What happens to your body when you eat sesame oil, according to a dietitian

Strolling down the oil aisle at the grocery store, you may have come across sesame oil alongside olive oil and other varieties of vegetable oil. Have you ever wondered if you should pick up a bottle? Is it a healthy oil? Read on to find out why this Asian and Middle Eastern staple deserves a place in your kitchen pantry.

What is sesame oil?

Sesame oil is an edible cooking oil extracted from sesame seeds. It is a common cooking oil in Asian and Middle Eastern kitchens. The sesame plant is mainly grown in Sudan, India, Myanmar and Tanzania. In the United States, southern states with warmer climates, such as Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Florida, are the nation’s top sesame producers.

Like other cooking oils such as canola and sunflower, sesame oil is extracted from raw, unroasted seeds. It is a stable oil with a smoke point of 410F (210C) that is best used as an all-purpose cooking oil that also lends itself well to high-heat cooking such as frying and roasting .

Unroasted cold-pressed (virgin) or refined sesame oil has a mild, neutral flavor. You’ll also find roasted sesame oil varieties in the grocery aisle. Roasted sesame oil is made in the same way as its unroasted cousin, except that the seeds will be toasted or toasted before extraction. It has a thicker consistency, and roasting the seeds amplifies the color, flavor and aroma of the oil. The darker the roast, the darker the color of the oil and the more intense the nutty, earthy flavor.

Toasted or toasted sesame oil has a lower smoke point, can burn and become bitter with prolonged heating. As such, it is best suited to low to medium heat cooking, such as stewing, or used as a seasoning in the final stages of cooking. While you can use unroasted sesame oil as an ingredient in marinades, sauces, and salad dressings, roasted sesame oil adds a layer of flavor to recipes.

Health benefits of sesame oil

It can improve cholesterol levels

Sesame oil is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help improve good HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol levels. Sesame oil also contains phytosterols, plant compounds with antioxidant and heart-healthy properties. Specifically, sesamol is a type of phytosterol found in sesame seeds and oils that may help protect the heart by improving cholesterol.

It can improve your blood pressure

Sesame seeds and sesame oil contain sesamin, a type of lignan (plant compound) with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation. A systematic review concluded that, compared to a control group, consuming sesame regularly is associated with lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as body weight and waist circumference, which may also help reduce blood pressure

It can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer

The lignans in sesame seeds may have potentially protective properties against cancer. The research is still very preliminary, but it may be that these sesame lignans can help quell inflammation and oxidative stress, protecting against cell damage that can lead to cancer.

nutritional data

One tablespoon of sesame oil provides:

  • Calories: 120
  • Total Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Dietary fiber: 0 g
  • Total sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Total Fat: 14 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Monounsaturated fats: 5g
  • Polyunsaturated fats: 6 g

Potential risks

Sesame is one of the nine most common allergens in the United States and affects 1.1 million American adults and children. People allergic to sesame should avoid sesame oil and any product containing sesame. Now you can easily identify if a food product contains sesame, as the Food and Drug Administration requires that food products and supplements contain sesame on the package. You can also be sure that our sesame-free recipes do not have any hidden sources of sesame.

How to add sesame oil to your diet

Sesame oil offers a smooth, nutty, earthy flavor and enhances the flavor profile of a variety of Asian and Oriental-inspired dishes.

Unroasted sesame oil (neutral).

Best for savory dishes with cooking methods such as stir-frying, stir-frying, or baking

Toasted sesame oil

Using a small amount of toasted sesame oil amplifies the flavor and aroma of dishes. Although suitable for low to medium heat cooking, toasted sesame oil is best used to add a finishing touch to the final stages of cooking. Some of our favorite recipes using toasted sesame oil include:

Toasted sesame oil is also a perfect ingredient for marinades, sauces, dressings and vinaigrettes like our Hoisin-Ssam Dressing and Sesame-Tamari Vinaigrette.

The bottom line

Sesame oil is a versatile cooking oil that deserves a place in your pantry. Unroasted sesame oil offers a mild taste best used in everyday cooking, while roasted sesame oil adds a nutty dimension that enhances the flavor and aroma of recipes. Depending on what and how you use sesame oil, you may want to choose one over the other or have both in your kitchen.

Frequently asked questions

  • Is sesame oil better than olive oil?

    Both sesame oil and olive oil have healthy fats but in varying amounts, and both oils can be part of a balanced diet. Sesame oil is best for dishes inspired by Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, while olive oil suits Mediterranean dishes.

  • What are the disadvantages of sesame oil?

    Sesame oil is not suitable for people with sesame allergy or sensitivity. People with sesame allergies or sensitivities should use other plant-based cooking oils. Our sesame-free recipes also offer inspiration for making delicious dishes without allergens.

  • Which cooking oil is the healthiest?

    All plant-based cooking oils can be part of your balanced diet, as each type of oil offers different nutritional attributes. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 27 grams of oils per day, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. This amount includes oils from vegetable oils and those from foods such as nuts and seafood.

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