Healthy, tasty and versatile: sesame oil is considered a real all-rounder. But how healthy is the oil really, and what can it be used for? In the following, you will learn all about sesame oil, from the effects and applications of the oil to tips on what to look out for when buying it.
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What sesame oil actually is
Sesame oil is obtained from the seeds of the sesame plant. Together with linseed oil, sesame oil is one of the oldest edible oils in the world. The traditional oil is particularly popular in the Far East and has been used in China, Japan and India for thousands of years. It is not only used in the kitchen, but also in beauty care. Especially in India, it is also used as a medicine for external application within the framework of traditional Indian Ayurveda medicine, a proven form of naturopathy.
These types of sesame oil are available
Sesame oil is mainly available in two varieties: Light and dark. The light, golden yellow oil is pressed from untreated, natural sesame seeds. It has a very mild taste, is largely odorless and can be used in many ways in the kitchen as well as in beauty care.
In contrast, dark sesame oil is produced from processed sesame seeds. These were cleaned, watered and dried again, then roasted and pressed. The roasting process gives the oil its dark color and strong, characteristic aroma. It is mainly used in cooking and garnishing to round off the taste of food and give it a “typically Asian” aroma.
Ingredients: Sesame oil is so healthy
For thousands of years, sesame oil has been used not only in the kitchen but also in personal hygiene and for medicinal purposes. Until today it is still considered one of the healthiest vegetable oils of all. In the following, you will learn all about the ingredients that make sesame oil so healthy and their effects.
Vitamin E is also known as a “cell protection” vitamin and, together with vitamin C, vitamin A, and the mineral zinc, play an extremely important role in your immune system. It is responsible for the defense of harmful molecules, so-called “free radicals”, which can attack your cells and trigger dangerous mutations. But vitamin E protects and guards your cells not only from the inside but also from the outside: the nutrient has an anti-inflammatory effect. It protects your skin barrier, prevents pathogens from penetrating your skin cells and helps them to regenerate from injuries. Inside, too, vitamin E fights inflammation and helps your body get rid of annoying infections.
Just like vitamin E, vitamin A also has a decisive influence on the skin. This is because it is converted into vitamin A acid, also called tretinoin, within your skin cells. This acid causes the uppermost skin layer to dissolve and new skin cells to be formed. So it has a peeling effect from the inside out, removes dead or overaged skin particles and ensures that young, firm skin cells follow.
Since vitamin A together with vitamin E is active in the fight against cell-damaging molecules, it protects your cells from premature aging and provides them with additional moisture. The vitamin not only renews your skin, but it also keeps the young skin cells fresh and healthy. It also supports your immune system in its fight against pathogens, pollutants and harmful molecules such as free radicals. It protects and strengthens your cells not only from the outside but also from the inside.
Unsaturated fatty acids
Fat has a bad reputation nowadays: it is said to make you sick, fat and even unhappy. Fat is not a harmful substance for the human body, on the contrary: it is one of the macronutrients, along with proteins and carbohydrates, on which your body depends to function. Fat only becomes unhealthy when we consume too much of it. Some types of fat are even very healthy for your body and not only maintain essential functions, but even strengthen and protect it.
Effect of unsaturated fatty acids
The so-called unsaturated fatty acids belong to the particularly healthy types of fat. These enjoy a particularly good reputation among fatty organic compounds. This is because unsaturated fatty acids are in turn composed of substances that have a very beneficial effect on your body. These include linoleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid from the omega-6 fatty acid group. These are known to lower cholesterol levels, strengthen your veins and arteries, support heart function and effectively prevent dangerous cardiovascular diseases.
Unsaturated fatty acids and sesame oil
So the more unsaturated fatty acids an oil or fat contains, the better it is for your health. Sesame oil consists of more than 80 percent of unsaturated fatty acids. Together with linseed oil and black cumin, sesame oil is thus characterized by an extremely high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids. This means that the oil helps to protect your cardiovascular system with every meal you eat.
