In “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” the legendary phrase “open sesame” opens the mouth of a cave where a treasure lies hidden. In a delightful bit of symmetry, opening sesame pods also delivers a treasure of benefits for human health and well-being.
The presence of lignans (a type of polyphenol), tocopherols (which have vitamin E activity), and phytosterols (which are similar to cholesterol but can lower LDL cholesterol) can protect against reactive oxygen species and the oil from easily becoming rancid. In fact, sesame has earned the title “Queen of Oilseeds” because it is highly resistant to oxidation and rancidity.
Sesame seed, in particular, boasts excellent nutritional value, including high protein, vitamin B1, and dietary fiber content. Southern Indian cuisine relies on sesame oil for cooking, just like Chinese cuisine, where it was the only cooking oil until fairly recently.
The seed can be consumed raw or roasted. Here are five reasons to consume sesame seeds and make them a part of your regular diet.
1. Lowers High Blood Pressure
Sesame seeds are chock full of magnesium, which may assist in lowering blood pressure. A 2017 study showed that sesame consumption can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure, potentially owing to its high polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, phytosterol, and lignan content. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, and renal failure.
In a separate study, subjects with high blood pressure ate 2.5 grams (g) of powdered black sesame seeds in capsules every day. At the end of four weeks, they had significantly decreased systolic blood pressure, suggesting potential anti-hypertensive effects via improving antioxidant status and decreasing oxidant stress.
2. Reduces Inflammation
A separate study also found that orally supplementing with sesamol and sesamin, compounds in sesame seeds and their oil, controlled inflammatory and oxidative stress markers in animal models. The team advocated the use of the two components as an adjunct therapy where both inflammatory conditions and oxidative stress are a concern.
3. Soothes Knee Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common culprit behind joint pain, frequently affecting the knees. Arthritis may be various factors coming together, such as inflammation and oxidative damage to the cartilage tasked with cushioning the joints.
In a study out of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran, researchers evaluated the effects of a sesame seed supplement on clinical signs in knee osteoarthritis patients. They divided 50 subjects with knee osteoarthritis into two groups, with one group receiving 40g of sesame seed daily for two months along with standard drug treatment and the other getting 40g of placebo powder along with standard medical therapy.
At the end of the trial, the sesame seed group showed significant decreases in markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. The researchers suggested sesame may benefit knee osteoarthritis patients and offer complementary treatment in this cohort. In separate research, sesamin was found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action, potentially protecting your cartilage.
4. Treats Type 2 Diabetes and Its Effects
Growing evidence shows that sesame seeds may help protect against diabetes. Here are some relevant studies:
- Sesame seed paste may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in Type 2 diabetics
- White sesame seed oil mitigates blood glucose levels, slashes oxidative stress, and enhances biomarkers of blood and renal function in Type 2 diabetes patients
- It may work synergistically with antidiabetes medication glibenclamide in helping Type 2 diabetes patients and improving hyperglycemia
- Sesamol has favorable effects against diabetes-associated cognitive decline in animal models, with chronic treatment significantly reducing acetylcholinesterase, oxidative stress, and inflammation
- Sesamol helps suppress neuropathic pain linked to diabetes, mainly through mechanisms such as modulating oxidative stress and inflammatory cytokine release in diabetic animal subjects
5. Promotes Hormone Balance During Menopause
Sesame seeds are a rich source of phytoestrogens or plant compounds similar to estrogen, potentially benefiting women in menopause, whose estrogen levels drop. This makes them likely helpful for women at this life stage. Phytoestrogens, for instance, may help control hot flashes and other signs of low estrogen.
These compounds may also assist in pushing down the risk of cancer during menopause, such as breast cancer. You can learn more about the impressive health benefits of sesame seeds on the GreenMedInfo.com database online.