Cultivated for thousands of years, the sesame plant is believed to be the world’s oldest plant used as an oil; the oil itself is derived from the plant’s flat, nutty seeds. Allegedly, sesame was used by ancient Egyptians for medicinal purposes and by ancient Greek and Roman soldiers as an energizing snack. The Chinese prized this oil for its beneficial culinary and medicinal uses, and even used it as an ingredient to create ink. Today, sesame oil is still used for a tremendous variation of purposes. Most commonly, it is found in cuisines worldwide, used in massage practices, favored as a carrier oil for cosmetic products, and is found as a base in medicinal herbal oils.
The range of the health benefits of organic sesame oil cover an impressive scope. A 2006 study publicized by The Journal of Medicinal Food discovered that using sesame oil as the primary culinary oil is especially beneficial for hypertensive diabetics, as it can drastically lower blood pressure and plasma glucose. Other research indicates the incredible powers of sesamol in sesame oil, which appears to inhibit the production of atherosclerosis lesions as well as autoimmune encephalomyelitis (multiple sclerosis) in rats; although not officially proven, researchers are keen to believe that sesame oil may have similar benefits in human patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis.[i]
High concentrations of sesamin and sesamol have even led to organic sesame oil’s ranking as a cancer-fighting superfood. Experts have discovered that these antioxidants induce mitochondrial apoptosis in a range of cancers: a study that investigated the effect of different concentrations of sesamol on oxidative stress in colorectal carcinoma cells proved that high concentrations of sesamol indeed induced the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway in human colon cancer cells via a pro-oxidant effect.[ii] Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that he risk of colorectal tumors decreased by 13%--with the risk of cancer decreasing by 12% for every 100mg of magnesium—a key component of sesame oil—ingested.[iii]
Another study of sesamin, the lipid-soluble lignan that is also a major constituent of sesame, explored the mechanism underlying the protective effect of sesamin on prostate cancer cell proliferation and invasion.[iv] The effect of sesamin on apoptosis and cell cycle arrest is even apparent in human breast cancer cells, with results of a different study suggesting that sesamin could be used as a dietary supplement to prevent breast cancer by effectively inhibiting tumor cell growth.[v]
Mission Skin Detox: Rejuvenating the Skin and Freeing You from Free Radicals
Sesame oil molecules attract oil-soluble toxins, thereby helping to detoxify the skin of free radicals and other such toxins. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, organic sesame oil serves as an outstanding moisturizer to cultivate and preserve soft, nourished, and supple skin that is far less prone to wrinkles, dryness, and inflammations. Due to its high levels of anti-inflammatory components and antioxidants—namely sesamol, sesamolin, and sesamin reigning—sesame oil reigns as a spectacular tool for combatting skin diseases as well as for boosting the body’s immune system. It’s safe to use daily all year round, but you’ll find it especially beneficial in the summer, when you can slather it on as an organic sunscreen. Not only does sesame oil give you the choice to thus avoid chemical sunscreens and any toxic residues they leave on your skin—it also ensures that you’re protected from free radicals, forming a protective film over the skin; you can even mix it up with a bit of carrot seed oil to keep your skin further hydrated.
Brimming with amino acids that promote a spectrum of proteins and minerals ranging from iron, calcium, and magnesium to phosphorus, zinc, and copper, it should come as no surprise that sesame oil provides a host of health-promoting benefits due to such antiviral and antibacterial properties. Due to its high level of viscosity and its easy absorbability, sesame oil is ideal for massaging, since it is capable of penetrating and nourishing the pores of the skin, helping it regulate your blood circulation as well as giving your skin a beautiful sheen and silky texture.
- As a rejuvenating facial mask: Apply oil on your face—enjoying twofold benefits, as it also acts as a natural sunscreen—and leave it for 15 minutes; rinse with warm water. You can close small pore by mixing the oil with a bit of rice powder.[vi]
- As a night cream: Mix a bit of sesame oil and lavender oil; massage it against your skin gently with circular motions to improve blood circulation. You’ll wake with refreshed skin while the antioxidants of the cream keep skin infections at bay while you sleep.
- Apply sesame oil before showering; since the oil is capable of removing toxins from the skin, it will help you rinse off toxins much more easily. You can also apply sesame oil after your shower as an organic moisturizer, massaging the oil onto your clean skin and letting your body absorb it naturally.
Boosting Your Immunity from the Inside Out
Traditionally, Indians have been “oil pulling” for hundreds of years, coming up with a folk remedy that combatted tooth decay, bleeding gums, dry throat, and oral malador. Sesame seed oil is excellent for oral health, with one of its most prominent benefits revolving around the effective removal of dental plaque. It’s as easy as performing a pit of “oil pulling”—the practice of just swishing oil around in your mouth, thereby boosting oral health and even whitening your teeth. Studies show that oil pulling can reduce the amount of streptococcus mutants in teeth plaque and in saliva, further improving and maintaining oral health.[vii]
- Take 1 tbsp. of organic sesame oil orally, without swallowing. Swish it slowly around your mouth and draw it in between your teeth for 15-20 minutes. Thoroughly chew it and mix it with your saliva; chewing activates enzymes, which draw toxins out of the blood. Therefore, take care not to swallow the oil. When you rinse your mouth, you’ll find that the oil has become thinner and white. Rinse thoroughly; to remove all remaining oil, you can gargle with warm water peppered with salt and baking soda; don’t forget to brush your teeth and tongue.[viii]
It’s probably not the best idea to swallow it if you’re using the oil as a mouthwash, but in any other instance you must not hesitate to use it as a cooking ingredient—if it is the type of sesame oil that has been prepared for cooking. In general, light sesame oil has a high smoking point and is suitable for deep-drying; dark sesame oil (also called “toasted” or “Asian”) is not, but it can be used for stir-frying, sautéing, and soup or salad dressings. Organic sesame oil is a spectacular component of a high-protein diet—especially for vegetarians and vegans—as it packs in as much as 4.7 grams of protein per ounce. Thanks to its rich degree of magnesium, phosphorous, vitamins, and other nutrients, it is a culinary miracle for preventing diabetes, reducing blood pressure, and even protecting against DNA damage cause by radiation.
You can find hundreds of recipes using sesame oil online, but here are just a handful of our favorites:
- This delicious and super easy sautéed spinach with toasted sesame oil (it was a close tie with this similarly wonderful recipe of Tuscan kale with sesame oil).
- These 23 (that’s right) mouthwatering recipes that have somehow completely perfected the blend of sesame oil and soy sauce.
- This no-fuss barbeque chicken recipe with its zesty marinade that is sure to have you licking your fingers.
- These no-brainer simple sesame noodles—we bet one bowl won’t be enough.
- And, for the bold and fancy, roll up your sleeves and whip yourself up some steamed scallops with stir-fried corn and chili with pineapple rice.