Sesame seeds that have been in cultivation for thousands of years are perhaps the oldest oil rich seeds. Known as the ‘queen of oil seeds’, strongly endorsed by Ayurveda and other traditional forms of medicine for stimulating body heat, energy and for skin, hair benefits, these tiny seeds are a must-have in every Indian household.
Grown in the pods of Sesamum indicum (botanical name), a flowering plant mostly found in the tropical regions of India and Africa, sesame is a cash rich crop that can withstand severe drought conditions.
Known as Tila in Sanskrit, Til in Hindi, Ellu in Tamil and Nuvvulu in Telugu, sesame seeds hold equal significance in Indian medicinal forms like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, cuisines and rituals.
These super tiny, nutty flavoured seeds are prized by various holistic and alternative medicines for its therapeutic properties and its ability to fight against health conditions related or factors that can induce metabolic disorders, inflammatory and infectious diseases.
Include a spoonful of sesame in your daily diet for its antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-cancerous properties, among others.
It protects your liver health, serves as a gastroprotective factor besides restoring hormonal balance in women.
Sesame seeds are a powerhouse of protein for building muscle mass, oil, mineral ash, fiber, soluble carbohydrates, phytate, a host of B vitamins and dietary minerals like magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and phosphorous.
These tiny, oily seeds are available in the market in various avatars. One can find them unhulled – with intact edible and outer husk, hulled ones without the husk, black sesame seeds, roasted ones in golden brown colour.
Choose any variety and include them in your daily diet to derive numerous health benefits.
Amazing Benefits of Sesame
Sesame seeds are an amazing source of fibre. Around 30 grams of unhulled sesame seeds provide you with 3.25 grams of fibre amounting to 12 per cent of referred daily intake. Good amount of fibre intake promotes digestion, prevents certain types of cancers, provides heart health, reduces the risk of obesity and controls type 2 diabetes.
2. Healthy Bones:
Regular consumption of sesame seeds along with hull provides good amounts of calcium, especially for women which in turn contributes to healthy bones. Since, these seeds contain natural compounds like phytates and oxalates that may slow down the absorption of nutrients in the body, eat them after roasting, soaking or sprouting. This will reduce the concentration of these natural compounds by at least half, facilitating more nutrient absorption.
3. Heals Inflammation:
Various studies reveal that sesame seeds top the list of anti-inflammatory foods, thanks to sesamin a rich compound found both in seeds and oil. Chronic inflammation can lead to obesity, cancer and ups the risk of heart diseases and kidney ailments.
4. Reduces Cholesterol and Triglycerides:
Sesame seeds possess around 15 per cent of saturated fats, 39 per cent of monounsaturated fat and 41 per cent of polyunsaturated fat. Higher amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats along with two plant compounds – lignans and phytosterols widely present in the seeds control the levels of bad cholesterol. Doctors recommend eating around 40 grams of sesame seeds daily, to witness around 10 per cent of reduction in total triglycerides.
5. Rich Source of Vitamin B:
Many vegetarians are reportedly Vitamin B deficient. B vitamins are responsible for various bodily functions like boosting metabolism and regulating cell function. Around 30 grams of both hulled and unhulled sesame seeds provide 19 per cent of thiamine, 11 per cent of niacin and 14 per cent of vitamin B6 and help you in meeting your daily dose of vitamin B.
6. Fights Oxidative Stress:
Consuming sesame seeds regularly increases anti-oxidant activity in blood, works against oxidative stress and prevents various chronic diseases. In fact, these seeds are also a rich source of gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E that provides good skin health.
7. Improves Immunity:
These seeds are a rich source of various nutrients like selenium, copper, zinc, iron, vitamin B6, vitamin E that play a crucial role in the production of white blood cells to fight infections. If you are suffering from zinc deficiency, eat these nutty seeds to boost the levels.
8. Plant Protein:
Sesame is a rich plant protein source and a serving of 30 grams can provide you with 5 grams of protein. Studies reveal that hulled and roasted seeds are high on protein as the process reduces the amounts of oxalates and phytates that can interfere with the nutrient absorption. Take these seeds daily to build healthy muscles and for stronger bones.
