Sesamum indicum is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. It is considered to be the oldest oilseed crop known, its cultivation stretching back more than 5,000 years. The seed supplies lignans—mainly sesamin, sesamolin, and sesaminol glucosides—with beneficial physiological activities.
Research on sesame lignans has focused on five physiological categories:
- Antioxidant ProtectionSupplementation with sesamin has been shown to improve the status of gamma-tocopherol and alpha/gamma-tocotrienols in liver, brain, kidney and skin.
- Fatty Acid Balance and the Inflammatory ResponseSesame lignans have been found to decrease delta-5 desaturase activity, a mechanism with repercussions for inflammation mediators in the body.
- HepatoprotectionSesame lignans are hepatoprotective, beneficially impacting liver function. Sesamonlin may be more active in this regard than sesamin.
- CardiovascularSesame lignans support blood pressure regulation and the regulation of blood lipid levels possibly as a secondary result of antioxidant action and potentiation of vitamin E activity.
- Sesame lignans increase the oxidation of fats for energy, especially in the liver. Two important mechanisms include activating PPAR-alpha and carnitine palmitoyl transferase (CPT), actions that support proper fatty acid oxidation and metabolic flexibility.
Science & References
- Kamal-Eldin A, Moazzami A, Washi S. Sesame seed lignans: potent physiological modulators and possible ingredients in functional foods & nutraceuticals. Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric. 2011 Jan;3(1):17-29.
- Jeng KCG and Hou RCW. Sesamin and Sesamolin: Nature’s Therapeutic Lignans. Current Enzyme Inhibition, 2005, 1, 11-20.
- Miyawaki T, Aono H, Toyoda-Ono Y, et al. Antihypertensive Effects of Sesamin in Humans. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2009 Feb;55(1):87-91.
- Nakano D, Itoh C, Takaoka M, et al. Antihypertensive effect of sesamin. IV. Inhibition of vascular superoxide production by sesamin. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002 Sep;25(9):1247-9.
- Namiki M. Nutraceutical functions of sesame: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2007;47(7):651-73.
- Yamashita K, Ikeda S, Iizuka Y, Ikeda I. Effect of sesaminol on plasma and tissue alpha-tocopherol and alpha-tocotrienol concentrations in rats fed a vitamin E concentrate rich in tocotrienols. Lipids. 2002 Apr;37(4):351-8.