11 Powerful Health Benefits of Sesame Oil

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

The powerful health benefits of sesame oil may include its ability to improve skin and hair health, help in bone growth, maintain good oral health, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular ailments. It might also show positive implications for managing anxiety, protecting infant health, and helping to improve the digestive process.

What is Sesame Oil?

Sesame oil, or gingelly oil, is an edible oil that is derived from sesame seeds. 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 a distinct nutty, flavorful taste and may be considered a healthier alternative to other vegetable oils because of its anti-inflammatory properties. [1]

The 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, it is best extracted 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. [2]

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 may be a few of the reasons why it is considered so healthy. [3] [4]

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

Jar of sesame oil and seeds Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Oil, sesame, salad or cooking
Serving Size :
Energy 884
Energy [kJ]3699
Total lipid (fat) [g]100
Choline, total [mg]0.2
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]1.4
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]13.6
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]14.2
16:0 [g]8.9
18:0 [g]4.8
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]39.7
16:1 [g]0.2
18:1 [g]39.3
20:1 [g]0.2
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]41.7
18:2 [g]41.3
18:3 [g]0.3
Phytosterols [mg]865
Sources include : USDA [5]

Health Benefits of Sesame Oil

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

May Aid In Hair Care

Sesame oil may have traditionally been used to improve hair health, according to a study published in the Pharmacognosy Reviews. The 2014 study conducted on the bioactive components of black sesame oil revealed that it may 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. [6] [7]

May Help in Diabetes Management

A pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2006, found that adding sesame oil to the diet may help manage the plasma glucose levels in hypertensive diabetic adults. It may also be helpful in lowering high blood pressure in this same population. More research conducted on a larger sample is needed to support these initial findings. [8]

May Aid In Skin Care

Gingelly oil may be rich in zinc, given it is extracted from zinc-rich sesame seeds. Zinc is one of the most important minerals for your skin. It might increase skin elasticity and smoothness and reduce oxidative stress, thereby helping reduce the appearance of age spots and premature aging. [9] [10] [11]

A 2018 study conducted by researchers at California State University, US, revealed that applying sesame oil topically to the skin may 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. [12]

May Protect 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”, the oil may lower bad cholesterol levels as it may contain 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. However, more research is needed to substantiate these initial findings. [13]

May Improve Bone Quality

Copper and calcium, two minerals potentially 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.

May Relieve Anxiety

Tyrosine, in gingelly oil, has been directly connected to serotonin activity in the brain. Increased activity may 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 sesame oil may give you a positive boost and turn your mood around. [14]

May Improve Oral Health

Sesame or gingelly oil may be highly recommended in Ayurvedic medicine and by some dental professionals because of a process called oil pulling; this may involve putting the oil in your mouth, and then, swishing it around before spitting it out. With sesame oil, this process may have 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 may be the main reason for this boost in dental health.

May Boost Circulation & Metabolism

High copper content means that the body can 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 may allow 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. [15]

Health benefits of sesame oil infographic

Sesame oil, or gingelly oil, is an edible oil that is derived from sesame seeds.

May Reduce Inflammation

Sesame oil is rich in copper, a natural anti-inflammatory substance. Copper may help reduce inflammation and discomfort caused due to gout and arthritis. The mineral may also reduce the swelling of joints and strengthens the bones and blood vessels. Including this copper-rich oil in your diet may help keep your frame strong and sturdy for many years without any painful inflammation. [16]

May Prevent DNA Damage

The oil may contain a dietary phytochemical called sesamol, which has antioxidant properties. According to a study published in the Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology journal, these antioxidant properties may help protect against radiation-induced DNA damage. [17]

May Help In Infant Growth

A report published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research may suggest that the use of oils like herbal oils, mustard oil, and sesame oil for massaging infants can help boost growth. It may also increase blood circulation and induce proper sleep post-massage in infants. [18]

Uses Of Sesame Oil

  • The 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.
  • You may consume it raw by drizzling it over roasted vegetables or on salads.
  • It may be 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, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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