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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2007;47(7):651-73.

Nutraceutical functions of sesame: a review.

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Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.


The results of recent food chemical and nutraceutical studies on the traditionally well-known health value of sesame are described, including some aspects of the utilization of sesame. The highly antioxidative activity of sesame oil was clarified and found to involve newly discovered lignans. The antiaging effect of sesame was elucidated to be due to the strong vitamin E activity caused by a novel synergistic effect of sesame lignans with tocopherols resulting from the inhibition of metabolic decomposition of tocopherols by sesame lignans. The specific inhibitory action of sesame lignans on Delta5 desaturase in polyunsaturated fatty acid synthesis was found in studies on the microbial production of polyunsaturated fatty acids. This effect of sesame lignans was extended to various effects on fatty acid metabolism involving lowering fatty acid concentration in liver and serum due to acceleration of fatty acid oxidation and suppression of fatty acid synthesis, and the controlling influence on the ratio of n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids under excess intake of either n-6 or n-3 fatty acids in the diet. Sesame lignans lowered the cholesterol concentration in serum, especially in combination with tocopherol, due to the inhibition of absorption from the intestine and suppression of synthesis in the liver. Sesame lignans also showed other useful functions such as acceleration of alcohol decomposition in the liver, antihypertensive activity, immunoregulatory activities, anticarcinogenic activity, and others.

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