The sesame plant is a flowering plant whose seeds grow in a capsule after the flower is pollinated and dries up. The sesame seed capsule is dehiscent, which means that at a certain stage of maturity the capsule splits and the seeds burst out and scatter. Evolution may have designed the plant this way to ensure that the seeds are spread far away from the parent. But today, when sesame, or til as we know it in India, is a valuable crop, cultivated for its seeds and the oil extracted from them, this characteristic poses challenges for farmers. It is manually harvested to prevent loss of seeds due to spontaneous scattering. This explains why the production and use of gingelly oil or sesame oil is limited despite it being a healthy oil option. Here’s a bit of trivia: It is this characteristic of the plant that the saying “Open Sesame” has come from. Sesame is cultivated all over the world, but the largest producers are India and China. In southern India, gingelly oil is used both as a cooking medium and an external applicant in body and hair massages.
Benefits of switching to gingelly oil for cooking
1. Keeps the heart healthy: Gingelly oil has a compound called sesamol. Sesamol is an anti-oxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent and is extremely good for a healthy heart as it prevents the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries. Gingelly oil is also loaded with magnesium which is an important mineral for keeping hypertension in control. Gingelly oil is known to reduce LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol and increase the level of HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol.
2. Prevents diabetes: Gingelly oil has been known to be very effective in combatting diabetes. Not only does it lower the glucose in the blood and hypertension in diabetics, it also improves the effects of the drugs taken to control diabetes.
3. Has anti-carcinogenic properties: An anti-cancer compound called sesamin is present in good quantity in gingelly oil making it a very good oil to take to prevent cancer. It stops the growth of cancer cells and is particularly effective against cancers affecting the colon, prostrate and the ovaries. Magnesium, present in gingelly oil, has been known to be very effective in decreasing the risk of colorectal cancers.
4. Protects against cell damage from radiation: The antioxidant sesamol is known to protect cells from the effect of radiation. Further studies are on, and it has shown encouraging results where damage to the intestines and spleen due to treatment with radiation may be prevented. shutterstock_451807675
5. Boosts bone health: Gingelly oil contains zinc which is known to promote good bone health and boost bone mineral density. Zinc deficiency leads to osteoporosis or brittle bones in the hip and spine. Gingelly oil contains a good amount of calcium, a mineral which is essential for bone health.
6. Provides relief in rheumatoid arthritis: Copper, present in gingelly oil, helps in the functioning of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant enzyme systems which greatly reduces the pain and discomfort of arthritis. Copper also strengthens the blood vessels, joints and bones.
7. Improves intestinal health: Anti-inflammatory properties of gingelly oil helps to control conditions of the alimentary canal such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease. Benefits of gingelly oil in external applications
8. Boosts hair health: Gingelly oil has multiple benefits when used as a hair oil. It prevents the premature greying of hair. Since it also has hair darkening properties, it will even darken the hair when used regularly. It prevents damage due to exposure to the sun and pollution. It is used to treat dandruff and dry scalp. It is very good as a deep conditioner for hair and revitalises hair that is damaged due to stress. Gingelly oil prevents hair loss as well. To get the best results in hair care from gingelly oil, use it mixed with almond oil. An equal amount of both gingelly and almond oil mixed together and applied to the hair and a hot towel treatment afterwards will keep the hair thick and shining with health. This may be done thrice a week for best results.