Food in the Spotlight

Those Tiny Sesame Seeds Are Bursting With Big Health Benefits

Ever wonder how the famous phrase “Open Sesame” from the Arabian Nights came about? Many people believe that this phrase reflects a distinguishing feature of the sesame pod. It bursts open upon reaching maturity. Sesamun indicum is the scientific name for sesame seeds.

Those Tiny Sesame Seeds Are Bursting With Big Health Benefits 1Sesame seeds are said to have been grown since prehistoric times and have been mentioned in some legends in a number of ancient cultures.  They were also one of the first crops to have been processed for oil and are one of the earliest condiments used by humankind.  

Ever wonder how the famous phrase “Open Sesame” from the Arabian Nights came about?  Many people believe that this phrase reflects a distinguishing feature of the sesame pod.  It bursts open upon reaching maturity.  Sesamun indicum is the scientific name for sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds are tiny and flat seeds that are oval in shape.  They have a delicate, almost invisible crunch and have a nutty taste.  They come in various colors like yellow, white, red, and black.  Aside from being used in various Mediterranean diet recipes, sesame seeds are also highly valued for the sesame oil they contain.  Sesame oil is a staple in many recipes in the Mediterranean diet.

Sesame seeds may be tiny but they contain many nutrients that give many health benefits.  Sesame seeds contain many nutrients like iron, vitamin B1, phosphorus, and dietary fiber.  Sesame seeds also have two unique substances:  sesamolin and sesamin.  These belong to the lignans, a group of beneficial fibers that are said to have a cholesterol lowering effect and can help prevent high blood pressure while increasing vitamin E supplies in the body.   Sesamin is also said to help protect the liver from oxidative damage.  Aside from these, here are the other minerals found in sesame seeds that are beneficial to the human body:

Copper

Copper, which can be found in sesame seeds, is known to help reduce some of the pain and swelling that comes with rheumatoid arthritis.  Copper is important in many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory enzyme systems in the human body.  It also plays a crucial role in the activity of lysyl oxidase.  Lysyl oxidase in an enzyme needed for the cross-linking of elastin and collagen, the ground substances that provide strength, structure, and elasticity to bones, joints, and blood vessels.

Magnesium

Magnesium is said to be useful in lowering high blood pressure, a condition that contributes to diabetic heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.  Magnesium is also said to help prevent airway spasm in asthmatic people and trigeminal blood vessel spasm that triggers attacks of migraine.  This mineral is also helpful in restoring normal sleep patterns among women who experience this and other unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause.

Calcium

Calcium is another mineral found in sesame seeds that is said to help prevent migraine headaches to chronic sufferers and prevent bone loss due to menopause, rheumatoid arthritis, and other conditions.  Calcium can also help protect colon cells from chemicals that can cause cancer.  It can also help reduce PMS symptoms during the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Zinc

Sesame seeds are rich in zinc, a mineral that helps a person maintain the right bone mineral density.  This is why sesame seeds are good for older men and women especially those who suffer from osteoporosis.

Phytosterols

These are compounds found in plants that have a chemical structure to cholesterol.  However, phytosterols are directly opposite to cholesterols because if they are taken in sufficient amounts, they can reduce the levels of cholesterol in the blood, help decrease the risk of certain kinds of cancer, and can help enhance a body’s immune response.  These beneficial effects of phytosterols are the main reasons why they are extracted from sesame, pine tree, soybean, and corn oil to be added to some processed foods.  Among these, sesame seeds have the highest total content of phytosterol.

…hope that was helpful,

Ray Baker