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Sesame seeds are among the most ancient foods in the world. In fact, sesame plants are the earliest known plant species to be produced mostly for their seeds (pods) and oils instead of for their leaves, fruit or vegetables. Highly appreciated in Asian, African and Mediterranean cultures, sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) have been used for centuries to flavor foods as well as to provide essential fats and improve skin health.
Sesame has among the highest oil contents of any seed along with a rich, nutty flavor. These flexible seeds have long been used by different civilizations around the world, but many people are unaware of their healthy qualities. Evidence demonstrates the benefits of these very small seeds in helping manage common health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, which gives us a lot of reasons to incorporate them into our everyday diet.
Sesame seeds come out of a flowering plant from the genus Sesamum. Sesame seed pods burst open when they reach full maturity. The actual seeds of the sesame plant are utilized to extract the valuable oils. Sesame seeds contain up to 55 percent oil and 20 percent protein, making them a rich supply of both essential fatty acids and certain amino acids. The seeds contain approximately 50 percent to 60 percent of a fatty oil that’s characterized by two positive members of the lignan family: sesamin and sesamolin. Sesame oil also contains two additional phenolic compounds, sesamol and sesaminol, that are formed through the refining procedure. Oil derived from polyunsaturated is high in linoleic and oleic acids, the vast majority of that are gamma-tocopherol, in addition to other isomers of vitamin. Sesame proteins (amino acids) include lysine, tryptophan and methionine.
One tablespoon of sesame seeds contains approximately:
Sesame seeds rank highest in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols from almost all seeds, nuts, legumes and grains. Phytosterols are plant sterols structurally similar to cholesterol that act in the intestine to reduce cholesterol absorption. Phytosterols displace cholesterol inside the gastrointestinal tract, reducing the heart of accessible absorbable cholesterol. Some research has revealed that among 27 distinct nuts and seeds tested, sesame seeds have come out on top (along with wheat germ) as having the highest phytosterol content of them all. They feature approximately 400 grams of phytosterols with each 200 g of seeds. The phytosterol they supply is called beta-sitosterol, which can be tied to improved prostate health and arterial function.
Research shows that lignans help improve lipid profiles and may normalize cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Lignans help naturally lower cholesterol in a couple of ways, they can lower both serum liver and blood cholesterol. Researchers occasionally refer to sesame seed phytochemicals as “hypocholesterolemic agents” for this particular reason. Fifty grams of sesame seed powder taken daily for more than five weeks by healthy adults has revealed favorable effects on total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, LDL-to-HDL cholesterol ratios and antioxidant status.
In an early study, hypercholesterolemic subjects treated with 32 mg/day of sesamin diminished their levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) following eight weeks, compared to control subjects from whom these levels remained unchanged. In another study, 21 subjects with hypercholesterolemia showed reductions in total cholesterol and LDL by 6.4 percent and 9.5 percent respectively, following the consumption of 40 gram of sesame seeds for four weeks. The decrease in cholesterol vanished, however, once the individuals resumed their normal diet for over four weeks. Sesame ingestion also exerts an antioxidant impact by multiplying the lag phase of LDL oxidation (the stage where oxidation proceeds very slowly).
Recent studies have confirmed these findings. Similar persistent reductions in total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, as well as the LDL:HDL ratio are detected when sesame extracts were given to people with elevated blood pressure and also to postmenopausal women. What’s more, in the analysis of hypertensive patients, which contrasted the cholesterol-lowering capability of sesame oil with sunflower and groundnut oils, sesame oil revealed superior antioxidant activity and better protection against lipid peroxidation compared to comparators.
Lipid peroxidation is a harmful free radical-generating procedure which frequently precedes the build up of plaque from the arteries (atherosclerosis). Sesame oil has just been shown to directly inhibit atherosclerosis lesion production, while beneficially altering the lipid profile. It’s believed that one potential mechanism whereby sesame lignans exert their beneficial effects may be by working synergistically with vitamin E in the body to improve blood and tissue levels of this biologically significant antioxidant.
Sesame oil is thought to be a powerful antihypertensive as it helps stabilize blood pressure levels. One 2006 study published in The Yale Journal of Biological Medicine investigated the effects of hypertensive adults supplementing with sesame oil daily for 45 days and found that sesame could possibly be a great way to reduce blood pressure. After tracking various health markers of 32 hypertensive patients aged 35 to 60 years that was supplied sesame oil (Idhayam gingelly oil) to utilize it as the only edible oil for 45 days, the investigators discovered that sesame oil helped considerably lower high blood pressure, reduce lipid peroxidation and boost antioxidant status in the majority of individuals.
A recent human study to the effects of various edible oils in hypertensive patients being treated with nifedipine, an anti inflammatory therapy, revealed that sesame oil offered better protection, more than blood pressure, lipid profiles, and lipid peroxidation than either sunflower or groundnut oils. Sesame oil also positively improved both enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants as well as all the other oils.
Other research has shown that the sesame lignans also have a beneficial impact on nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator with anti-atherosclerotic and antithrombotic properties. Dilation of blood vessels makes it a lot easier for blood to flow through, thus lowering the pressure inside the vessels. In one study, sesamol increased the release of nitric oxide in umbilical vein endothelial cells, while another study found that sesamin metabolites enhanced vasorelaxation too. The authors concluded that sesamin’s antihypertensive effects were directly associated with this vessel relaxation.
Sesame was shown to reduce blood pressure at several small randomized, placebo controlled human research within 30 to 60 days. Sesame lowers BP independently or together with nifedipine diuretics and beta blockers. In several 13 mild hypertensive subjects, 60 mg of sesamin for 4 weeks lowered SBP 3.5 mmHg (de < 0.044) and DBP 1.9 mmHg (p < 0.045). Black sesame meal at 2.52 g/d more than 4 weeks in 15 subjects decreased SBP from 8.3 mmHg (p < 0.05) but there was a non-significant decrease in DBP of 4.2 mmHg. Sesame oil in 35 g/d significantly lowered central blood pressure within 1 hour and also claimed blood pressure reduction chronically in 30 hypertensive areas, reduced heart rate, reduced arterial stiffness, decreased augmentation index and pulse wave velocity, decreased HSCRP, improved NO, diminished endothelin-Iand improved antioxidant ability.
In addition sesame lowers serum sugar, HgbAIC and LDL-C, raises HDL, reduces oxidative stress markers and in-creases glutathione, SOD, GPx, CAT, vitamins C, E and A. The active ingredients are organic ACEI’s such as sesamin, sesamolin, sesaminol glucosides, furou-furan lignans which also suppressors of NF-κB. Each of these effects lower inflammation and oxidative stress, improve oxidative defense and reduce blood pressure.
Many clinical research and evidence-based findings have demonstrated the benefits of sesame oil for cardiovascular disease, where the consumption of sesame can protect overall heart health as well as lower cholesterol and boost blood pressure levels. Although these results have been displayed in several research studies, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional to discuss your options. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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Injury, Trauma & Spinal Rehabilitation Specialist