Open Sesame

  • Alka Gurha
  • India
  • Jun 01, 2013



Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is an annual herb of the Pedaliaceae family, which grows extensively in Asia - particularly in Burma, China and India. One of the first oil seeds known to humankind, sesame seeds are used for culinary purposes as well as in traditional medicines, because of their nutritive, preventive and curative properties. The history of sesame as medicine goes back to ancient Egyptian times, when it was listed as a favoured medicine.  

Sesame oil contains phyto-nutrients such as omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins and dietary fibre, with potent anti-cancer as well as health-promoting properties. Sesame is an extremely good source of copper, manganese, magnesium, tryptophan and calcium, and a good source of phosphorus, Vitamin B1, selenium, iron and zinc. Our body requires all these substances in varied amounts. The tiny, crunchy sesame seeds are a nutritional wonder


Heart Health  

Sesame oil has been shown to lower blood pressure in hypertensive adults. Sesame seeds are loaded with magnesium, which is said to lower blood pressure. Sesame seed oil can boost heart health by preventing atherosclerotic lesions. An antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound known as sesamol is thought to be one reason for the beneficial effects. The seeds are especially rich in a mono-unsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, which comprises up to 50% fatty acids. Oleic acid helps to lower LDL or “bad cholesterol”, and increases HDL or “good cholesterol” in the blood. Research suggests that the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in mono-unsaturated fats, helps prevent coronary artery disease and stroke.

Bone Health 

Sesame seeds are a great source of calcium – a mineral that is essential for bone health. One serving of sesame seeds provides approximately 35% of the daily requirement of calcium.


Respiratory Health 

Due to the presence of magnesium, sesame seeds are able to prevent asthma and other respiratory disorders, by preventing airway spasms. 


You can choose from whole, husked or air-dried sesame seeds. They may be black, brown, yellow or white coloured seeds, packed in air-sealed packs as well as in bulk bins. The husked seeds appear white. Sesame contains more of unsaturated fats, hence should be stored in airtight containers to avoid it turning rancid. At home, the sesame seeds should be stored in a cool dark place. 

Culinary Uses

Sesame seeds have a delicate nutty flavour. Their flavour indeed becomes more pronounced once they are gently roasted over a low flame for just a few minutes. Sesame seeds can be ground with olive or any other vegetable oil, to make a semi-solid, flavourful paste—tahini—which is then added to different cuisines. Tahini is one of the main ingredients in the famous Middle-Eastern dip, hummus.

Some ‘sensitive’ individuals can have Sesame Seed allergy.


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