You may not give much thought to sesame seeds, but these tiny powerhouse seeds are packing a big nutritional punch. Sesame seeds are a good source of copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and fiber. They also contain two unique compounds—sesamin and sesamolin—that have been shown to have cholesterol-lowering and antioxidant effects. Let's take a closer look at some of the health benefits of sesame seeds.
The cholesterol-lowering effect of sesame seeds has been well-documented in animal studies. One study showed that rats who were fed a diet rich in sesame seeds had lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol than rats who were not fed sesame seeds. The antioxidants in sesame seeds may also help reduce oxidative stress, which is a major contributing factor to heart disease.
Sesame seeds are rich in minerals like calcium, copper, and magnesium, all of which are essential for bone health. One animal study showed that rats fed a diet supplemented with sesame seed powder had improved bone mineral density and strength compared to rats who were not fed sesame seed powder. Another animal study found that rabbits fed a diet supplemented with sesamin—a compound found in sesame seeds—had improved bone mineral density compared to rabbits who were not fed sesamin.
Sesamin—the aforementioned compound found in sesame seeds—has been shown to have cancer-preventative effects in animal studies. One study showed that rats who were given sesamin had reduced rates of colon cancer compared to rats who were not given sesamin. Another study found that mice who were given sesamin had reduced rates of stomach cancer compared to mice who were not given sesamin. While more research is needed to confirm the cancer-preventative effects of sesamin in humans, the results of these studies are promising.
As you can see, there are many potential health benefits associated with eating sesame seeds. If you're not already incorporating them into your diet, consider doing so—you may be surprised by how much of a difference they can make!
Want to know what is the best sesame oil? Check out our guide here!