Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sesame oil

Sesame oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from sesame seeds. Besides being used as a cooking oil in South India, it is often used as a flavor enhancer in and Southeast Asian cuisine.


Sesame oil is composed of the following fatty acids:


Sesame seeds were one of the first crops processed for oil as well as one of the earliest condiments. In fact, the word ennai that means oil in Tamil has its roots in the Tamil words eL and nei, which mean sesame and fat.

Prior to 600 BC, the Assyrians used sesame oil as a food, salve, and medication, primarily by the rich, as the difficulty of obtaining it made it expensive. Hindus use til oil in votive lamps, and consider the oil sacred. According to Hindu belief, lighting lamp filled with til oil in front of Lord Hanuman removes obstacles and difficulties in life.


In the Tamil language of India, Sesame Oil is called "Nalla Ennai", which literal translation in English is "good oil". In the Telugu language of India, Sesame Oil is called "''Nuvvula Noone''" or "''Manchi Noone''" . In the Kannada language of India, Sesame Oil is called "yellenne" . It is also called as Gingelly Oil in India.

Manufacture of sesame oil

Manufacturing process

The extraction of sesame oil from the sesame seed is not a completely automated process. In the fairy tale “” the sesame fruit serves as a symbol for wealth. When the fruit capsule opens, it releases a real treasure - the sesame seeds. However, a great deal of manual work is necessary before this point is reached. That is why sesame is hardly ever cultivated in Western industrialised agricultural areas.

The sesame seeds are protected by a capsule, which does not burst open until the seeds are completely ripe. The ripening time tends to vary. For this reason, the farmers cut plants by hand and place them together in upright position to carry on ripening for a few days. The seeds are only shaken out onto a cloth after all the capsules have opened.

The discovery of an indehiscent mutant by Langham in 1943 began the work towards development of a high yielding, shatter-resistant variety. Although researchers have made significant progress in sesame breeding, harvest losses due to shattering continue to limit domestic US production.

Sesame seed market

As of 2007, sesame is being imported into the US at a price of US$0.43/lb. This relatively high price reflects a world-wide shortage. Though the market for sesame seed is strong, domestic US production awaits the development of high-yielding nonshattering varieties. It is advisable to establish a market before planting.


There are many variations in the colour of sesame oil: cold-pressed sesame oil is almost colourless, while Indian sesame oil is golden and Chinese sesame oil is commonly a dark brown colour.

East Asian sesame oil derives its dark colour and flavour from toasted hulled sesame seeds. Cold pressed sesame oil has less flavour than the toasted oil, since it is produced directly from raw, rather than toasted seeds.

Sesame oil is traded in any of the forms described above: Cold-pressed sesame oil is available in Western health shops. In most Asian countries, different kinds of hot-pressed sesame oil are preferred.



Sesame oil carries a premium relative to other cooking oils and is considered more stable than most vegetable oils due to antioxidants in the oil. Sesame oil is least prone, among cooking oils, to turn rancid. This is because it has a very high boiling point. In effect, sesame oil retains its natural structure and does not break down even when heated to a very high temperature.

Sesame oil is most popular in Asia, including the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where its widespread use is similar to that of olive oil in the Mediterranean.

Body massage

Sesame oil is reputed to penetrate the skin easily, and is used in India for oil massage.

Hair treatment

Applying sesame oil to the hair is said to result in darker hair. It may be used for hair and scalp massage.
It is believed to reduce the heat of the body and thus helps in preventing hair loss

Food manufacture

Sesame oil is used in the manufacture of pickles.
Refined sesame oil is used to make margarine in Western countries.

Drug manufacture

Sesame oil is used in the manufacture of Ayurvedic drugs.


Sesame or Til oil is used in brass or silver lamps kept in front of gods and goddess of Hindus. Sesame oil is used for performing puja in Hindu temples.

Industrial uses

In industry, sesame oil may be used as:

* a solvent in injected drugs or intravenous drip solutions,

* a cosmetics carrier oil,

* coating stored grains to prevent weevil attacks. The oil also has synergy with some insecticides.

