Sesame is a flowering plant domesticated for more than 3,000 years in many tropical regions of the Earth, and cultivated for the oil-producing seeds, which contain more oil than most other seed types. Sesame seeds and their oil are found globally in many types of food, from halva to hamburger buns, but are known to cause allergic reactions in some people.
Whole dried sesame seeds are rich in protein, fibre, unsaturated fats and minerals, especially copper, which can be beneficial in reducing pain and swelling in rheumatoid arthritis. They are also a very good source of manganese, which is essential for maintaining regular metabolism, skeletal development, and the immune system, and a good source of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, molybdenum, and selenium.
The seeds also contain more phytosterols than most other nuts, especially those called lignans, one of the major classes of plant oestrogens that also act as antioxidants. The lignan sesamin has been shown to help reduce cholesterol, and it may also reduce the body's ability to store fat. Studies show that sesamin is converted into mammalian enterolactone, which have a role in preventing breast tumour development and may also be a factor in preventing cardiovascular disease.