Sesame oil: characteristics, properties, benefits and use

Sesame oil, extracted from the seeds of the Sesamum indicu plant, rich in oleic acid and linoleic acid and numerous minerals such as phosphorus and calcium, useful for the prevention of osteoporosis. Let’s find out better.

Characteristics of sesame oil

Sesame oil is extracted from the seeds of the sesame plant, called according to the botanical wording Sesamum indicu, of the Pedaliaceae family. Sesame can reach 50 cm in height, has white tubular flowers and the seeds are very small so that to obtain one gram you need as many as 500 seeds.

The color of the seed can be white or black depending on the variety and the oil that is obtained changes slightly depending on the type of seed of origin. The yield in oil is however very high since you can extract from 40 to 60% of sesame oil, while for example to obtain olive oil the yield from the fruit is only from 15 to 35%.

The sesame plant is widely cultivated in India, Burma, Africa, China and the United States while in Europe it is known in the most Mediterranean areas of the South such as Italy and Greece.

Properties and benefits

Sesame oil is rich in oleic acid and linoleic acid, a source of omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. The composition of oleic and linoleic varies from 35 to 50 % of each of the two, while among saturated fatty acids palmitic and stearic abound.

The sesame seed is a source of numerous mineral salts such as iron, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, silicic acid and especially calcium in addition to other trace elements. The strong presence of calcium and these mineral salts make it a good supplement for growing children and for the elderly to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis.

It contains valuable vitamins with a prevalence of vitamin A, E and group B (B1, B2, B3). Finally, it contains eight essential amino acids important for the brain and this seems to be one of the reasons that lead to the use of sesame oil for head and scalp massage in Ayurvedic medicine, including the hair itself.

Sesame oil is used as an anti-inflammatory for the prevention and well-being of the skin. It also has antiviral and antibacterial properties that make it a powerful remedy against pathogens that can attack the epidermis and cause infections especially of a fungal nature as in the case of streptococci and staphylococci.

The stability of the oil is very high thanks to the presence of three natural antioxidants: sesamol, sesamoline and sesamol; this allows a preservation even at room temperature without risking the rancidity typical of many vegetable oils such as linseed oil that needs to be stored in the refrigerator.

The presence of antioxidants, in addition to promoting shelf life, fights aging and free radicals, so for food use the recommended amount is around 2 tablespoons a day to season dishes always using it raw to maintain all its properties, especially the integration of essential fatty acids.

Its composition and structure also allows it to be used as a light laxative that does not intervene drastically as in the case of the aid of purgants but slightly facilitates the evacuation of feces.

Sesame oil in the diet

Sesame oil is used in the kitchen in many typical Indian and South Asian dishes with use also in China and Japan both in first courses and for fish and vegetables just (think of the typical tempura). In Africa there are dishes now widespread even by us such as tahin which is the basis for the preparation of chickpea hummus.

Sesame oil has recently entered Mediterranean cuisine and is consumed raw as a dressing oil for salads, for pasta, for risottos at the end of cooking and even in recipes of desserts and pies in the dough itself.

The taste of sesame oil is described with a predominant initial sweet, a slight additional stringent taste and on the end part releases a warm power.

If the pressing takes place from black seeds, the oil is dark in color tending to brown and this is commonly found in Asia while sesame oil from light seed varieties takes a lighter color similar to amber yellow.

The seeds can be roasted and the pressing of these leads to a more intense color and flavor for an oil that is commonly used in Chinese and Korean cuisine to improve the taste of the dishes.

Instead the til is obtained by cold pressing of raw and unroasted seeds, the flavor is much more delicate than the Chinese one and traditionally it is in fact used in India both for seasoning and as a means of cooking food.

Use of sesame oil

External use helps, through direct applications, to reduce dandruff, regulate acne and firm for the skin of the face and body. In fact, several cosmetic products, soaps and shampoos, have sesame oil among their ingredients.

In addition, sesame oil is an excellent base as a massage oil that since ancient times has usually seen its use especially in India. Its application as a massage base is a peculiarity appreciated by Ayurvedic doctors who use it both only and as a base for extraction of other properties from other plants obtaining olioliths of excellent quality.

In the field of natural cures it has the particular characteristic of absorbing with extreme ease the properties of the herbs with which it comes into contact and conveying them reinforcing the action of intervention that is aimed at creating a health product or as a cosmetic for beauty.

To summarize its properties it is applied directly when the skin is reddened for different causes such as: sunburn, inflammation, eczema, erythema and even diaper irritation of babies.

Internal use is active on platelets, hemoglobin (oxygenation of red blood cells), nervous system and spleen; it is useful as a general tonic, for example in children who have a slow growth.


In India the sesame plant is called Tila which means “small particle”, while the word sesame seems to derive from the Arabic sesam which means grass. Indian mythology tells that the first sesame seed was born from the drop of sweat of Lord Vishnu then fell on Earth and sprouted to bring one of the most used oils in the Indus Valley.

From these ways of being called we already see how much its use in Africa and Asia is rooted, ancient and entered into traditional use both in cooking recipes and in treatments for skin and cosmetics.

A recipe of eco cosmetics do it yourself

Indicatively, a 500 ml bottle of cold-pressed sesame oil and organic farming costs more than 6 dollar. Let’s get the sesame oil base and prepare a scrub by adding rice or corn flour.

The preparation is simple and just combine 2 or more tablespoons of sesame oil with a tablespoon of flour of the type you prefer (more delicate rice and corn more exfoliating). On the moistened skin of the face or body is applied by massaging gently and rinsed with plenty of warm water.

The advice is to remove the residues of the do-it-yourself eco-cosmetic product well, otherwise you can find kneaded both on yourself and on the sanitary ware themselves.


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