5 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Sesame Seeds

5 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are tiny, oil-rich seeds that grow in pods on the Sesamum indicum plant.

Unhulled seeds have the outer, edible husk intact, while hulled seeds come without the husk.

The hull gives the seeds a golden-brown hue. Hulled seeds have an off-white color but turn brown when roasted.

Sesame seeds have many potential health benefits and have been used in folk medicine for thousands of years. They may protect against heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis (1Trusted Source).

However, you may need to eat significant amounts — a small handful per day — to gain health benefits.

Here are 15 health benefits of sesame seeds.

1. Good Source of Fiber
Three tablespoons (30 grams) of unhulled sesame seeds provide 3.5 grams of fiber, which is 12% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

Since the average fiber intake in the United States is only half of the RDI, eating sesame seeds regularly could help increase your fiber intake (4Trusted Source).

Fiber is well known for supporting digestive health. Additionally, growing evidence suggests that fiber may play a role in reducing your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (4Trusted Source).

SUMMARY
A 3-tablespoon (30-gram) serving of sesame seeds supplies 12% of the RDI for fiber, which is vital for your digestive health.
2. May Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Some studies suggest that regularly eating sesame seeds may help decrease high cholesterol and triglycerides — which are risk factors for heart disease (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

Sesame seeds consist of 15% saturated fat, 41% polyunsaturated fat, and 39% monounsaturated fat (3Trusted Source).

Research indicates that eating more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat relative to saturated fat may help lower your cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

What’s more, sesame seeds contain two types of plant compounds — lignans and phytosterols — that may also have cholesterol-lowering effects (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

When 38 people with high blood lipids ate 5 tablespoons (40 grams) of hulled sesame seeds daily for 2 months, they experienced a 10% reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol and an 8% reduction in triglycerides compared to the placebo group (13Trusted Source).

SUMMARY
Sesame seeds may help reduce heart disease risk factors, including elevated triglyceride and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

3. Nutritious Source of Plant Protein
Sesame seeds supply 5 grams of protein per 3-tablespoon (30-gram) serving (3Trusted Source).

To maximize protein availability, opt for hulled, roasted sesame seeds. The hulling and roasting processes reduce oxalates and phytates — compounds that hamper your digestion and absorption of protein (14, 15, 16).

Protein is essential for your health, as it helps build everything from muscles to hormones.

Notably, sesame seeds are low in lysine, an essential amino acid more abundant in animal products. However, vegans and vegetarians can compensate by consuming high-lysine plant proteins — particularly legumes, such as kidney beans and chickpeas (14, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

On the other hand, sesame seeds are high in methionine and cysteine, two amino acids that legumes don’t provide in large amounts (14, 18Trusted Source).

SUMMARY
Sesame seeds — particularly hulled ones — are a good source of protein, which is a necessary building block for your body.
4. May Help Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke (19Trusted Source).

Sesame seeds are high in magnesium, which may help lower blood pressure (20Trusted Source).

Additionally, lignans, vitamin E, and other antioxidants in sesame seeds may help prevent plaque buildup in your arteries, potentially maintaining healthy blood pressure (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

In one study, people with high blood pressure consumed 2.5 grams of powdered, black sesame seeds — a less common variety — in capsule form every day.

At the end of one month, they experienced a 6% decrease in systolic blood pressure — the top number of a blood pressure reading — compared to the placebo group (23Trusted Source).

SUMMARY
Sesame seeds are high in magnesium, which may help lower blood pressure. Additionally, their antioxidants may help prevent plaque buildup.

5. May Support Healthy Bones
Sesame seeds — both unhulled and hulled — are rich in several nutrients that boost bone health, though the calcium is mainly in the hull (3Trusted Source).

Three tablespoons (30 grams) of sesame seeds boast (3Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source):

Unhulled Hulled
Calcium 22% of the RDI 1% of the RDI
Magnesium 25% of the RDI 25% of the RDI
Manganese 32% of the RDI 19% of the RDI
Zinc 21% of the RDI 18% of the RDI
However, sesame seeds contain natural compounds called oxalates and phytates, antinutrients that reduce the absorption of these minerals (27Trusted Source).

To limit these compounds’ impact, try soaking, roasting, or sprouting the seeds (15, 28Trusted Source).

One study found that sprouting reduced phytate and oxalate concentration by about 50% in both hulled and unhulled sesame seeds (15).

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