What is Sesame Oil?
Sesame oil has been around for thousands of years and is one of the oldest cultivated oil crops (dating back 4000 years to Babylon and Assyria).
Its distinctive and flagrant flavors make it one of the most popular oils in Asian cooking – you’ll be hard pressed to find an Asian family without a bottle of sesame oil sitting among their cooking oils!
As with most cooking oils, there are many types of sesame oil resulting from different processing techniques. The most common 2 types are:
- Toasted Sesame Oil. This is the type of sesame oil most commonly used in East Asian cooking. To make the oil, the sesame seeds are first toasted (which imparts a rich flavor as well as a dark brown color to the oil) before the oil is extracted from the seeds. Extraction can be done through various methods (including with chemical solvents at high temperatures or with expeller presses at cooler temperatures), and you should check with the manufacturer of your sesame oil to determine what method they use.
- Raw Cold-Pressed Sesame Oil. In the United States, raw cold-pressed sesame seed oil has become increasingly popular. This type of oil starts with the raw sesame seed (no toasting occurs), and the oil is extracted at low-temperatures using high pressure. The lower temperatures that the sesame seed is kept at during the entire process ensures that less of the oil is oxidized. This typically results in a pale yellow oil (less fragrant than the toasted sesame oil).
Is Sesame Oil Paleo?
Quick Answer: No (but ok in small amounts occasionally)
We’re going to look at 2 major considerations when considering sesame oil:
- The High Omega-6 (Polyunsaturated) Fat Content. The breakdown of sesame oil is as follows:40% monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA)
41% Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid PUFA
14% Saturated fatty acidAs discussed in previous articles (here and here), high omega-6 amounts is highly detrimental to our health. The crucial take away is to get a balanced amount of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats, and our current diet is composed heavily of omega-6 fats with very little omega-3 fats.
Hence consuming sesame oil is not very beneficial to us due to its very high omega-6 amounts (and negligible omega-3 amounts.
- Possibility of Oxidation. When the oil is separated from the seed through the extract process, the oil loses all most of its natural protections for oxidation provided by the seed. Exposed now to light, heat, and oxygen, the oil quickly oxidizes and becomes rancid. When you eat this rancid oil, it promotes inflammation in your body, which can lead to long-term health problems.One redeeming characteristic of sesame oil that makes it less likely to be oxidized than other vegetable and seed oils is its high concentration of powerful antioxidants like sesamol and tocopherol.However, to ensure that you’re not eating a rancid oil, it’s ideal to use raw cold-pressed oil that’s kept in a dark container and then store it in a dark cool cupboard at home.
Some Asian dishes just wouldn’t taste the same without a splash of sesame oil, but use it very sparingly and buy the raw cold-pressed oil if possible.
Recommended brand: Napa Valley Naturals (Unrefined, Cold-Pressed, Organic)
Let Us Know
Do you use sesame oil?