What is sesame oil?

Sesame oil or “til ka tel” is extracted from sesame seeds which are either raw (non-toasted) or toasted. It finds usage for culinary purposes, in cosmetic products, and possesses medicinal properties. Cold-pressed sesame seeds yield virgin sesame oil, which is regarded as superior to many oils as it contains healthy free fatty acids.

Sesame oil has a significant content of micronutrient vitamin K, sterols, tocopherols, and natural lignan such as sesamol. Sesame oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and many antioxidants such as vitamin E and phytosterols. Sesamin, sesamol and gamma-tocopherol are the major lignans present in sesame oil, which exhibit potent antioxidant properties. Sesame oil exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties due to the presence of these antioxidants.

Health Benefits of sesame oil

Major health benefits of sesame oil are:

  • It provides heart-healthy fats: sesame has a balanced ratio of heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Research has shown that a diet containing these fatty acids reduces the risk of developing heart diseases
  • It helps to reduce the bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides: the phytosterols present in sesame oil, especially sesamin helps to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride and help to protect the heart. it also helps to improve HDL (good cholesterol) levels in blood.
  • It helps to lower blood pressure and has anti-hypertensive properties: Sesamin has also been shown to lower blood pressure, and inhibit the absorption and synthesis of cholesterol.
  • It possesses anti-carcinogenic properties: phytochemicals, sesamin, sesamol and gamma-tocopherol have potent antioxidant properties and act as anti-carcinogens.
  • It is helpful in reducing inflammation: Traditionally sesame oil is used as a medicinal oil that helps to treat joint pains, and toothaches, reduce menstrual cramps, and treat cuts and scrapes.
  • It can help to regulate blood sugar levels: Studies have shown that regular consumption of sesame oil can help to reduce fasting blood glucose levels (early morning sugar levels) and also bring about a reduction in the HbA1c levels.
  • Helps relieve stress and depression: Sesame oil contains an amino acid tyrosine, which is the precursor of the stress-relieving hormone serotonin. Serotonin helps to fight the feeling of stress and depression and also helps to improve sleep quality.
  • Sesame oil improves circulation, helps to keep the body warm and nourishes hair. It also helps to strengthen the health of new mothers and elderly
  • Benefits Hair Health: Vitamin E and the phytosterols sesamin found in sesame oil help to improve hair strength and make them shinier.
  • Protects skin from damage by sun’s rays: UV rays from the sun may have a damaging effect on the skin. Sesame oil can help protect the damage by the sun’s UV rays and can be used as a natural sunscreen due to its antioxidant properties. Sesame oil can resist up to 30% of UV rays. Vitamin E, present in sesame oil also protects the skin cells from the damage caused by environmental pollutants, and toxins.

How to use sesame oil?

For cooking:  sesame oil is popular in Chinese, Japanese, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Sesame oils from raw seeds are light in colour and have a delicate, neutral flavour. Toasted varieties, on the other hand, are darker, richer, and have a nuttier taste.

Sesame oil from toasted seeds is used mostly in the Chinese and Asian cooking, while the non-toasted type can be used for sautéing. Toasted sesame oil is mostly added in the last stages of cooking or used as marinades, dressings, and sauces.

Non-toasted sesame oil finds its use in bakeries as an alternative to butter and margarine. It can be used for cooking, stir-frying, or sautéing as any other cooking oil.

For hair application:

  • Lightly message the entire hair length, scalp, and hair roots with warm sesame oil. Leave it on hair for 20-30 minutes afterward and wash hair with mild shampoo and lukewarm water.
  • Neem, almond oil or coconut oils can be mixed with sesame oil for better absorption and for improving hair quality before hair massage.
  • Amla and bhringaraj can be added to sesame oil to promote hair growth. Regular head massage with sesame oil improves hair health and makes them long and lustrous.

For skin application:

  • Sesame oil has natural SPF (sun protection factor) properties and so can be used as a natural sunscreen.
  • Regular application of sesame oil can make the skin soft, smooth and radiant.
  • Sesame oil helps to calm the skin and heals any cuts or wounds on the skin. Vitamin E in sesame oil helps to soothe skin rashes
  • The polyphenols present in the sesame oil help to balance the pH of the skin.
  • Sesame oil can be used as a cleanser and moisturizer. Massage with sesame oil before bathing with warm water helps to nourish the skin and make it soft and supple.

Who should and should not use sesame oil?

People in all age groups can use sesame oil except for:

  • People who are allergic to sesame must avoid the use of sesame oil.
  • People on anti-hypertensive medicines (medicines to lower blood pressure) and anti-diabetic medicines (medicines to lower blood sugar levels) must speak to the doctor or the dietician before using sesame oil in their diet.

Although sesame oil contains heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, too much oil can lead to unwanted effects. Sesame oil is high in calories, which can lead to weight gain if eaten in excess.

Ms Sunita Roy Chowdhury, Senior Nutritionist, Dietician and Nutrition Educator 
Healthynudgez and Guiding Stars Open Learning Academy,
Under the banner of SS Guiding Stars Pvt. Ltd.


At Multano we are passionate about helping people make their lives healthier and happier. All information provided in this article is researched and authenticated by qualified experts. We are dedicated to providing reliable and accurate information to our readers.   However, please use the information provided here with discretion. Any changes in medication/diet must be done with the approval of your treating medical practitioner/Dietician only.