Sesame seeds, popularly known as ‘Til’ in India, are derived from the sesame plant. This plant is a herb with flowers resembling foxglove, which germinates pods with these edible sesame seeds. When these seeds mature, the pods burst open.
Various methods and techniques are used to press sesame seeds to extract sesame oil. Sesame seeds are used in a variety of ways in dishes and desserts. Apart from being used as a condiment, in Asian countries, these seeds are toasted to make sesame paste. This is used as a peanut butter substitute.
Sesame seeds have been used for flavoring and its oil for various purposes for more than 5,000 years. People have been enjoying sesame seeds as toppings in hamburgers and various Asian dishes. These seeds are also used in crackers and sweets in southern Asia, and several Mid-Eastern, Mediterranean, and Caribbean foods.
In this article, we will cover sesame seeds’ benefits and side effects. We would also discuss various ways to consume them, ideal amounts, and precautions.
Table of Contents
- Types of Sesame Seeds
- Sesame Seeds’ Health Benefits
- Sesame Seeds’ Benefits for Males
- How to Eat Sesame Seeds
- Sesame Seeds’ Side Effects
Types of Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are of two types – White and Black. Black sesame seeds have their hulls intact. On the other hand, white sesame seeds have these tan / brown hulls removed.
This results in their tastes being different. White sesame seeds have a delicious nutty, sweet flavor, making them an ideal choice for all foods you can put these seeds in.
Black sesame seeds have a stronger smell and deeper flavor and are somewhat bitter. Thus these seeds are used with other hard-duty ingredients, so the food doesn’t taste or smell entirely of sesame. But more often than not, the choice between the two types is mainly for the sake of the food’s appearance rather than taste.
Sesame Seeds’ Health Benefits
Sesame seeds are abundant in minerals. These seeds are an excellent source of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and copper.
They also contain two varieties of healthy lignan fiber, which none of the plants have. Three tablespoons of sesame seeds give you 3.5 grams of fiber. This fiber not only helps digestion but also lowers unhealthy cholesterol.
Sesame seeds have lots of fat too. However, the good news is that they contain majorly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These fats are not considered as bad fats. What’s more, three tablespoons of sesame seeds have 5 grams of protein too.
Another benefit is the low glycemic index of sesame seeds. This means that they digest slowly, which doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels.
Black Sesame Seeds’ Benefits
Though both types of sesame seeds have health benefits, widely, the black form is considered somewhat more beneficial. The reason is that the hull is not removed, which renders more nutrition in comparison to white sesame seeds.
Below, we discuss the various benefits of sesame seeds, in general.
1. Healthy Skin & Hair
Black sesame seeds are a powerhouse of protein, iron, zinc, fatty acids, and antioxidants. Research has shown that sesame seed oil can ward off around 30 percent of the Sun’s hazardous ultraviolet rays from entering the skin. This prevents skin from aging prematurely.
The nutrient-rich content of sesame seeds gives rise to healthy hair and skin. That’s why they are one of the ingredients in many hair and skin products.
Below, we outline two ways to use sesame seeds (besides oral consumption) for healthy skin and hair.
Also See: How to Use Flaxseeds For Glowing Skin
2. Sesame Seed Paste
In its paste form, sesame seeds make for an excellent face pack.
Grind 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds and mix with an equal amount of honey. Apply this paste to your face and neck. Wash off with lukewarm water upon drying.
3. Sesame Oil for Hair
Mix 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and aloe vera gel each. Heat this mixture for a couple of minutes. Upon cooling, apply deeply to your scalp and hair and massage for a while. You may wash off with a mild shampoo and water after an hour.
4. Loaded with Antioxidants
Oxidative stress leads to cell damage and a host of life-threatening diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and cancer.
Antioxidants play a role in preventing fast aging. This is because they lower the speed of cell damage and help repair damaged cells in the body. Black sesame seeds are abundant in antioxidants, which help against this oxidative stress. The sesame seed oil also provides relief to relieve bone and joint pains because of antioxidants’ presence.
Also See: Diabetes Prevention Tips and Strategies
5. Healthy Blood Pressure
A small study group showed that consuming around 3 grams of black sesame seeds brought down high blood pressure levels in a month. The record of the other group which was studies along was less dramatic. There was little change in the blood pressure levels of those who did not consume sesame seeds as part of their daily diet. Besides this study, many such clinical trials have shown a positive effect on humans’ blood pressure levels.
6. Safeguards Against Cancer
Sesamin and sesamol are two compounds black sesame seeds contain. These wards of oxidative stress regulate the cell life cycle. This helps prevent any type of cancerous cell growth.
Sesamin has a major role in destroying cancer cells and obliterating them from the body. However, more detailed medical research is required to show exactly how these two compounds found in black sesame seeds affect cancer cells.
7. Improves Digestion
Black sesame seeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids. These improve digestion by lubricating intestinal walls and help prevent constipation. Fiber is also found in a good amount of these seeds, which promotes healthy bowel movement.
So eating black sesame seeds improves your digestion and keeps your stomach healthy.
8. Good for Lactating Mothers
Black sesame seeds improve lactation in women. So their newborns can enjoy a healthy breast milk flow. As already mentioned earlier, sesame seeds are a good source of several minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus, besides vitamin B and healthy fats. All these goodies transcend to the mother’s milk, and the baby naturally derives full benefit.
9. Good for Curing Wound Infections
Sesame seeds and their oil have been used for centuries in healing wounds and related infections. This is because of their antibacterial and antifungal property against usual skin microbes. These seeds also possess antiviral as well as anti-inflammatory properties.
Besides, sesame seeds also aid in collagen formation and cell generation, which help heal wounds.
