Health Benefits Of Sesame Oil – Queen Of Oils
By Dr Harold Gunatillake
FRCS, FACS (US), FIACS (US),
AM (SING), MBBS (Cey)
Sesame oil obtained from the seed (Sesamumindicum), given many names in different countries, commonly known as gingelly oil, is an edible vegetable oil obtained from sesame seeds. In the Tamil language the oil is called ‘Nalla Ennai’ and in Malayalam language it ls called ‘Nalla Enna’ (Nalla means good). In Sri Lanka we call it ‘Thala Thel’.
The largest producers of sesame seeds are China and India, each annual harvest around 750,000 tons followed by Myanmar (425,000 tons) and Sudan (300,000 tons).
This oil has been used as healing oil for thousands of years.
There are records in the Vedas that this oil has been used to kill common skin pathogens as well as skin fungi as in athlete’s foot.
It also kills the common cocci like staph and streptococcus bacteria, detected in most modern day infections
It is most popular in South Indian cooking, and Chinese, Japanese, Korean, uses as a flavor. It has a nutty flavor and used in most Asian recipes to add a bold kick to marinades, dressings, and sauces.
Japan dominates the purchasing side of the trade for sesame seed, with an annual requirement up to 165,000 tons. Sesame oil, particularly from roasted seed, is an important component of Japanese cooking and traditionally this is the principal use of the seed
Sesame oil has a very high smoke point like coconut oil and is suitable for deep frying. Roasted sesame seed oil has a slightly lower smoke point and is unsuitable for deep frying, but used for stir frying of meats or vegetables. Omelets made with this oil are very delicious.
The seeds, hulled or dehulled, roasted or raw are now widely used in the European, North American and Australian bakery industry as a garnish on bread products. For bakery products it is more a question of consumer preference: the McDonald’s burger buns, for example, use only the whitest grades of de-hulled seed which have been treated to maintain their whiteness on baking, whereas other bread products exploit the darker color of the whole seeds to give aesthetic appeal.
Sesame oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and is an excellent unsaturated oil for heart health, unlike most saturated fatty acids. Peanut oil is a good substitute for sesame oil, as it has a similar flavor with nearly identical nutritional values.
In India it has been used for unblocking arteries (no studies available) and in Holland the Ayurveda physicians have used the oil in several chronic diseases, including hepatitis, diabetes and migraine. It is supposed to help in hair growth.
In an experiment at the Maharishi International College in Fairfield, Iowa, students rinsed their mouths with sesame oil, resulting in an 85% reduction in the bacteria which causes gingivitis.
The oil is traditionally used by the Ayurveda physicians in Sri Lanka in their medications. Masseuse use as a lubricant for body massages.
It is found that the oil seems to nourish the skin; penetration through the skin is high. Ancient Indian medical system perceives sesame oil to pacify stress related symptoms
No wonder, in Sri Lanka most people stop midway travelling from Colombo to Kandy to purchase their quota of “Thala Guli” famous as Jinadasa’s, on the way side in Ambepussa. It is customary to eat a few juggery incorporated gulees (balls) before re-starting the journey, and also take away parcels to give to the host and family friends. By most people it is a most welcome delightful treat.
The oil penetrates the skin as said earlier, and neutralizes the harmful oxygen radicles (no studies available). Molecules of sesame seed oil maintain good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL). The oil is a source of vitamin E, considered an antioxidant.
The oil is supposed to help in the regulation of cell growth, and may help in the slower replication of cancer cells.
Sniffing the oil when suffering from a runny nose due to the cold virus or allergy relieves symptoms.
It helps sufferers of psoriasis and dry skin ailments. It is an excellent moisturizer for the skin, and maintains the skin soft shiny and moist. It has been successfully used in the hair of children to kill lice infestations. It is a useful natural UV protector.
In Jaffna the Tamil people apply sesame oil on the whole body and expose themselves to the sun frequently. The skin does not burn due to the blockage of UV rays. The oil gets absorbed through the skin and nourishes with the nutritional content.
People having diabetes may use the oil or consume the seeds liberally as the carbohydrates content is nil, unlike most other seeds.
It has a natural laxative effect and should not be used by people who suffer from constant diarrhea.
Some people may get allergic to sesame oils like peanut oil.
• Stir fry rice with some vegetables. Use very small quantity of oil to get a nice taste. You could also stir fry meat (chicken, beef, etc.) with vegetables.
• Drizzle some sesame oil over some kind of noodles or pasta, especially if they are cold.
• When you heat sesame oil in frying, it loses a lot of the smell and the flavor. So it is better to use at the end as a flavor ingredient and not to fry using as the main oil.
Nutritional Value Per 100 G (3.5 Oz)
Energy - 3,699 kJ (884 kcal)
Carbohydrates - 0.00 g
Fat - 100.00 g
- saturated - 14.200 g
- monounsaturated - 39.700 g
- polyunsaturated - 41.700 g
Protein - 0.00 g
Vitamin C - 0.0 mg (0%)
Vitamin E - 1.40 mg (9%)
Vitamin K - 13.6 μg (13%)
Calcium - 0 mg (0%)
Iron - 0.00 mg (0%)
Magnesium - 0 mg (0%)
Phosphorus - 0 mg (0%)
Potassium - 0 mg (0%)
Sodium - 0 mg (0%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database