Sesame seeds are super rich in natural oils which comprise 60% beneficial fatty oil of the lignan family (sesamin and sesamolin). The oil from sesame seed is abundant in linoleic and oleic acids, the majority of which are gamma-tocopherol and other isomers of the vitamin.
Sesame seeds are also a great source of essential amino acids including lysine, tryptophan and methionine. The dense nutrient profile in sesame seeds provide a host of health benefits including prevention of cancer, lowering the risk of heart disease, promoting digestion and making the bones stronger.
Nutrition Value Of Sesame Seeds Per 100 grams
Total fat 49.67 gram
Dietary fibre 11.8 gram
Calcium 975 mg
Magnesium 351 mg
Sodium 11 mg
Thiamin - 0.79mg
Vitamin B6 - 0.79mg
Vitamin A 9mcg
Vitamin E 0.25 mcg
*Source As per USDA
Sesame In Ayurveda
Effect On Doshas
Sesame Oil, also known as Til Tailam in Ayurveda is intrinsically blessed with Tikta (i.e. bitter taste) and Madhura Rasa (i.e. sweet taste) and Kashaya Anurasa (i.e. astringent sub taste). This incredible oil portrays ten potent Gunas or qualities including Guru (i.e. heavy), Ushna (i.e. hot), Sara (i.e. flowing), Balyam (i.e. strength promoter), Sukshma (i.e. minute), Teekshna (i.e. piercing), Vishada (i.e. clear), Lekhana (i.e. scraping), Vyavayi (i.e. mobile) and Vikasi (i.e. loosening). It also shows Ushna Virya (i.e. hot potency) and Madhura Vipaka (i.e. sweet metabolic taste). Being heavy and oily, it pacifies the Vata (air) doshas and Kapha (earth and water) doshas whereas an excess of it can aggravate the Pitta (fire and air) doshas.
Owing to the intrinsic properties and doshas, Eranda taila has a positive effect on the various Dhatus (i.e. body tissues) of the body including Rasa (i.e. Plasma), Rakta (i.e. Blood), Mamsa (i.e. Muscles), Asthi (i.e. Bones) and Shukra (i.e. Reproductive Fluids).
Since ages, sesame oil or til tailam has been used for its extensive therapeutic applications and curative uses and hence it was mentioned time and again in several Puranic texts and ayurvedic scriptures like Charaka Samhita, Sarangadhar Samhita, Ashtanga Hrudaya, Bhaisajya Ratnavali etc. The holistic science of Ayurveda acknowledges this powerful oil for the following main indications which include; Kustha (treats skin disorders), Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Keshya (treats hair problems), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite),Vranahara (helps treat wounds), Shramahara (relieves tiredness), Krumihara (relieves worms), Sulaghnam (relieves pain), Rasayani (rejuvenates the whole body), Balya (improves muscle strength), Anila Shodhanam (flushes morbid Vata), Rasayana (anti-ageing), Virechana (treats constipation), Gulmahara (treats abdominal tumors), Jwara hara (treats fevers), Medhakara (improves intelligence), Smritikara (improves memory), Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), and Varnya (improves complexion).
This is a nourishing and soothing herbal concoction that not only enriches the body with healthful nutrients like calcium, and iron, but also rejuvenates the body and mind and safegaurds from varios infections specially during the chilly winters. Additionally, being a powerful laxative, sesame seeds improves digestion and also normalises Vata irregularity.
1 tbsp black sesame seeds (grounded)
1 glass of warm water
2 tsp of honey
Pinch of cinnamon
Pour the ingredients in a mixer.
Blend it to get a fluffy concoction.
Consume half a cup along with meals or as mid-morning snack.
Sesame For Various Health Conditions:
These tiny oil filled seeds with various therapeutic properties are widely recommended by Ayurveda, unani, siddha and other types of traditional medicines for treating various chronic health conditions. Include sesame in your daily diet for the following benefits.
1. Controls Blood Pressure
Studies reveal that the compounds sesamin and sesamolin present in sesame oil aid in reducing blood pressure naturally and also decrease the strain on cardiovascular system. Sesame seeds are filled up with magnesium up to 25 per cent, a potent vasodilator used in lowering blood pressure and it plays a vital role in protecting cardiovascular health.
