The seed of the Sesame plant, Sesamum Indicum L., is a nutritional powerhouse containing a great deal of medicinal and nutritional compounds that grant several health benefits to consumers.
Few nuts and seeds comes close to Sesame in medicinal application. Each tiny sesame seed is chock-full of nutritional benefits, making them worth their weight in gold. It’s not surprising then that this commodity was largely sought after during the middle ages and is seen as an extremely valuable ingredient in various Ayurdevic and traditional health practices.
Here we’ll examine some of the proven health benefits of sesame seeds.
Excellent Source of Fiber
Studies suggest that 30 grams ( 3 tablespoons) of sesame seed contains approximately 3.5 grams of fiber. The recommended daily fibre intake for adult males is 35 – 40grams. As such, consuming three tablespoons of sesame will give you up to 10% of your daily fibre requirement. Few unprocessed food items can boast of that much fibre content per gram.
While you don’t have to rely on sesame to meet your daily fibre consumption requirement, eating it regularly can help improve your fibre intake which is advantageous for all-round health. Getting enough fibre content in your diet aids digestion, relieve constipation and improve overall bowel health. In addition, it helps to maintain a healthy weight and lower the risk of diabetes and heart diseases.
Reduce Cholesterol Levels
Dietary studies show that regular sesame seeds consumption can have mitigational effects on cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the body. Some of the constituent compounds in sesame seeds are phytosterols and lignans which are said to cut down cholesterol.
In addition, sesame seeds also contain 3 fats category, 41% polyunsaturated fat, 15% saturated fat, 39% monosaturated fat. This way it provides a healthy fat supply without increasing cholesterol levels.
Plus, the phytosterols abundant in sesame seed also improve the immune system’s response to tumor development. Research has also shown that sesame has a high total phytosterol content @ 400 to 413 milligrams phytosterol per 100 grams of sesame seeds.
Excellent Source of Plant Protein
One of the more common nutritional facts about sesame is its richness in plant protein which is almost on per with soya beans. Approximately 5 grams of protein is obtainable in every 3-tablespoons (30-grams) of Sesame seeds.
In addition to that, roasting the sesame seeds helps the consumer get the maximum protein content from it as the roasting process eliminate phytates and oxalates that hampar protein digestion and absorption.
The plant protein obtainable from sesame seeds helps in muscle and hormone development. In addition, sesame is an excellent supplementary protein source to legumes. It contains high amounts of methionine and cysteine, which are only present in small amounts in legumes.
Supports Healthy Bone Development
In addition to its protein content, sesame seeds are rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese and zinc, nutrients that contribute to bone health.
These nutrients in sufficient quantity are essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones. For example, adequate calcium intake helps in preventing osteoporosis.
However, it’s important to note that the oxalates and phytate present in sesame seeds affect the digestion and absorption of these minerals. As such you should consider roasting, soaking or sprouting the seeds before consumption to reduce the effects of these compounds and improve the nutrient absorption.
Rich in Antioxidants
Sesame seeds contain various antioxidants, such as lignans and vitamin E. As such, consuming sesame seeds will increase the overall level of antioxidant activity in your body such as neutralizing free radicals in the body.
The Lignans also help to combat oxidative stress which is a common cause of cell damage
This may contribute to a reduced risk of chronic diseases and aging.
Improve Oral Health
Notably, sesame oil has been traditionally proven to be effective in oil pulling, a practice involving swishing and gaggling oil to get rid of plaque and unfriendly bacteria in the mouth.
While sesame oil is more effective for oral health purposes, chewing sesame seeds can also be effective to a significant extent. That’s because the fatty acids present in sesame seeds have impressive astringent and antibacterial effects when broken down in the mouth through chewing.
In addition, Sesame has proven to be effective in combatting streptococcus, a common bacteria that negatively affects oral health.
Contributes to Healthy Skin and Hair Growth
Sesame seeds and oils are rich in zinc, which is important for the production of collagen, a compound that vitalizes the skin and hair tissue. Increased collagen production directly contributes to maintaining healthy skin and hair.
Interestingly, the effects of the zinc in sesame seeds are said to be potent enough to clear burn marks and other scars on the skin. Undoubtedly, sesame oil is a common ingredient in most skincare products aimed at preventing the effects of aging on the visible parts of the body.
Additionally, the antioxidants in sesame seeds help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals in the body. As such, sesame is useful for preventing and reversing skin damage
Improves Respiratory Health
Magnesium consumption is shown to alleviate asthma attacks and improve lung function. Most asthma atacks are triggered when dust and other allergens irritate the lungs. Magnesium mitigate the production of histamine, an antibody produced in response to the allergens irritating the lung. Histamine affects the lungs and is responsible for most asthma attacks. Thus, magnesium helps to prevent histamine-induced attacks.
Studies have also shown that many Asthma patients are magnesium deficient. Sesame is a rich source of magnesium that help to prevent asthma and maintain a healthy respiratory system. In addition, it helps to stenghten the bronchial muscles, contributing to a healthy respiratory structure and lung function.
Sesame boasts of many more nutritional benefits. It’s high Iron content make it beneficial for preventing and treating iron-deficiency anemia. Similarly, its anti-inflammatory properties help to lower the risk of chronic disease development.
However, It’s worth noting that sesame seeds are calorie-dense, so moderation is key, especially for those watching their caloric intake. In addition, some people exhibit allergic reactions to sesame consumption. As such, you should consume it moderately and be sure of how your body would handle it before using sesame.