Alternative medicine

Vitamins and Minerals

Sesame oil is a source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant and has been correlated with lowering cholesterol levels. As with most plant based condiments, sesame oil contains magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B6. Copper provides relief for rheumatoid arthritis. Magnesium supports vascular and respiratory health. Calcium helps prevent colon cancer, osteoporosis, migraine and PMS. Zinc promotes bone health.

Besides being rich in Vitamin E, there is insufficient research on the medicinal properties of sesame oil. However, the following claims have been made.

Blood pressure

Sesame oil has a high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

It is suggested that due to the presence of high levels of Polyunsaturated fatty acids in sesame oil, it may help to control blood pressure. It could be used in cooking in place of other edible oils and to help reduce high blood pressure and lower the amount of medication needed to control hypertension.

Sesame oil is unique in that it has one of the highest concentrations of omega-6 fatty acids. At the same time, the oil contains two natural-occurring preservatives, sesamol and sesamin. Therefore, sesame oil is the only oil which has a high percentage of polyunsaturates and also keeps at room temperature.

The effect of the oil on blood pressure may be due to polyunsaturated fatty acids , and the compound sesamin – a lignan present in sesame oil. There is evidence suggesting that both compounds reduce blood pressure in hypertensive rats. Sesame lignans also inhibit the synthesis and absorption of cholesterol in these rats.

Oil pulling

Sesame oil is one of the few oils recommended for use in oil pulling. .

Stress and tension

Various constituents present in the sesame oil have anti-oxidant and anti-depressant properties. Therefore proponents encourage its use to help fight senile changes and bring about a sense of well-being.

Adherents for its therapeutic use reports claims of feeling better than when not using it.

General claims

While not approved by the Food and Drug Administration , sesame oil is reputed to have a number of therapeutic uses.

As with cure-all claims of other folk and therapeutic medicines, it is suggested that regular topical application and/or consumption of sesame oil should mitigate effects of anxiety, nerve and bone disorders, poor circulation, lowered immunity and bowel problems. It is suggested such use would also relieve lethargy, fatigue and insomnia, while promoting strength and vitality, enhancing blood circulation. There are claims that its use has relaxing properties which eases pain and muscle spasm, such as sciatica, dysmenorrhoea, colic, backache and joint pain. There are claims similar to other therapeutic medicines, that its having antioxidants explains beliefs that it slows the aging process and promotes longevity.

It is suggested that sesame oil, when consumed and/or topically applied, should relieve dryness both externally and internally. Sesame oil is sometimes recommended to alleviate the dryness associated with . It is believed that its use "restores moisture to the skin, keeping it soft, flexible and young looking". It is suggested that it relieves "dryness of joints" and bowels, and eases symptoms of dryness such as irritating coughs, cracking joints and hard stools. Since "dryness of joints" is not a medically classifiable condition, it would be difficult to medically comprehend or verify these claims of panacea.

Other uses include as a laxative, as a remedy for toothaches and gum disease and in the treatment of blurred vision, dizziness, and headaches.

It is suggested that sesame oil could be used in the treatment of dry nose, reduction of cholestrol levels , anti-bacterial effects, and even slowing down certain types of cancer.

Adverse effects

Sesame oil is not known to be harmful when taken in recommended dosages, though the long-term effects of taking sesame-derived remedies have not been investigated. Due to lack of sufficient medical study, sesame oil should be used with caution in children, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, and people with liver or kidney disease.

Because of its laxative effects, sesame oil should not be used by people who have diarrhea.

No more than 10% of a person's total caloric intake should be derived from polyunsaturated fats such as those found in sesame oil, according to the American Heart Association.

Oil massage should be avoided immediately after administering enemas, emetics or purgatives, during the first stages of fever or if suffering from indigestion.

People who are allergic to Peanuts are likely to be more susceptible to Sesame allergy. Allergy to Peanuts is one of the most common allergies, and can lead to anaphylactic shock which can be fatal. Persons allergic to Sesame seeds should be cautious about using Sesame oil.

No comments: