Sesame seeds are tiny, oil-rich edible seeds found on the tropical Sesame plant grown in Asia, Africa, and South America. The seeds, brown when roasted are rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants. They are rich in fiber, healthy fats, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, manganese, and zinc. Here are the health and nutrition benefits of consuming sesame seeds also known as sim sim.
Health benefits of sesame seeds
The antioxidants and vitamin E help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E also supports the immune system, promotes vascular health by widening blood vessels, and prevents blood clots from happening.
Calcium is essential in supporting the health and function of muscles, hormones, blood vessels, nerves, and cell signalling.
B vitamins are essential because they turn the nutrients in food consumed into energy that the body can use. B vitamins also support cell growth and the production of red blood cells.
The healthy fats, magnesium, fibre, phosphorus, calcium, and iron work as energy sources making sesame seed a great source of energy.
Sesame seeds are a good source of fibre. Fibre is well-known for supporting digestive health. This makes them great for treating constipation and just improving bowel movements. It also plays a role in reducing the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Supports heart health
Sesame seeds support heart health in a variety of ways including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure which lower the risk of heart disease. Calcium and magnesium in sesame seeds may help reduce blood pressure and protect blood vessel health. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats lower the levels of unhealthy cholesterol in the blood.
May reduce inflammation
Inflammation is linked to a variety of chronic illnesses including cancer, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. Sesame seeds help fight inflammation in the body helping prevent disease. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of joint pain, frequently affecting the knees.
One study found that patients who took sesame seed powder along with drug therapy experienced a 65% decrease in knee pain compared to only a 22% decrease for the group doing drug therapy alone.
Supports healthy bone and oral health
Sesame seeds have calcium which and zinc both of which play a role in strengthening the bone structure with studies showing regular consumption can help prevent osteoporosis later in life.
Sesame seeds also promote oral health by getting rid of the bacteria that cause plaque on the teeth. Gargling sesame oil in an ancient practice called oil pulling in which one swishes oil in the morning has been shown to improve oral health when practised correctly and regularly. This practice helps keep the mouth clean and germ-free.
A nutritious source of plant protein
Protein is essential in the body, building everything from muscles to hormones. It also plays a key role in promoting growth in the body.
May aid in blood sugar control
Sesame seeds are low in carbs and high in protein and healthy fats all of which support blood sugar control. Research shows that the oil of sesame seeds enhances the effectiveness of traditional type 2 diabetes medication when taken together.
Sesame seeds are known for their antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Their antibacterial activity has been proven to fight against staph infections and strep throat as well as common skin fungi like athlete’s foot.
May support thyroid health
Selenium plays a vital role in making thyroid hormones. Sesame seeds are a good source of selenium, in this way supporting thyroid health. The seeds are also a good source of iron, copper, zinc, and vitamin B6, all of which support the production of thyroid hormones and aid thyroid health.
May aid hormone balance during menopause
Sesame seeds contain phytoestrogen which is a plant compound similar to the hormone estrogen. For this reason, these seeds may help counteract hot flashes and other symptoms associated with low estrogen levels. These compounds may even decrease your risk of certain diseases such as breast cancer during menopause.
Sesame seeds are easy to add to your diet. They are commonly consumed as sweets or dessert snacks and made by mixing the roasted seeds with warm jaggery or other sugars. Roasted seeds can also be added to stir-fries, salads, smoothies, cereal, granola, bread, muffins, and garnishes among others.