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Sesame seeds are highly valued for their oil, which is exceptionally resistant to rancidity. They contain the following nutrients: Copper, Iron, Manganese, Phosphorus, Tryptophan, Zinc, Calcium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Magnesium and Dietary fiber as well as two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.
Sesame also reduces some of the pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis. Copper’s effectiveness is due to the fact that this trace mineral is important in a number of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant enzyme systems. In addition, copper plays an important role in the activity of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme needed for the cross-linking of collagen and elastin--the ground substances that provide structure, strength and elasticity in blood vessels, bones and joints.
Studies have supported magnesium’s usefulness in:
* Preventing the airway spasm in asthma
* Lowering high blood pressure, a contributing factor in heart attack, stroke, and diabetic heart disease
* Preventing the trigeminal blood vessel spasm that triggers migraine attacks
* Restoring normal sleep patterns in women who are experiencing unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause
Calcium Helps Prevent Colon Cancer, Osteoporosis, Migraine and PMS
In recent studies, calcium has been shown to:
* Help protect colon cells from cancer-causing chemicals
* Help prevent the bone loss that can occur as a result of menopause or certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
* Help prevent migraine headaches in those who suffer from them
* Reduce PMS symptoms during the luteal phase (the second half) of the menstrual cycle
Another reason for older men to make zinc-rich foods such as sesame seeds a regular part of their healthy way of eating is bone mineral density. Although osteoporosis is often thought to be a disease for which postmenopausal women are at highest risk, it is also a potential problem for older men. Almost 30% of hip fractures occur in men, and 1 in 8 men over age 50 will have an osteoporotic fracture. A study of 396 men ranging in age from 45-92 that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a clear correlation between low dietary intake of zinc, low blood levels of the trace mineral, and osteoporosis at the hip and spine.
Phytosterols are compounds found in plants that have a chemical structure very similar to cholesterol, and when present in the diet in sufficient amounts, are believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response and decrease risk of certain cancers.
Phytosterols beneficial effects are so dramatic that they have been extracted from soybean, corn, and pine tree oil and added to processed foods, such as “butter”-replacement spreads, which are then touted as cholesterol-lowering “foods. ”But why settle for an imitation “butter ”when Mother Nature’s nuts and seeds are a naturally rich source of phytosterols-and cardio-protective fiber, minerals and healthy fats as well?
In a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers published the amounts of phytosterols present in nuts and seeds commonly eaten in the United States. Sesame seeds had the highest total phytosterol content (400-413 mg per 100 grams). Of the nuts and seeds typically consumed as snack foods, pistachios and sunflower seeds were richest in phytosterols (270-289 mg/100 g), followed by pumpkin seeds (265 mg/100 g).