10. Prevents Dental Infections
If you never wish to see your dentist again, adopt the practice of ‘oil pulling’ using sesame oil. This practice, which is thousands of years old, has several health benefits. Major amongst these is the prevention of dental infections.
Oil pulling entails swishing a tablespoon of oil for about 10-15 minutes daily inside your mouth and then spitting it out. It kills off harmful bacteria and prevents plaque. Afterward, thoroughly clean your tongue and teeth with a toothbrush. Ideally, do this last thing at night, before hitting the bed.
Not only would you ward off oral infections, but your breath would feel as fresh as if you just brushed your teeth upon waking in the morning!
Sesame Seeds’ Benefits for Males
Apart from all the above-discussed benefits of sesame seeds, there’s an additional benefit for males. Sesame seeds are believed to increase semen production and might be a boost for male infertility treatment.
Then again, countless men suffer from a weak sexual drive, erectile problems, and premature discharge.
All such issues affect sexual performance and thus lead to problems in conceiving with your partner.
Sesame seeds help with such issues and improve sperm quality as these contain aphrodisiac property.
How to Eat Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds can be toasted to release their nutty, delicious flavor. This can be done in two ways. You can dry toast them in a pan on the stove or can bake them inside an oven.
The pan method is quicker: simply dry-stir them on the stovetop till they get golden and fragrant. It usually takes around five minutes.
In the second method, spread the seeds on the cooking sheet inside the oven and cook them at 350F for around ten-to-fifteen minutes. Stir them in-between till they get golden brown and fragrant.
As a flavoring, you can sprinkle toasted sesame seeds atop salads, stir-fries, and soups. The non-toasted seeds can be used to make a paste, which can be added to several baked foods. This is done by mixing them with olive oil and blending the mixture. Incidentally, you can use toasted seeds as well to make this paste.
You can also make a sort of milkshake: soak a cup of sesame seeds overnight in milk. Blend this in a grinder in the morning and have it with your breakfast after sifting the mixture.
You can also consume sesame seeds without mixing them with any food. For instance, a tablespoon of raw or toasted sesame seeds is a daily practice.
People also like using sesame seed oil over baked or boiled vegetables or pour it atop a salad as a dressing. Besides, many people use this oil for cooking food as well.
For those who are hard-pressed for time, sesame seeds now also come in capsule or powder form. This enables quick consumption by the health-conscious folks, who might otherwise miss out on sesame seeds’ benefits.
Daily Dose of Sesame Seeds
As mentioned earlier, sesame seeds can be consumed in various ways. Below we tell how much to consume daily, in their various forms.
- Seeds – 1-2 tablespoons once a day.
- Capsule – 1-2 capsules twice a day.
- Oil – 2-3 teaspoons once or twice a day.
- Powder – Half teaspoon once or twice daily.
Sesame Seeds’ Side Effects
Though sesame seeds’ nutrition value is substantial, as with anything else, consuming too much of these is not good for health. There are numerous side effects of these seeds being consumed in excess.
1. Getting Overweight
These little sesame seeds, along with being nutritious, are also packed with saturated calories. To give you an idea, consider that just a handful (around 100 grams) of these seeds have nearly 600 calories. Along with it, it also has 8 grams of saturated fats. This alone makes it about 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance.
Those watching their weight and wondering how much black sesame seeds to eat per day, better not go overboard in their enthusiasm!
2. Colon Cancer
Consistently eating excessive amounts of sesame seeds (over 15 grams a day) can affect your large intestines. This organ can get inflated, resulting in life-threatening diseases such as colon cancer.
Another severe condition of the large intestines by excess consumption of sesame seeds is called diverticulitis. This forms a very painful ‘sack’ on the large intestines’ inner walls, resulting in stomach pain, cramps, and constipation. This might require surgery.
This is a medical condition of severe allergies resulting from excessive sesame seeds’ consumption. Anaphylaxis affects the entire body by this rapid allergy. It results in hypotension, chest constriction, and wheezing, etc. If not intervened medically, it could block the throat and airway, which could even be fatal.
5. Hair Fall
Sure, black sesame seeds are praised for promoting good hair health. However, we are talking about excessive consumption here. Herein, you could get hormonal imbalances, resulting in an oily scalp, while drying hair follicles. Hair loss would increase in such cases and might even lead to complete baldness.
Other Precautions with Sesame Seeds
Apart from consuming sesame seeds judiciously, in certain circumstances also, it is better to consult your physician before starting on a daily dose of sesame seeds.
- (A) Post-surgery and even shortly prior, sesame seeds might affect blood sugar level. So it is best to avoid eating them at least a couple of weeks before you are due for any sort of surgery.
- (B) If you have diabetes, know that sesame seed oil may lower blood sugar. Therefore, it is better to regularly keep track of your blood sugar levels while also taking anti-diabetic medicines.
- (C) Also, sesame seed oil could lower blood pressure. If you are on blood pressure medication, it is again better to regularly check on your blood pressure.
- (D) Generally, it is safe to consume sesame seeds in food form. Nonetheless, if you are pregnant, it is best to consult your gynecologist before consuming sesame seeds in any form.
Sesame seeds are very nutritious and have numerous health benefits. They have several crucial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Besides, they also have a good amount of fiber and protein.
Sesame seeds are better consumed in a roasted form or as sesame oil, paste, capsules, and powders.
Including them in your daily diet can help maintain healthy skin, hair, and bones. Sesame seeds could also safeguard against cancer; help in maintaining healthy blood pressure, and improve digestion. Also, sesame oil is good for oral hygiene and preventing dental decay.
However, regular excessive consumption of sesame seeds can have several side effects, which are very dangerous. So, it is advisable to consume sesame seeds judiciously. Besides, people with certain medical conditions, and lactating mothers, should consult their physician before incorporating sesame seeds in their diet.