Another essential group of substances that make sesame oil so healthy is the so-called antioxidants. Chemically speaking, antioxidants are molecules that prevent a certain type of biochemical reaction, namely oxidation. They, therefore, act against harmful compounds, the free radicals that attack your cells and expose them to oxidative stress, which causes the cells to change adversely. The aforementioned “cell protection” vitamin E is, therefore, one of the antioxidants. But sesame oil contains even more antioxidant molecules that fight off free radicals: sesamol and sesamolin. Because of the large number of antioxidants, it contains, sesame oil effectively helps to protect your cells and helps you to prevent diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Another precious ingredient of sesame oil is lecithin. This is a basic building block for the human body. Because lecithin is a component of our cells, more precisely: the cell membrane. So your body needs it to form new cells.
But lecithin also has other important effects in your body, because it influences your nerve function. If your organism is sufficiently supplied with lecithin, there is a high probability that your mental resilience and performance will increase. In addition, lecithin in combination with the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid, which is also present in sesame oil, lowers the cholesterol level and protects you from diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, which are still among the most frequent causes of death in Germany.
Effects of sesame oil
Due to the numerous, precious ingredients of sesame oil, it is clear why the oil is so popular in the Asian region. In the following, you will learn all about the most important effects of the “liquid gold”.
Sesame oil is traditionally used as a natural, effective moisturizer. The oil develops its caring effect due to the vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids it contains. These provide your skin cells with moisture, protect and strengthen them, fend off pathogens and pollutants and help them to fight infections. Thus the discreetly scented oil is effective for demanding, stressed and sensitive skin. Not only can you use it all over your body, gentle care is also suitable for dry facial skin, scaly scalp or brittle hair.
This makes sesame oil an interesting alternative for you if you are often sensitive to industrial cosmetic products for skincare. Moreover, the oil not only cares for the skin from the outside but also from the inside: Once you put sesame oil on your diet, the healthy oil also works on the inside. The vitamins E and A contained in sesame oil contribute to your nutrient supply and help your body to fight internal inflammation, which may affect the skin.
Strengthening for the immune system
Sesame oil owes its nourishing and soothing effect above all to its richness of nutrients. Vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants help your body to stay healthy and fit. While unsaturated fatty acids help build new cells and tissue, antioxidants fight free radicals that can attack your cells and trigger adverse changes. They, therefore, form an extremely important part of your immune system. In general, the oil strengthens your immune system because the vitamins A and E contained in the oil have an anti-inflammatory effect and are directly involved in the defense against pathogens, harmful substances, and harmful substances.
Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
Together with linseed oil and black cumin oil, sesame oil is one of those vegetable oils which are characterized by an extremely high content of unsaturated fatty acids. These substances represent the highest quality type of fat there is. They not only fulfill essential functions in your body, for example in building new cells but also supply it with valuable ingredients. These include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, for example. These consist of substances that have been proven to lower the cholesterol level in your blood.
Cholesterol is actually nothing bad, your body even makes it itself. However, if we take in a lot of cholesterol through food in addition to our own, especially through a diet rich in animal products, an excess of cholesterol is created in the body. The excess cholesterol is deposited in the bloodstream and arteries, where it leads to blockages and calcification. These, in turn, promote cardiovascular disease, which in the worst case can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
The unsaturated fatty acids in sesame oil prevent this risk, and their effect is even enhanced by the active ingredient lecithin. In this way, sesame oil in your diet helps to strengthen your blood vessels and protect your heart.
Applications of sesame oil
Sesame oil has been especially common in the Far East for thousands of years. The versatility of this precious oil is particularly positive.
Moisturizing care for skin & hair
Due to its ingredients, sesame oil is not only suitable in the kitchen for cooking, baking, frying, and garnishing. Especially the light, but cold-pressed oil is also excellent for external use. Especially for dry, stressed and sensitive skin, the oil has a soothing, calming and moisturizing effect. This is mainly due to the contained “cell protection vitamin” E, which protects, strengthens and moisturizes your cells so that they remain firm and elastic. But also the unsaturated fatty acids, especially the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid, have a protective and calming effect on stressed skin cells.
Due to its gentle, natural effect and its discreet scent, the oil is suitable for use on the whole body, but also on the face, scalp, and hair. Dry scalp is soothed and relieved by a massage with light sesame oil, while brittle, brittle hair is strengthened. To make use of the caring power of the oil, you should gently massage it into the still moist skin after showering.
Application of sesame oil for moisturizing
For facial use, you can also rub a few drops of oil between your clean palms and then dab on your face. If you suffer from dry scalp and dandruff, you should massage the oil with your fingertips on the damp scalp and leave it on for at least two hours, ideally overnight, before rinsing it out. If your hair is dry and brittle, you can apply sesame oil drop by drop to the palms of your hands and distribute gently in towel-dried lengths. The hair should then dry naturally.