2. Manages Diabetes:
A journal published by Clinical Nutrition claims that a therapy involving both sesame oil and anti-diabetic medication lowered blood sugar levels by 36 per cent. Magnesium present in these seeds not only lowers blood pressure but also prevents sudden spike of blood sugar levels.
Magnesium and phytate exhibit strong anti-carcinogenic properties. Eat these seeds to reduce the risk of breast, lung, pancreatic, prostate and colorectal cancers.
4. Irregular Periods:
Oligomenorrhea or irregular periods is a common problem faced by many women. Irregular periods cause hormonal imbalance, stress, fatigue and it is important to regulate the menstrual cycle. Sesame seeds are filled with lignans that can control excess hormone production. Dry roast seeds and grind it along with jaggery powder. Eat this mixture daily during the second half of your menstrual cycle.
A spoonful of sesame seeds is all you need if you are suffering from PCOS and weight gain. These seeds rich in calcium, zinc, magnesium and loaded with protein are also low on carbohydrates. As a result, these seeds don’t spike insulin levels, regulate hormone disorders. Toss it in a hot pan and eat it daily in the morning to get rid off PCOS.
6. Weight Loss:
Rich in protein, til seeds helps in increasing metabolic rate, control appetite, prevent intake of excessive calories thus helping to lose weight. Adding these seeds in your salad provides much needed fibre that aids in promoting gut health.
What Is Gingelly Oil
Call it sesame oil or gingelly oil, this oil extracted from the seeds is a storehouse of various healing properties.
While gingelly oil is in amber colour, sesame oil is pale yellowish in colour, depending on the process of extraction. Sesame oil is extracted from raw sesame seeds through cold pressed process while gingelly is made by using a little higher temperature, giving it a yellowish-orange colour. The other variety is available in dark brown colour, which is extracted from roasted seeds.
Sesame oil can be used at high smoke points for deep frying, gingelly oil serves best for stir frying while dark brown colour is used only for enhancing flavour on salads.
Be it amber, dark or pale yellow in colour- these oils improve skin and hair health, strengthen the bones, bring down the stress and are traditionally used for baby massages, thanks to rich amounts of vitamin E and vitamin K.
Uses of Gingelly Oil:
1. Hair Growth:
Nothing nourishes your dull hair instantly like gingelly oil. Regular application of this oil helps in retaining its natural colour and minimizes the hair loss. Gingelly oil also possesses anti-bacterial properties that can help eliminate the growth of bacteria and dandruff.
2. Skin Health:
Gingelly oil is a powerhouse of zinc, one of the main minerals that contributes to great skin health. A massage with gingelly oil every week increases elasticity, reduces oxidative stress, clears dark spots, slows down ageing by making skin soft and supple.
Traditional medicine recommends applying gingelly oil on fungal infections for instant relief and to safeguard the skin from harmful UV rays.
3. Anxiety Relief:
Gingelly oil is rich in tyrosine, that stimulates serotonin in the brain. A warm gingelly oil massage triggers positive thought, relaxes nervous system, releases happy hormones and can reduce stress.
4. Dental Health:
Sesame oil is your quick fix if you are suffering from dental pain. Swishing a spoonful of oil clears dental plaque and protects teeth from streptococcus mutants that cause bacterial growth. Rubbing sesame oil on teeth helps in retaining its natural colour.
5. Baby Growth:
Gingelly oil is traditionally used in Indian households for massaging the baby daily. Studies reveal that this oil not only helps in increasing blood circulation but also induces a timely sleep pattern in the new born.
Gingelly Oil Pulling:
Oil pulling is a traditional and popular practice, recommended by Ayurveda to avoid bacterial infections and also to maintain proper dental health. Gingelly oil or sesame oil is the number one choice for oil pulling as it kills bacteria, reduces inflammation, promotes oral health and is one of the ways to make your teeth whiter.
Studies reveal that regular oil pulling has shown to reduce the amounts of bacteria found in saliva and it in fact works on par with chlorhexidine – prescribed by dentists as a mouthwash.
1. Cures Bad Breath:
Halitosis or bad breath is a common oral condition often caused due to infection, poor oral hygiene, coated tongue etc. Sesame oil fights against the growing microorganisms and works wonders in maintaining oral health.
