THE SESAME plant has a recorded history that dates back to Babylonian times.
The seed capsules split open with a shattering plop on ripening which explains the origin of the phrase `Open Sesame!'
The seeds, fried, baked or candied, are a popular snack all over India, and the seed meal leftover after extracting the oil is prized cattle feed.
Ever wondered why sesame oil (a.k.a gingelly, til or nuvvulu) is so widely used in the making of pickles that last all year?
It is because the oil contains sesamol, an antioxidant that keeps food fresh for a long time.
Sesame oil is also a popular salad oil that's remarkably low in cholesterol and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids like linoleic acid and oleic acid that are good for the heart. About 100 gm of the oil contains a frightening 883 calorie, but only around 15 gm of the oil is saturated fat.
Unlike sunflower and safflower oils, sesame oil is unlikely to be fortified with Vitamin A at the processing stage.
Sesame seeds are more nutritious than the oil, but they are no less calorie-packed. 100 gm of the seed contain 572 calorie, with nearly 49 gm of fat, and 17 gm of protein. The latter is what makes leftover seed meal such a nutritious cattle feed.
The oil was traditionally used as a laxative, pick-me-up and emollient.
In modern times, sesame oil is a valuable pharmaceutical base and solvent for many drugs.
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