Sesame was first cultivated for oil over 3000 years ago. Charred remains of the seeds have been found in archeological sites dating back to 3500-3050 BC. While wild varieties are native to sub-Saharan, Asia, and India, cultivated sesame originated in India. Sesame is drought resistant which allows it to thrive in conditions where other plants fail. This oilseed is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and plant protein. The edible seeds grow in pods and have the highest oil content of any other seed.
Sesame seeds are packed with nutrition and are good sources of phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin B1 (thiamine), niacin (B3), and vitamin B6. The seeds are an amazing source of copper, with a whopping 163% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI). Copper supports immune function and assists in the production of red blood cells.
Not only are they extremely nutritious, but sesame seeds are also tasty with a deep nutty flavor. They are easy to incorporate into your diet. The oil can be used to cook with, while the seeds can be included in dishes or even added to salads to enhance their flavor.
Twelve Key Benefits of Sesame Seeds
Good Source of Fiber
Not only do they contain protein and fiber, but they contain antioxidant vitamins A & C as well as minerals such as iron and chromium. Three tablespoons of unhulled sesame seeds contain 3.5 grams of fiber which is 12% of RDI. Adequate dietary fiber intake is necessary for proper digestive health.
Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Sesame seeds contain ingredients that have been shown to help maintain regular hearts and arteries. They are high in selenium, which helps protect against cancers and heart diseases. Research shows eating small amounts of seeds each day can increase levels of HDL cholesterol – bad cholesterol – by up to 80 percent.
They also contain an antioxidant called carotenoids, which can protect against DNA damage caused by free radicals. In addition, eating seeds can reduce cholesterol levels in your blood by clearing plaque from within your arteries. This improves your chances of having a heart attack or stroke because plaque can clog your arteries, which then allows plaque to more easily form or break free from within
Sesame seeds are a great source of plant-based protein as they contain 5 grams of protein per 3 tablespoon serving. They are also better for your health than other types of seeds due to the fact that they contain higher levels of selenium. Selenium helps your body produce HDL cholesterol (the good kind), which protects against heart disease.
It also protects against DNA damage and macular degeneration (a painful condition that causes blindness and blurry vision). If you’re looking to improve your heart health, seeds are a great place to start.
Lower Blood Pressure
When eaten regularly, sesame seeds can lower your blood pressure by as much as eleven points within just two weeks. Higher blood pressure can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Lowering your blood pressure can also decrease your chance of having a stroke or heart attack. They also contain fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which are very good for your health, and triglycerides: as well as calcium and magnesium, which can help lower your blood pressure.
May Support Healthy Bones
Sesame seeds contain minerals like calcium, zinc, manganese, and magnesium that help support healthy bones. A three-tablespoon serving of unhulled seeds has 22% RDI of calcium. They also contain protein which is great for building bones and tissues. If you are watching your weight, adding seeds to your diet could help you start losing weight faster.
Yet with all of the beneficial nutrients, the nuts additionally contain oxalates and phytates, which are antinutrients that can block absorption of the minerals. To counteract this, roast, sprout, or soak the seeds before consumption.
Sesame seeds contain mucilage, which helps to prevent pain and swelling in joints. If you have had recent surgery or have had a series of surgeries, this may help prevent a recurrence of the problem. The mucilage in sesame seeds has anti-inflammatory properties and so helps to prevent further problems for you.
Also, the anti-inflammatory properties in the seeds can help reduce inflammation in joints, preventing symptoms from being caused by the pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis.
Source of B Vitamins
Three tablespoons of hulled or unhulled sesame seeds contain approximately 17% RDA of thiamine (B1), 11% RDI of niacin (B3), and 5% RDI of vitamin B6. These water-soluble vitamins are not produced by our bodies, so we must get them from our diets. It is vital to get enough of these nutrients are they support energy production, metabolic functions, and hormonal balance.
The mucilage in sesame can help protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals create chemicals that can damage cells and organs. If your immune system is weakened from allergies or other infections, free radicals may attack your organs and systems, causing diseases like cancer. Lignans found in the seeds function as antioxidants that lower oxidative stress.
Not only do sesame seeds improve digestion and prevent heart disease in many people with diabetes, but they can actually slow down the aging process in some people. Simply put, eating seeds can slow down the effects of aging on your body!
This tops the list of healthy antioxidant foods. Xanthophylls also help improve the immune system’s ability to fight off cancer. Sesame seeds also contain proteins that help in immune system functioning and antibacterial property that can help kill germs & prevent infections. These seeds are also high in fiber which can help with gout and other chronic conditions.
In addition, they contain antioxidants that protect and improve the immune system, in addition to the numerous health benefits listed above. Eating lots of these seeds every day can also help curb weight gain, plus they taste great!
Soothe Arthritic Knee Pain
Sesame seeds contain alkaline elements which help stretch & repair our elastic structures. They contain high levels of plant compounds known to have anti-inflammatory properties such as sesamin. These properties help to alleviate joint pain and gout by relaxing muscles and reducing inflammation within the joint itself. Eating sesame seeds can also prevent joint disorders such as osteoporosis.
Supplying 18% RDI of selenium sesame seeds is excellent support for your thyroid. The thyroid has the highest concentration of selenium than any of the other organs in your body. Additionally, the iron, zinc, copper, and vitamin B6 contained in the nut support the creation of vital thyroid hormones.
Hormone Balancing During Menopause
Sesame seeds contain certain chemicals which can help regulate periods and balance hormones, respectively. Eating a mixture of this seed with other foods can provide you with many nutrients and prevent or treat some health conditions, especially conditions associated with the uterus such as PMS or other phases of menopause, menopause-related osteoporosis, and post-menopausal depression.
A Beneficial Addition to Your Diet
There are numerous ways to add sesame seeds into your diet. As stated earlier, the seeds are best roasted and can be added directly to foods like stir-frys. The seeds can also be ground and turned into flour or meal to be used in baking. The seeds can be ground into a paste called tahini and used in place of peanut butter.
Sesame seeds have been used for treating various health conditions for thousands of years and may offer a host of health benefits when eaten regularly. These seeds contain nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and beta-carotene, which are vital for proper brain development and performance. Additionally, sesame seeds help lower cholesterol levels by acting as a natural class III cholesterol reducer.
Furthermore, they are antioxidant-rich, which helps protect your cells against free radical damage. These free radicals inside and outside of your body can further damage or destroy cells if not taken care of. The lycopene in sesame seeds aid in weight loss as lycopene aids in the release of fat from fat cells.
As you can see, beyond their addition to food to boost the flavor profile, there are many benefits to regularly consuming sesame seeds. Well rounded nutritionally and a good source of dietary fiber, the seeds may have positive dietary effects. Reducing inflammation, balancing hormones, protection from free radicals, and protecting your heart health are only a few of the benefits of the impactful nutrients found in sesame seeds. It is no wonder that the seeds have been used for thousands of years.
Please note the sesame seed is known to cause allergic reactions in some individuals, similar to other seed varieties. Sesame allergies are growing in prevalence so proceed with caution.