Popular in Asian cuisine, sesame oil is a product of pressed plain or toasted sesame seeds. Depending on the specific menu, cooks can use plain oil as a neutral cooking agent or toasted varieties to add flavor to soups, sauces, and other dishes. While most people do not look at sesame oil as more than a cooking ingredient, research suggests there are many benefits to using it for health.
1. Antioxidant-Rich With Anti-inflammatory Properties
Antioxidants combat free radicals, resulting in the reduction of cell damage. Healthcare professionals encourage people to include antioxidant-rich foods in their diets because of their ability to combat disease risks and premature aging.
Sesame oil contains two powerful antioxidants: sesamol and sesaminol. The antioxidants, unique to sesame seeds and their oil, help reduce inflammation. Several test-tube studies show that sesame oil reduced nitric oxide production and other inflammatory markers.
It is well-documented that unsaturated fats are good for heart health. With a composition of 82% unsaturated fatty acids, including omega-6 fatty acids, sesame oil is heart-healthy.
Polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-6 fatty acids, are essential to your diet and heart disease prevention. Research suggests sesame oil can slow plaque development and lower bad cholesterol.
3. Blood Sugar Regulator
Research supports the idea that sesame oil can support the regulation of blood sugar. A 42-day study of rats found diabetic rats consuming a 6% sesame oil diet showed significant blood sugar reductions compared to those not consuming the oil. Another study of 46 adults with type 2 diabetes found that after taking sesame oil for 90 days, their HbA1c was significantly reduced, showing long-term blood sugar control.
4. Arthritis Treatment
There are also studies suggesting sesame oil as a possible arthritis treatment. A 28-day rodent study found that rats, given 0.5 ml of oil per pound per day, experienced a reduction in symptoms and oxidative stress. Most, if not all, current research into sesame oil as an arthritis treatment or therapy references animal studies. Human studies are necessary for further proof of concept.
5. Topical Wound Treatment
The topical application of specific sesame oil products might speed up wound and burn healing processes. Ozonated sesame oil — sesame oil with ozone gas — shows promise in animal studies. One study linked the oil to increased collagen production, the structural protein essential to wound healing. As with other sesame oil benefits, wound recovery requires further testing, specifically human research.
6. Sleep, Pain Relief, and Healthy Hair Treatment
Sleep, pain relief, and improved hair health are other benefits often touted with sesame oil. While studies exist to support these claims, most are not enough to provide conclusive evidence on the effects. Each proposed benefit is possible, but more research with larger participant pools and greater variable control is necessary for confident findings.
Sesame oil is a healthy cooking oil. With its unsaturated fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory attributes, this flavorful oil should be a welcome addition to your pantry and meal prep. However, before adding it to your diet, talk to your doctor about potential conflicts with medications or health conditions.