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Black Sesame seeds: advantages and more

by Pragati Singh

Black sesame seeds are tiny, flax seeds with oily flavours, which are grown over thousands of years on the fruit pods of the Sesamum Indium plant. Sesame seeds are produced in a range of colours, including black, brown, tan, grey, gold and white. Black sesame seeds are mostly manufactured in Asia, but are gaining worldwide prominence fast. The fact that black sesame seeds are healthier for your health could result in this increase in popularity, but you might ask if this assertion is right. This paper describes the nutritional content of black sesame seeds and how these seeds might contribute to good health.

Black sesame seed nutrition

Black sesame seeds are rich in a number of nutrients. Just 2 tablespoons (14 grams) of black sesame seeds contain:

  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Calcium: 18% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Magnesium: 16% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 11% of the DV
  • Copper: 83% of the DV
  • Manganese: 22% of the DV
  • Iron: 15% of the DV
  • Zinc: 9% of the DV
  • Saturated Fat: 1 gram
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 3 grams
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 4 grams

Black sesame seeds are a significant source of macrominerals and trace minerals in particular. Your body needs just modest amounts of trace minerals whereas vast quantities of macrominerals are necessary.

Increased consumption of macrominerals such as calcium and magnesium is linked to enhanced risk factors for heart disease, especially high blood pressure.

Some of the trace elements in black sesame seeds – iron, copper and manganese in particular – are vital for controlling your metabolism, your cell operation, and your immune system, and the flow of oxygen throughout your body.

Because more than half of a sesame seed is composed of oil, sesame seeds are also a good source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

The most recent scientific evidence suggests that replacing foods high in saturated fats with foods high in unsaturated fats may lower your risk of heart disease.

Health benefits of sesame seeds

Black sesame seeds are rich in nutrients that support optimal health, and regularly eating them may have specific benefits.

One reason why black sesame seeds could be so beneficial to health is due to the seeds’ effects on oxidative stress, particularly for people who are living with a chronic disease.

In one 8-week mouse study, consuming 0.45–0.9 mL of a black sesame seed extract per pound (1–2 mL per kg) of body weight daily improved insulin resistance, treated oxidative stress in the liver, and appeared to protect against obesity.

Furthermore, some human research has shown that black sesame seeds may help reduce oxidative stress.

A study in 30 people found that taking 2.5 grams of black sesame seed capsules per day for 4 weeks significantly decreased levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), one of the most commonly used biomarkers of oxidative stress.

Yet, human research is limited at this time, and more studies are needed.

Furthermore, because some studies used concentrated sesame seed extract, the results may not be the same for whole black sesame seeds. Thus, more randomized controlled studies in humans are needed.

Rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that play an important role in preventing or slowing different types of cell damage in your body. One type of cellular damage that antioxidants are believed to protect against is oxidative stress. Long-term oxidative stress may contribute to the development of many chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Some foods are better sources of antioxidants than others. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains are some of the best sources. All sesame seeds contain antioxidants and healthy plant chemicals, but black sesame seeds appear to be a particularly rich source. It also appears that sprouted black sesame seeds could have even higher amounts of some antioxidants than seeds that have not yet sprouted.

May improve blood pressure

A small study in 30 adults found that taking a capsule containing 2.5 grams of black sesame seed meal daily for 4 weeks significantly decreased systolic blood pressure (the top number of a reading), while a placebo group did not experience changes.

Moreover, a systematic review of research on sesame seeds’ effects on blood pressure found that five out of seven clinical studies observed significant improvements in blood pressure.

Still, the researchers noted that studies with stronger methodology were needed to confirm these initial findings.

May have anticancer properties

Over the past few years, sesame seeds have been investigated for their anticancer properties.

Two of the compounds in black sesame seeds — sesamol and sesamin — are believed to contribute to their anticancer properties.

Sesamol has demonstrated its anticancer properties in multiple animal and test-tube studies.

These studies have observed the compound’s ability to combat oxidative stress and regulate various stages of cell lifecycle and signaling pathways — each of which plays a role in the development of cancer.

Sesamin plays a similar role in cancer prevention. The compound also appears to promote the destruction of cancer cells through apoptosis (programmed cellular death) and autophagy (the removal of damaged cells).

Human studies, as well as studies conducted with whole black sesame seeds rather than sesame seed concentrates, are still lacking. Therefore, it’s currently unclear how eating black sesame seeds affects cancer risk.

May promote healthy hair and skin

Sesame seed oils are often included in hair and skin products, such as soap, shampoo, and moisturizer. Therefore, you may wonder whether eating black sesame seeds is also good for hair and skin health.

While few studies have directly examined how eating black sesame seeds affects hair and skin, the seeds contain many nutrients known to encourage healthy hair and skin.

Some of these include:

  • iron
  • zinc
  • fatty acids
  • antioxidants

Other studies have investigated the topical application of sesame oil.

For example, a 2011 study found that sesame oil could block up to 30% of harmful ultraviolet (UV) light rays. UV light not only causes sunburns but also can lead to wrinkles, early aging of the skin, and even cancer.

Another more recent study in 40 people being treated in the emergency room for trauma to their extremities found that massaging the injured extremities with sesame seed oil significantly reduced pain.

However, neither of these studies used oil made from black sesame seeds specifically.

How to use black sesame seeds

Black sesame seeds can be purchased online or at most grocery stores.

The seeds are incredibly versatile when it comes to their culinary uses. They can easily be sprinkled onto salads, vegetables, and noodle and rice dishes. The seeds can even be used in baked goods or as a crunchy coating for fish.

Black sesame seeds can easily be processed into a milk or tahini paste, and black sesame seed oil can be used just as any other oil would be.

Black sesame seed extract can also be purchased as an oil or supplement in capsule form. There are currently no recommendations regarding how much black sesame seed extract to take, so it’s best to check with your healthcare provider before taking these supplements.

Although black sesame seeds are generally considered safe for most people, some may experience an allergic reaction. Therefore, it’s best to use caution if it’s your first time cooking with black sesame seeds.

The bottom line

Black sesame is a nutrient-rich oilseed that has been cultivated from the Sesamum indicum plant for thousands of years.

Some evidence supports the use of black sesame seeds to improve blood pressure and decrease oxidation in the body.

However, more research is needed to better understand the quantity and form of black sesame that’s needed to generate these effects.

Still, black sesame seeds are safe for most people without sesame allergies, and they make a delicious addition to many meals.

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