Science-Backed Benefits of Sesame Oil
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 sesame seeds and has culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic uses (1).
This article lists 10 science-backed benefits of sesame oil.
1. High in antioxidants
Sesame oil contains sesamol and sesaminol, two antioxidants that may have powerful effects on your health (2).
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 (3).
A one-month study in rats found that taking sesame oil supplements protected against heart cell damage (4).
In that same study, antioxidant activity increased in rats that received either about 2 or 5 ml of sesame oil per pound (5 or 10 ml per kg) of body weight daily (4).
Sesame oil may have similar effects when used topically. One study in rats showed it may reduce cell damage by inhibiting compounds like xanthine oxidase and nitric oxide, which produce free radicals (5).
2. Has strong anti-inflammatory properties
Chronic inflammation can be harmful and lead to illness, which is why itâ€™s important to limit it as much as possible (6).
Traditional Taiwanese medicine has long employed sesame oil for its anti- inflammatory properties, using it to treat joint inflammation, toothaches, and scrapes (7).
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 (1, 7, 8).
However, more studies in humans are needed.
3. Good for your heart
A well-established body of research shows that a diet rich in unsaturated fats is good for heart health (9, 10).
Sesame oil comprises 82% unsaturated fatty acids (11).
In particular, itâ€™s rich in omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is essential to your diet and plays an important role in heart disease prevention (12).
Research in rats suggests that sesame oil may help prevent heart disease and even slow the development of plaque in your arteries (1).
In fact, it may lower your cholesterol levels when used in place of oils high in saturated fats.
A 1-month study in 48 adults found those who consumed 4 tablespoons (59 ml) of sesame oil daily had greater reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, compared with those who consumed olive oil (13).
4. May help control blood sugar
Sesame oil may support healthy blood sugar regulation, which is especially important 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 that were not fed the oil (14).
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 (15).
5. May help treat arthritis
Osteoarthritis affects nearly 15% of the population and is a common cause of joint pain (16).
Several rodent studies have linked sesame oil to improvements in arthritis (17, 18, 19, 20).
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 markers of oxidative stress and arthritic symptoms, such as joint pain (16).
Although animal studies have demonstrated that sesame oil may offer arthritis relief, research in humans is needed.
6. 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 â€” known as ozonated oils â€” are used topically to treat various skin conditions (21).
In one rat study, topical treatment with ozonated sesame oil was linked to higher levels of collagen in wound tissue. Collagen is a structural protein necessary for wound healing (21).
Other studies have demonstrated that topical treatment with sesame oil reduced burn and wound healing time in mice, though human research in this area is lacking (22, 23).
The oilâ€™s ability to speed the healing of wounds and burns can likely be attributed to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (24).
7. 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 (25).
In fact, it has the ability to resist 30% of UV rays, while many other oils, such as coconut, peanut, and olive oils, can resist only 20% (25).
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 to protect from the strong rays of the sun, so itâ€™s best to use sunscreen.
8â€“10. Other potential benefits
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 a 2-week period improved sleep quality and quality of life, compared with a placebo treatment (26).
- Topical application may relieve pain. Some studies have shown that a massage with sesame oil may help reduce arm and leg pain (7, 27).
- 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 (28). Summary Though more extensive research is needed, sesame oil may improve sleep, enhance hair health, and relieve pain when used topically.
Easy ways to add it to your diet
Sesame oil adds a delicious and nutty flavor to a wide variety of dishes. Itâ€™s a popular ingredient in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
There are several varieties of this oil, 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 a 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 that makes it best suited for dressings and marinades.
Here are easy dishes in which you can add sesame oil into 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.
The bottom line
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 in 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.
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