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The Benefits of Black Sesame Seeds - a little fountain of youth

Updated on December 13, 2015

Black Sesame Seeds

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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


Additional References:

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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    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Just read this hub again. I have a bottle of Black Sesame Seeds in my kitchen but I keep forgetting to use it. I bought it just for those health benefits you mentioned. You gave me many ideas now for its use, and I'm going to apply those suggestions. Who knows, maybe my grey hair will change back to brown! :-)

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I have heard that black sesame seeds are helpful with elliminating grey hair. So I became interested in reading your hub.

      You explained it better by saying hat it addresses the underlying physical disturbances that lead to premature gray hair. This does make it clearer -- that it may not be helpful once one already has grey hair. Did I interpret that correctly?

      Nevertheless, I see that it's still useful for the health related benefits you mentioned. Great hub with lots of information. Voted up.

    • Kris Heeter profile image
      Author

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @PaisleeGal and @lisasuniquievoice - thanks for stopping by ladies! I've really come to enjoy these and the black chia seeds I wrote about in another hub on my salads. They bring a little life to the salad and they are always a great conversational piece at a pitch-in:)

    • lisasuniquevoice profile image

      Lisa Brown 5 years ago from Michigan

      Kris,

      I never knew there were different colors of this seed, but I'm going to go out to the health food store and get some while I'm still young. Voted up and interesting.

      Thanks,

      Lisa

    • PaisleeGal profile image

      Pat Materna 5 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

      Good hub and valuable info. Never knew those little things were so good for us.

      Thanks for the story! voted up & interesting !

    • Kris Heeter profile image
      Author

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @vibesites - thanks for stopping by. There's no formal recommendation on the amount to eat to reach that fountain o youth but probably those in focused on in the study incorporate them into their diet a few times week in small amounts.

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 5 years ago from United States

      I love sesame seeds for my noodle soups and salads. But I've never heard and tried black sesame... will try to find that!

      Anyway, is there a recommended or ideal amount of those black sesame seeds to achieve the "fountain of youth"?

      Thanks for the post! Voted up and interesting. :)

    • Kris Heeter profile image
      Author

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @lemonkerdz - thanks for stopping by and enjoying eating those dark purple, red and black whole foods!

    • lemonkerdz profile image

      lemonkerdz 5 years ago from LIMA, PERU

      Interesting hub Kris, recently we have been looking into eating more healthy foods and black sesame seeds came up in conversation as being excellent especially for women. Basicaly anything in the natural food world that is dark purple, red black is great for women to eat due to the vitamins they contain. Great hub thanks

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 6 years ago

      Hi Kris ~ Voted up again. I have a box of black sesame seeds I keep in the freezer and use to liven up an exotic dish of rice or stir fry veggies. It seems you would have to eat quite a lot of them to get the Vitamin E benefits. I have also noticed that some organic pressed seed and nut bars have them sprinkled in them, too. Blessings, Debby

    • Kris Heeter profile image
      Author

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Amber - I hadn't realized there were different colors either until just recently. I ran across some in my local food co-op and have been adding them into salads now:) Thanks for stopping by!

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 6 years ago

      Hi Kris

      I never knew that you could get different colored sesame seeds and you've certainly expanded my knowledge about vitamins as I'd no idea that they were made up of different vitamers.

      Rated up and interesting as a great read.

      Amber:)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have seen some chefs on TV use them and thought that it would be a great color contrast, but now knowing how much more healthful they are...will have to make it a point to get some in the house and start using them. Thanks! Up and useful votes.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Kris, I love the flavour of sesame seeds but have never tried the black variety, I will look out for them.

      Thank you for the information on the health benefits, I thought the hub and title was great! voting up.

    • Kris Heeter profile image
      Author

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      tsarnaudova, Chefni, and Frieda and Cabmgmnt - - thanks for stopping by!

      cabmgmnt I agree, it is amazing how just basic foods like seeds have such amazing health benefits!

    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 6 years ago from Northfield, MA

      It always amazes me when I read about the different health benefits of food. By adding black sesame seeds to various recipes you can improve your vitamin E intake and improve your skin. Two great reasons why I will try black sesame seeds. Thanks.

    • Chefni profile image

      Chefni 6 years ago from Pakistan

      Very interesting indeed :)

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Well, I'm glad I just love black sesame seeds. Very cool. Great info.

    • tsarnaudova profile image

      Tsvetana Kodjabasheva 6 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria

      Very interesting and informative, Kris, as ever.

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