reduce the amount of streptococcus mutans in both teeth plaque and saliva.
Skin and hair health - In research, it is shown that the nutrients present in sesame seeds provide anti-aging properties that can postpone or reverse age-related side effects. Sesame seeds are extremely beneficial for skin as well as hair. They contain zinc that produces collagen and helps repair body tissues. It also contains vitamin E, antioxidant, and omega fatty acids which trigger hair growth, nourishes the scalps and roots of the hair.