Botanical name: Sesamun indicum
Sesame seeds are tiny, flat oval seeds with a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible crunch. They come in a host of different colors, depending upon the variety, including white, yellow, black and red.
Sesame seeds may be the oldest condiment known to man. Sesame seeds are highly valued for their high content of sesame oil that is very resistant to rancidity.
Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese; they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.
This rich assortment of minerals translates into the following health benefits:
Copper Provides Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Copper is known for its use in reducing some of the pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis. Copper’s effectiveness is due to the fact that this trace mineral is important in a number of antiinflammatory and antioxidant enzyme systems. In addition, copper plays an important role in the activity of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme needed for the cross-linking of collagen and elastin—the ground substances that provide structure, strength and elasticity in blood vessels, bones and joints.
Order here: Til (white sesame)
Magnesium Supports Vascular and Respiratory Health
Studies have supported magnesium’s usefulness in
- Preventing the airway spasm in asthma; lowering high blood pressure, a contributing factor in heart attack, stroke, and diabetic heart disease;
- Preventing the trigeminal blood vessel spasm that triggers migraine attacks
- Restoring normal sleep patterns in women who are experiencing unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause
Calcium Helps Prevent Colon Cancer, Osteoporosis, Migraine and PMS
In recent studies, calcium has been shown to:
Help protect colon cells from cancer-causing chemicals
Help prevent the bone loss that can occur as a result of menopause or certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
Help prevent migraine headaches in those who suffer from them
Reduce PMS symptoms during the luteal phase (the second half) of the menstrual cycle
NOTE: there is a substantial difference between the calcium content of hulled versus unhulled sesame seeds. When the hulls remain on the seeds, one tablespoon of sesame seeds will contains about 88 milligrams of calcium. When the hulls are removed, this same tablespoon will contain about 37 milligrams (about 60% less).
Although the seed hulls provide an additional 51 milligrams of calcium per tablespoon of seeds, the calcium found in the hulls appears in large part to be found in the form of calcium oxalate. This form of calcium is less absorbable form of calcium.
Zinc for Bone Health
Sesame Seeds’ Phytosterols Lower Cholesterol
Phytosterols are compounds found in plants that have a chemical structure very similar to cholesterol, and when present in the diet in sufficient amounts, are believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response and decrease risk of certain cancers. Sesame seeds have the highest total phytosterol content (400-413 mg per 100 grams)
Phytosterols beneficial effects are so dramatic that they have been extracted from soybean, corn, and pine tree oil and added to processed foods, such as “butter”-replacement spreads, which are then touted as cholesterol-lowering “foods.” But Mother Nature’s nuts and seeds are a naturally rich source of phytosterols—and cardio-protective fiber, minerals and healthy fats.