2. Prevents Cavities:
Cavities are caused due to poor dental hygiene, excessive intake of sugary items. Bacteria works on the food particles in the mouth forming stronger acid that destroys tooth enamel and decay. Regular oil pulling on an empty stomach prevents cavities and promotes oral health.
3. Controls Inflammation:
Inflammation is a chronic disorder that is caused due to various factors. Swishing oil in the mouth regularly works against streptococcus mutans that cause gingivitis, prevent formation of plaque and also avoid inflammation in other body parts.
How To Do Oil Pulling:
1 tsp of pure gingelly oil
Swish oil around in your mouth for 15 minutes, on empty stomach.
Do not swallow. Spit it out after 15 minutes.
Rinse your mouth thoroughly before eating or drinking.
Do it at least thrice in a week to enjoy its benefits.
Sesame Oil In Pregnancy:
Pregnant women are recommended to consume sesame oil in limited quantities during the third trimester as it strengthens the bones and aids in safe delivery.
Rich In Folic Acid:
Traditional wisdom recommends intake of sesame oil in small quantities for pregnant women, as it is a powerhouse of folic acid. Adding pure sesame oil to the daily diet aids in proper growth of the foetus and improves overall health.
However, it is also believed that sesame can also induce false contractions. Use it in little amounts to reap the benefits of natural folic acid.
A gentle massage around the tummy region with sesame oil avoids stretch marks and provides body with much needed moisturization. Massage twice daily for healthy and glowing skin during pregnancy.
Post Natal Care:
In many parts of India, new mothers are advised to take two tablespoons of sesame oil daily to overcome the fatigue, strengthen the bones and for lactation. A regular massage improves firmness, reduces stretch marks.
And if you thought, sesame seeds are boring little ones you are wrong. These nutty seeds add a lot of flavour to the dishes and are extensively in the preparation of both sweets and savouries.
Adding a spoonful of sesame seeds while making Indian crunchy murukku adds amazing taste. It is in fact a common ingredient in various cuisines Toss it in your salad, sprinkle on your noodles, add to your breads, buns and bake it into crackers, protein bars to appease your taste buds.
Here are super easy, traditional recipes made from sesame seeds.
Til Ladoo is a popular Indian recipe. Made with simple ingredients, it can be served as a daily snack.
200 grams white sesame seeds
150 grams jaggery powder
1 tsp cashew nuts- toasted and roughly chopped
1 tsp almonds- toasted and roughly chopped
Dry roast sesame seeds until brown in colour.
In a mixer, ground the sesame seeds.
In a bowl, mix sesame seeds powder with jaggery.
Add roasted cashew and almonds.
Grease your palm with little bit of ghee or oil and shape the mixture into balls.
These balls can be stored in a glass container for up to 5 days.
Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, protein, zinc, magnesium and other vital nutrients. Give a til ladoo daily to your child for better metabolic rate and immunity.
2. Sesame Rice:
Sesame rice is an ultimate comfort food. Known as Nuvvula Annam in Telugu and Ellu Saadam in Tamil, this rice is delicious and is often offered as a naivedyam during Dasara Navaratri.
1 cup cooked rice
¼ cup white sesame seeds
3 tbsp chana dal
2 tbsp urad dal
3 dry red chillis
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
Few curry leaves
Salt to taste
In a pan, dry roast sesame seeds, chana dal, urad dal and red chillis.
Grind it in to a coarse powder.
In a deep bottomed vessel, heat oil. Add tempering with mustard, cumin, curry leaves and hing.
Add the powder and sauté for a minute.
Add cooked rice, salt and stir well.
Keep the lid and let it simmer on low flame for 5 minutes.
Serve hot with papad.
This rice is not only comforting but also provides necessary nutrition. While the carbs in rice provide instant energy, adding various dals along with sesame helps in meeting your protein needs.
Sesame is from the seed family and can be an allergen for those already suffering from some food allergen.
Allergy to sesame seeds or oil can trigger swelling of the lip and eyelids, tightness of the throat, dizziness, congestion, nasal itching, hay fever, wheezing.
In severe cases, it may lead to collapse, anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. Studies reveal that more than 2/3rd of the people allergic to sesame also exhibit similar reactions to other foods.
Though sesame allergy prevalence is considered small compared to other foods, it is advised to stay away from processed foods and baked goods.