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Know your Herbs

Sesame

Sesame also known as Sesamum Indicum is a flower-bearing plant that belongs to the Pedaliaceae plant family. Some common names of sesame are benne, gingelly & benne seeds.

This plant is largely found in Asia & Africa. Sesame seeds are one of the oldest oilseeds popular for its oils. The cultivating species originated in India & can even bear drought-like dry climatic conditions.

Sesame plant is a perennial plant that has an average height of 50 to 100cm. It bears opposite leaves of 4 to 14 cm length. The flowers of this plant are yellow in colour with a four-lobed mouth. The colour of the flowers varies from white to yellow or purple.

The fruit of this plant is rectangular in section & has a beak-like structure. The length of the fruit is around 2 to 8 cm whereas the width is around 0.5 to 2 cm. The fruits naturally open up to provide seeds. The sesame seeds are small in size & are available in several colours. The length of the seeds is around 3 to 4 mm with 2mm width & 1mm thickness.

Sesame seeds also vary in colour. There are many varieties of sesame seeds like buff, gold, tan, off white, reddish, grey & black, out of which off-white variety is the one that is used most frequently.

There are several varieties of sesame that grow in different types of soils. The best yield can be obtained by the use of properly drained, fertile soils with a neutral Ph. The soils with high salts & water logging condition are not suitable for the growth of this plant.

Sesame oil is edible in nature & is used as a cooking oil, carrier oil & ayurvedic medicine. It is also used in soaps, lubricants & paints. This oil is pale yellow in colour with a lovely fragrance. It is used for flavouring the food & is used in deep frying or sautéing. It contains high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids & minerals.

Benefits of Sesame

  • Helps in reducing cholesterol : Sesame seeds contain the highest number of phytosterols which help in reducing cholesterols levels & improve the immunity of the body.
     
  • Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis : Sesame oil helps in treating rheumatoid arthritis. It improves bone health by providing strength & elasticity to bones. The swelling & joint pain is relieved by the use of this natural oil.
     
  • Oral health : Sesame oil prevents bacterial infections, gum problems & tooth cavity in the mouth. It helps in reducing the bad bacteria from the mouth which in turn prevents dental problems like gingivitis.
     
  • Effective on insomnia : Body & head massage with sesame oil has a magical comforting effect on the body. It cuts down tensions & stress from the body which has a healing effect on the nervous system. Thus helps in improving the quality of sleep.
     
  • Good for skin : Vitamins play an important role in skincare. Sesame oil is a good source of vitamin b & e that provides deep nourishment to the skin. It improves the skin texture & keeps the skin youthful.