The Benefits of Black Sesame Seeds - a little fountain of youth
Black Sesame Seeds
Copyright 2011 - Kris Heeter, Ph.D.
This article may not be reproduced, copied, or reprinted elsewhere online or offline without written consent of the author.
The first thought that comes to mind when one thinks of sesame seeds are little golden seeds. But, as with all plant life, there are always several varieties within a species that exhibit different genetic traits like color.
Sesame seeds can be: red, white, black, brown, and yellow. The color difference is based on the plant variety within the species, Sesamum indicum.
Noted health benefits of sesame seeds date back as early as 3000 B.C..
Ancient cultures utilized these seeds in a number of ways and they have been revered for centuries because of the belief that they promote energy and longevity.
Black sesame seeds have been used in traditional Chinese medicine and the traditional Ayurveda Indian medicine to address the underlying physical disturbances that lead to aging and premature gray hair.
The "fountain of youth" - what's the sesame's secret?
What makes sesame seeds, particularly black ones, so special in terms of energy and longevity?
Based on scientific research, Vitamin E has been shown to increase lifespan in mammals and promote healthy neurons. Sesame seeds contain tocopherols, the major "vitamers" of vitamin E.
Vitamin E, like many other vitamins, is not a single chemical but rather a collection of several chemical substances called "vitamers". Each vitamer within the vitamin has a different biological activity (aka "bioactivity").
Vitamers are believed to play an important role in the prevention of human aging-related diseases. Sesame seeds, contain a Vitamin E vitamer subclass called "gamma-tocopherol".
A research study out of the University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center found that the intake of moderate amounts of sesame seeds can significantly increase the levels of gamma-tocopherol levels in the blood. And, in combination with earlier studies, this suggests that there is an enhanced Vitamin E bioactivity and positive anti-aging role in the body after sesame seeds are digested.
With respect to black sesame seeds, it has been found that the brown pigment extracted from these seeds also contains increased antioxidant activity.
Antioxidants have been strongly linked to anti-aging, cancer prevention, and promoting heart health. In addition, research suggests that antioxidant properties can prevent the oxidation of cells that cause gray hair.
It should be noted that very high doses of Vitamin E can have the converse effect. Some studies suggest that Vitamin E, at high doses can be toxic to cells.
Additional Benefits and Ways to Use Sesame Seeds
In addition to being rich in Vitamin E, sesame seeds are a great source of calcium among other minerals.
These little guys are just one of several alternative sources of calcium for those allergic to dairy or for those that do like dairy products.
Sesame seeds can be used a variety of ways. Here's a sampling of ideas:
- On salads
- Mix with rice
- Ground and add to soy milk or smoothies
- Ground and make into a paste or dip for crackers and bread
- Add to soups
- Roasted on top of chicken
- Bake in bread
- In stir fry
Banks et al. (2010). Vitamin E supplementation and mammalian lifespan. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. May;54(5):719-25.
Halks-Miller et. al. (1981). Vitamin E-enriched lipoproteins increase longevity of neurons in vitro. 1981 Brain Research. Oct;254(3):439-47.
Xu et. al. (2005). Antioxidant activity of brown pigment and extracts from black sesame seed (Sesamum indicum L.). Food Chemistry. Vol 91: 1, Pages 79-83.
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