If your blood pressure is not well controlled, despite taking antihypertensive drugs, it’s worth swapping your usual cooking oil for sesame seed oil. Several studies show that switching to sesame oil in the kitchen can even lower a high blood pressure that is resistant to medication. Sesame seed oil makes for a delicious and healthy way to lower a problematic blood pressure and shows that nutritional medicine can taste good!
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How effective is sesame oil for lowing blood pressure?
One study involved 195 men and 133 women whose blood pressure remained high, despite taking antihypertensive treatment with the calcium channel blocker, nifedipine. They were asked to switch their usual cooking oil to sesame oil for all kitchen uses. Within 30 days, significant reductions in blood pressure were seen, and after 60 days all had an average blood pressure within the normal range.
In another study, 32 men and 18 women whose blood pressure remained resistant to antihypertensive treatment with either a diuretic (hydrochlorothiazide) or a beta-blocker (atenolol) were given a bottle of sesame oil and asked to use it as their only edible oil for 45 days.
At the end of this time, the substitution of sesame oil brought their systolic and diastolic blood pressures down into a relatively normal range, from an average of 144.25/97.9mmHg down to 124.88/83.8 mmHg – a reduction of 19.37/ 14.1 mmHg. They also lost a significant amount of weight (5.8kg from 74.3 kg down to 68.5 kg) despite making no other changes to their usual diet and lifestyle.
The same group was then asked to stop using sesame oil for another 45 days, and their blood pressure climbed back up to their original hypertensive values (an average of 144.85/97.6 mmHg) and they regained 1.5kg in weight. This suggests that sesame oil has a significant blood pressure lowering effect and may also promote weight loss – an effect which is believed to involve leptin hormone and satiety.
Sesame oil plus rice bran oil
If you don’t like the strong, nutty flavour of sesame oil, don’t despair. Another study used a blend of 20% sesame oil and 80% rice bran oil (Vivo) and asked 300 people with hypertension to take either the antihypertensive drug, nifedipine, or to use around an ounce (30g) of the sesame oil blend for cooking, or both, for 60 days. At the same time, 100 healthy people without high blood pressure were asked to switch to the sesame oil blend for cooking.
Significant reductions were seen in blood pressure in the people with hypertension who used the sesame oil blend alone (a 14/11 mmHg fall), nifedipine alone (a 16/12 mmHg reduction), or the combination of sesame oil blend and nifedipine – the combination treatment produced the greatest reduction in blood pressure of 36/24 mmHg! Beneficial changes in cholesterol balance and triglycerides also occurred.
In comparison, those with normal blood pressure experienced only a small fall in blood pressure of 2/0 mmHg, suggesting that the oi blend does not have a significant effect on people with a healthy blood pressure and circulation.
How does sesame oil lower blood pressure?
Sesame seed oil is rich in healthy fats, consisting of 40% monounsaturated and 43% polyunsaturated fatty acids. Sesame oil also contains unique antioxidant lignans called sesamol, sesamin episesamin, and sesamolin and is rich source of vitamin E (40mg per 100g).
The main blood pressure lowering effect of sesame seed oil is believed to come from its antioxidant lignans, which improve blood vessel elasticity. A group of 30 hypertensive men were asked to consume either 35g of sesame oil or a control oil (corn oil or olive oil), every day for two months. Tests showed that blood flow through their brachial artery (in the arm) significantly increased due to arterial dilation in those taking sesame oil compared with controls. This effect was seen within 2 hours of the first dose of sesame oil, and after long-term use of sesame oil when measured at 15 days, 30 days and 60 days. The elasticity of their arteries also improved (as measured by levels of intracellular adhesion molecule) but this took 60 days to develop.
Other studies involving people with hypertension, diabetes or both, have also shown that using sesame oil improves blood levels of several antioxidants such as glutathione peroxidase and catalase, to reduce inflammation.
Preclinical studies have also found that sesamin helps to reduce the harmful effects of excess salt, to reduce thickening of artery walls and thickening and dilation of the heart (cardiovascular hypertrophy).
How to use sesame seed oil
Drizzle sesame oil over any food, use it for stir frying, baking, salad dressings and more. Eat sesame seeds as a healthy snack, and sprinkle over breakfasts, muffins, cakes, desserts, add to smoothies and puddings. Here’s a great recipe for sautéed spinach with toasted sesame oil, below.
Image credit: a.j.choudhury/bigstock;