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Is Sesame Oil a Bad Fat?

By Graham Ulmer

A 2006 study published in the "Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine" concluded that edible sesame oil was associated with a reduction in blood pressure and decreased symptoms of hypertension in a sample of 32 male and female patients with mild to moderate hypertension. Sesame oil is generally quite healthy, containing an abundance of unsaturated fat, moderate amounts of saturated fat and no cholesterol or trans fat.

Total Fat

Like all vegetable oils, sesame oil is strictly a fat, so all of its caloric value is measured as fat. Fat is a macronutrient -- a nutrient the body needs in large quantities -- providing energy, protecting and insulating organs, and storing and transporting vitamins. Fat should account for 20 to 35 percent of an adult's daily caloric intake.

Saturated Fat

About 2 of the 13.6 g in a 1-tbsp., or 13.6-g, serving of sesame oil exist in the form of saturated fat. Like all fats, saturated fats are a source of energy and assist with organ protection and vitamin transport. While saturated fats are natural and may have some positive dietary effects, the American Heart Association advocates limiting saturated fat intake because of its correlation with increased blood cholesterol levels. A 1-tbsp. serving of sesame oil contains about 13 percent of the AHA's recommended limit for a 2,000-calorie diet.

Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are generally healthy and are associated with reduced blood cholesterol levels and improved cardiovascular health. About 11 of the 13.6 g of fat in sesame oil are unsaturated. Specifically, a serving of sesame oil contains about 5.4 g of monounsaturated fat and 5.7 g of polyunsaturated fat. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are generally those that stay liquid room temperature. They can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Unsaturated fats should comprise at least 70 to 80 percent of your total fat intake.


Phytosterols are natural plant-derived compound lipids similar to cholesterol. These lipids have been associated with an abundance of health benefits, including reduced cholesterol and a possible reduction in the risk of certain types of cancer. One tbsp. of sesame oil contains 118 mg of these plant lipids, or about 4 to 8 percent of the ideal daily dose. Nuts, seeds and legumes are also high in phytosterols.

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