The sesame plant’s nutritional qualities have inspired some to dub its oil the “queen of oilseeds.”
Belonging to the Pedaliaceae family, a group of plants harvested for their edible seeds, its scientific name is Sesamum indicum.
Sesame oil is made from raw, pressed seeds and has culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic uses.
This article lists ten science-backed benefits of sesame oil.
1. Sesame oil is high in antioxidants
Sesame oil contains sesamol and sesaminol, two antioxidants that may have powerful effects on your health.
Antioxidants are substances that help reduce cell damage caused by free radicals. An accumulation of free radicals in your cells may lead to inflammation and disease.
A one-month study in rats found that taking sesame oil supplements protected against heart cell damage.
In that same study, antioxidant activity increased in rats receiving either 2 or 5 ml of sesame oil per pound (5 or 10 ml per kg) of body weight daily.
Sesame oil may have similar effects when used topically. One study in rats showed it might reduce cell damage by inhibiting compounds like xanthine oxidase and nitric oxide, which produce free radicals.
Summary: Sesame oil is rich in antioxidants that may significantly benefit your health.
2. Sesame oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties
Chronic inflammation can be harmful and lead to illness, so limiting it as much as possible is important.
Traditional Taiwanese medicine has long employed sesame oil for its anti-inflammatory properties, treating joint inflammation, toothaches, and scrapes.
More recently, animal and test-tube studies have shown that sesame oil can reduce inflammation, which may be one of its main health benefits.
For example, test-tube studies have found that sesame oil reduced inflammatory markers, such as nitric oxide production.
However, more studies on humans are needed.
Summary: Animal and test-tube studies show that sesame oil may reduce inflammation. However, more studies on humans are needed.
3. Sesame oil is good for your heart
Well-established research shows that a diet rich in unsaturated fats benefits heart health.
Sesame oil comprises 82% unsaturated fatty acids.
In particular, it’s rich in omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat essential to your diet and important in heart disease prevention.
Research in rats suggests that sesame oil may help prevent heart disease and even slow plaque development in your arteries.
It may lower your cholesterol levels when used instead of oils high in saturated fats.
A 1-month study of 48 adults found that those who consumed four tablespoons (59 ml) of sesame oil daily had greater reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides than those who consumed olive oil.
Summary: Sesame oil is a healthy oil rich in monounsaturated fats, which may reduce heart disease risk factors.
4. Sesame oil may help control blood sugar
Sesame oil may support healthy blood sugar regulation, especially for people with diabetes.
One study showed that putting rats with diabetes on a 6% sesame oil diet for 42 days resulted in significant reductions in blood sugar, compared with rats not fed the oil.
Sesame oil may even play a role in long-term blood sugar regulation.
A study in 46 adults with type 2 diabetes found that taking sesame oil for 90 days significantly reduced fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) compared with a placebo group. HbA1c levels are an indicator of long-term blood sugar control.
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Summary: Consuming sesame oil may help regulate blood sugar levels, especially for those with diabetes.
5. Sesame oil may help treat arthritis
Osteoarthritis affects nearly 15% of the population and is a common cause of joint pain.
Several rodent studies have linked sesame oil to improvements in arthritis.
In one 28-day study, researchers gave the oil to rats at daily doses of 0.5 ml per pound (1 ml per kg) of body weight. The rats experienced reduced oxidative stress markers and arthritic symptoms, such as joint pain.
Although animal studies have demonstrated that sesame oil may offer arthritis relief, research in humans is needed.
Summary: Sesame oil may improve symptoms of arthritis, but research is limited to animal studies at this time.
6. Sesame oil may help heal wounds and burns
While sesame oil can be consumed for its health benefits, it may also be used topically for wounds and burns.
Ozone is a natural gas that can be used medically. Its clinical use dates back to 1914 when it was used to treat infections during World War I. Oils with ozone added to them — known as ozonated oils — are used topically to treat various skin conditions.
In one rat study, topical treatment with ozonated sesame oil was linked to higher collagen levels in wound tissue. Collagen is a structural protein necessary for wound healing.
Other studies have demonstrated that topical treatment with sesame oil reduced burn and wound healing time in mice, though human research is lacking.
The oil’s ability to speed the healing of wounds and burns can likely be attributed to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Summary: Sesame oil is a natural product that may help heal wounds and burns. However, research is limited to rodent studies, and more human research is needed.
7. Sesame oil may protect against UV rays
Some research shows that sesame oil may protect against damage from UV rays, which can harm your skin. This effect is likely largely due to its high antioxidant content.
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It can resist 30% of UV rays, while many other oils, such as coconut, peanut, and olive oils, can resist only 20%.
Several sources claim that sesame oil can be a good natural sunscreen and has a natural SPF. However, there is limited research on its effectiveness in protecting from the sun’s strong rays, so it’s best to use sunscreen.
Summary: While sesame oil may have some ability to repel UV rays, there is limited evidence to support its effectiveness. It’s still best to use sunscreen.
8–10. Other potential benefits of sesame oil
Although research is limited, some evidence suggests that sesame oil may offer the following benefits:
- May improve sleep quality. One study showed that dripping sesame oil on the foreheads of 20 participants during seven 30-minute sessions over two weeks improved sleep quality and quality of life, compared with a placebo treatment.
- Topical application may relieve pain. Some studies have shown that a massage with sesame oil may help reduce arm and leg pain.
- May improve hair health. Compounds in this oil may increase hair shine and strength. An eight-week study found that taking supplements consisting of sesamin and vitamin E daily enhanced hair strength and shine.
Summary: Though extensive research is needed, sesame oil may improve sleep, enhance hair health, and relieve pain when used topically.
How to add sesame oil to your diet
Sesame oil adds a delicious and nutty flavor to various dishes. It’s a popular ingredient in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
This oil has several varieties, each offering a slightly different flavor and aroma.
Unrefined sesame is light in color, offers a nutty flavor, and is best used when cooking at low to medium heat. Refined sesame oil, which is more processed, has a neutral flavor and is best for deep- or stir-frying.
Toasted sesame oil has a deep brown color and delicate flavor, making it best suited for dressings and marinades.
Here are easy dishes to which you can add sesame oil to your diet:
- sesame noodles
- marinades for meat or fish
- sauces or dips
You can likely find sesame oil in your local grocery store or purchase it online.
Summary: Many recipes call for sesame oil, and different types of this oil can be used for different cooking needs.
Sesame oil is a delicious and healthy fat to add to your diet.
Thanks to its antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties, it may benefit your heart, joints, skin, hair, and more. However, more research on humans is needed to investigate these potential effects.
You can take advantage of the potential benefits of sesame oil by adding it to recipes and consuming it as part of a balanced diet.