Oil extraction for healthy teeth
Sesame oil is one of the oils that are ideal for an oil extraction cure. Oil extraction is a measure to improve oral hygiene, which originates from traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine. For a certain period of time – usually 10, a maximum of 20 minutes – vegetable oil is rolled around in the mouth and pulled between the teeth. You make similar movements with your mouth as if you were waving wine on your tongue or sucking in your cheeks. The purpose of the oil is to remove plaque and bacteria from the mucous membranes, tongue, gums, and teeth.
It is particularly useful to draw the oil in the morning after getting up before brushing your teeth for the first time. When you have pulled the oil through your teeth for a while, spit it out – you should not swallow the oil under any circumstances – and then brush your teeth. You should repeat this process daily. Many people have reported very positive effects of oil extraction, from reducing bad breath to relieving gum problems, tooth decay, and teeth whitening. Sesame oil is preferred as an oil extraction fat mainly because of its taste, its anti-inflammatory properties, and its consistency.
Relaxing massage with sesame oil?
The versatile sesame oil is not only suitable for beauty care. As a massage oil, it offers pleasure and relaxation for body and soul. The unsaturated fatty acids and vitamins contained in the oil care for your skin gently and lastingly, while your muscles are pampered and relaxed during the massage. You can use pure light sesame oil for the massage or mix it with other nourishing oils such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. Alternatively, you can use it as a “carrier” for essential oil by mixing sesame oil with a few drops of essential oil of your choice. By choosing the appropriate essential oil, you can support the purpose of the massage, depending on whether it is to invigorate, relax or strengthen.
Using Sesame oil in the kitchen
The oil of the sesame plant can be used to care for skin and hair, as a massage oil and even for medicinal purposes when cleaning teeth. Last but not least, vegetable oil can also be used in the kitchen in many different ways. Especially the light sesame oil is healthy and heat-stable so that it can be used for daily use in cooking, frying, and baking. Due to the fatty acids, it contains, it also has a longer shelf life than most other oils when stored in a darker and cooler place.
Due to its characteristic aroma, dark sesame oil is less suitable as a permanent kitchen aid. Instead, you can use it specifically to round off the taste of food. It is therefore mainly used for seasoning and garnishing.
If you would like to try this versatile vegetable oil for yourself, you have several purchase options. Sesame oil is available both online and in retail stores. You can find a particularly wide range in Asian supermarkets, but you may also be successful in well-stocked grocery stores, health food stores, and organic food stores.
Buy dark sesame oil
Which sesame oil is right for you depends on what you want to use it for. If you like Asian cooking and especially want to take advantage of the characteristic nutty taste of the oil, you should definitely use dark, toasted sesame oil. Due to its distinct aroma, however, this is mainly suitable for garnishing and refining, less for cooking and frying. In addition, many nutrients are lost when sesame seeds are roasted.
Buy light sesame oil
If your main concern is the health effects of sesame oil, both inside and out, you should prefer the light version. Due to its mild, unobtrusive taste, it is suitable for frying, cooking, and baking as well as for cosmetic and even medical use, for example in the form of oil extraction.
Paying attention to quality
Especially if you want to take advantage of the versatile effects of sesame oil, you should pay attention to the quality when buying the oil. This is not so easy, because the offer is large and the price range is wide. 500 milliliters of sesame oil are available in relevant online shops for between five and fifteen euros. However, it is worth spending a little more money and paying attention to the predicates “native” and “cold-pressed” when buying.
Native means that the oil has not been processed more than necessary, cold-pressed means that the seeds have not been heated during pressing and therefore no nutrients have been lost from the oil. This is particularly important if you are concerned about the health effects of the oil.
Organic quality is worth it
Ideally, you should not only buy sesame oil of the highest possible quality but also pay attention to the production conditions if possible. Organic products are produced according to ecological standards without exploiting people or natural resources, so they have a much better environmental balance than offers without the organic seal. They are also usually somewhat more expensive than non-organic products. But given the yield of the oil and its many uses, the price is worth it. Because with the organic label you not only ensure the quality and thus the best possible effect for yourself, you also do something good for the environment: a double profit.