12 Amazing Health Benefits of Sesame Oil

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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The health benefits of sesame oil include its ability to improve skin and hair health, help in bone growth, and alleviate some dental issues and cardiovascular ailments.  It also shows positive implications for managing anxiety and depression, protecting infant health, and even helping to improve the digestive process.

What is Sesame Oil?

Sesame oil, or gingelly oil, which comes from sesame seeds, is a lesser-known vegetable oil. It is, in fact, a healthier alternative to normal vegetable oils. Sesame seeds are small, yellowish-brown seeds that are primarily found in Africa, but they also grow in smaller numbers on the Indian subcontinent.

Sesame oil has gained quite a bit of popularity in recent years because it is relatively inexpensive to extract (simple hot water flotation or a variety of pressing techniques). However, this oil is best acquired when the seeds are completely ripe, which means that the outer shells burst. The challenge is the manual processing that sesame seeds require; there will always be more demand than supply.

The impressive amount of vitamins such as vitamin E and vitamin K, as evidenced by the  USDA National Nutrient Database, organic compounds, and other beneficial components in sesame oil are a few of the reasons why it is considered so healthy.

A jar of sesame oil with a steel scoop and bowl filled with sesame seeds

Nutrition Facts

Oil, sesame, salad or cooking
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]0
Energy [kcal]884
Protein [g]0
Total lipid (fat) [g]100
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]0
Fiber, total dietary [g]0
Sugars, total [g]0
Calcium, Ca [mg]0
Iron, Fe [mg]0
Magnesium, Mg [mg]0
Phosphorus, P [mg]0
Potassium, K [mg]0
Sodium, Na [mg]0
Zinc, Zn [mg]0
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0
Thiamin [mg]0
Riboflavin [mg]0
Niacin [mg]0
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0
Folate, DFE [µg]0
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]0
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]1.4
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]13.6
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]14.2
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]39.7
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]41.7
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Health Benefits of Sesame Oil

Let’s take a closer look at what health benefits can actually be enjoyed when you add this oil to your diet.

Hair Care

Sesame oil has traditionally been used to improve hair health. A study conducted on the bioactive components of sesame oil revealed that black sesame oil can help retain the natural hair color and minimize hair loss. Furthermore, the anti-bacterial effects of gingelly oil can help eliminate the pathogens or foreign bodies that can attack your scalp or hair.

Diabetes

A pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2006, found that adding sesame oil to the diet can help manage the plasma glucose levels in hypertensive diabetic adults. It is also helpful in lowering high blood pressure in this same population. More research conducted on a larger sample is needed to support these initial findings.

Skin Care

Gingelly oil is rich in zinc, given it is extracted from zinc-rich sesame seeds. Zinc is one of the most important minerals for your skin. It can increase skin elasticity and smoothness and reduce oxidative stress, thereby helping reduce the appearance of age spots and premature aging.

A study conducted by researchers at California State University, Los Angeles, USA, revealed that applying sesame oil topically to the skin can help create a protective layer and protect skin from harmful UV rays. In some places, sesame oil has even been used to treat fungal diseases on the skin.

Protects Heart Health

Sesame oil is a heart-friendly oil because of its fatty acid content. According to research conducted and published in the study the ‘Effect of sesame oil on serum and liver lipid profiles in the rat’,  sesame oil is able to lower bad cholesterol levels as it contains a wide range of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including sesamol and sesamin. These fatty acids keep the cardiovascular system strong and the LDL cholesterol levels low, thereby preventing atherosclerosis. You may be better protected from a heart attack and stroke if you add sesame oil to your diet; however, more research is needed to substantiate these initial findings.

Improves Bone Quality

Copper and calcium, two minerals present in sesame, are integral to bone growth in the body.  Mechanisms in sesame may help speed up any healing or regrowth of bones. As you get older, sesame oil can help you avoid osteoporosis and various age-related weaknesses in the bones.

Relieves Anxiety

Tyrosine, in gingelly oil, has been directly connected to serotonin activity in the brain. Increased activity can help boost mood by flooding the body with enzymes and hormones that make a person feel happy. In other words, when you are suffering from anxiety or depression, sesame oil may give you a positive boost and turn your mood around.

Oral Health

Sesame oil is highly recommended in Ayurvedic medicine and by some dental professionals because of a process called oil pulling; this involves putting oil in your mouth, and then, swishing it around prior to spitting it out. With sesame oil, this process has been directly linked to whiter teeth, lower levels of dental plaque, and protection against certain streptococcus mutants that can make us very ill. The powerful anti-bacterial effect of this oil is the main reason for this boost in dental health.

Health benefits of sesame oil - infographic

Prevents Cancer

Studies suggest that sesame oil rich in sesamol lignan and sesamin may help in inducing apoptosis and preventing the growth of cancer cells in case of colon cancer.

Gingelly oil contains an organic compound called phytate, which may provide protection against cancer. Furthermore, the linoleic acid levels in sesame oil are high. This essential mineral has been primarily linked to reduced chances of colorectal cancer.

However, more research and scientific evidence are needed.

Boosts Circulation & Metabolism

High copper content means that the body is able to function at its optimal levels, mainly because copper is required for the production of red blood cells. With a significant percentage of copper in sesame oil, it allows your body to work towards an adequate, but not an excessive amount of these minerals, and therefore the blood flow to the organs and tissues, ensuring a healthier lifestyle.

Reduces Inflammation

Sesame oil is rich in copper, which is a natural anti-inflammatory substance that can help reduce the inflammation and discomfort of various conditions, including gout and arthritis. It reduces the swelling of joints and strengthens the bones and blood vessels. This keeps your frame strong and sturdy for many years without any painful inflammation.

Prevents DNA Damage

Sesame oil contains a dietary phytochemical called sesamol, which has antioxidant properties. According to a study published in the Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology journal, these antioxidant properties of sesamol help to protect against radiation-induced DNA damage.

Infant Growth

Research published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, suggests that use of oils like herbal oils, mustard oil, sesame oil for massaging infants can help boost growth, increase blood circulation and induces proper sleep post massage in infants.

Uses Of Sesame Oil

  • Sesame oil is used in cooking, and it is most commonly used in Asian cuisines, including Chinese, Japanese, and Southeast Asian dishes, as well as in Middle Eastern cuisines.
  • Sesame oil has also been used in massages, due to its beneficial effects on the body and skin.
  • It is a highly sought-after oil, even as a carrier oil for various cosmetic products.

Word of Caution: If you are taking anticoagulant or blood-thinning medications, you should speak with your doctor before adding sesame oil to your diet. It lowers your blood pressure and thins the blood. So, combining those could be potentially dangerous. Otherwise, enjoy it in any way you like. Happy cooking!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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