Sesame Oil and Diabetes

Jacob Schor ND, FABNO

January 15, 2011


Just about a month ago the journal Clinical Nutrition published a paper by Sankar et al that suggests that type 2 diabetics will be significantly benefitted if they were to use sesame oil for cooking instead of most other oils.


Their study was open label, that is the participants knew whether they were eating sesame oil or not.  The participants were 60 type 2 diabetes mellitus patients who were divided into 3 groups; 18 patients ate sesame oil, 20 patients took a daily dose of glibenclamide (the oral diabetes drug known as Glyburide) and 22 patients got both both sesame oil and glibenclamide.  The patients in the sesame group were supplied with sesame oil and instructed to use about 35 grams (about 2.4 Tablespoons) per day in cooking or salad preparation.  The study lasted 60 days.  Blood samples were collected at baseline and after 60 days of the experiment for analysis.


The sesame oil had a synergistic effect with glibenclamide.  The combination therapy significantly lowered blood sugar and A1c more than either oil alone or drug alone did. 


In those who received only sesame oil, total cholesterol dropped 20%, LDL cholesterol dropped 33.8%, and triglycerides dropped 14%.  In those receiving both sesame oil and glibenclamide these numbers were even better, 22%, 38% and 15% respectively.  HDL increased 15.7% in the sesame oil patients and 17% in those receiving the combination of oil and drug.


This is not the first study to suggest that sesame oil might be beneficial for diabetics.  In a 2005 paper on rats with chemically induced diabetes, Ramesh et al reported that after 42 days of eating a diet supplemented with 6% sesame oil, mean blood glucose dropped from approximately 322.61 mg/dL to 222.02 mg/dL. In 2007 Dhar et al, also using rats with chemically induced diabetes, reported that sesame lignans not only improved the lipid profile but significantly reduced the peroxidation of the LDL cholesterol.   


In 2006 Sankar et al reported the results from a pilot study on 40 hypertensive diabetics that found eating sesame oil caused significant effects in hypertensive diabetics medicated with atenolol and glibenclamide. The patients switched to sesame oil for cooking for 45 days at which point they switched to other oils like palm or peanut oils for another 45 days.  During the sesame oil portion of the study, “Systolic and diastolic BP decreased remarkably. When oil substitution was withdrawn, BP values rose again.”  During the sesame oil phase of the study, body weight, body mass index, girth of waist, girth of hip, and waist-to-hip ratio decreased. So did plasma glucose, hemoglobin A1c, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.


Given these results it now seems reasonable to suggest a little experiment to our type 2 diabetic patients.  Switch to eating only sesame oil for 8 weeks and see if your lipid profiles improve. 


Given the parameters that are improved by sesame oil, we must wonder whether it might also benefit those with metabolic syndrome?  Thus a similar experiment, an 8-week sesame trial, to those with metabolic syndrome might be worth considering for metabolic syndrome patients.


As a side note, there has also been recent interest in sesame oil’s capacity to accelerate wound healing.     Given that a common complication that diabetic suffer is poor wound healing, this action may also prove of useful for this patient population.





Sankar D, Ali A, Sambandam G, Rao R. Sesame oil exhibits synergistic effect with anti-diabetic medication in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.  Clin Nutr. 2010 Dec 15


Ramesh B, Saravanan R, Pugalendi KV. Influence of sesame oil on blood glucose, lipid peroxidation, and antioxidant status in streptozotocin diabetic rats. J Med Food. 2005 Fall;8(3):377-81.


Dhar P, Chattopadhya K, Bhattacharyya D, Biswas A, Roy B, Ghosh S. Ameliorative influence of sesame lignans on lipid profile and lipid peroxidation in induced diabetic rats.  J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Jul 11;55(14):5875-80. Epub 2007 Jun 16.


Sankar D, Rao MR, Sambandam G, Pugalendi KV. A pilot study of open label sesame oil in hypertensive diabetics.  J Med Food. 2006 Fall;9(3):408-12.


Shenoy RR, Sudheendra AT, Nayak PG, Paul P, Kutty NG, Rao CM. Normal and delayed wound healing is improved by sesamol, an active constituent of Sesamum indicum (L.) in albino rats.  J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print]


Valacchi G, Lim Y, Belmonte G, Miracco C, Zanardi I, Bocci V, Travagli V. Ozonated sesame oil enhances cutaneous wound healing in SKH1 mice. Wound Repair Regen. 2010 Dec 6. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-475X.2010.00649.x. [Epub ahead of print]


Kiran K, Asad M. Wound healing activity of Sesamum indicum L seed and oil in rats.  Indian J Exp Biol. 2008 Nov;46(11):777-82.


Periasamy S, Liu CT, Hsu DZ, Liu MY. Sesame oil accelerates kidney healing following gentamicin-induced kidney injury in rats.  Am J Nephrol. 2010;32(5):383-92. Epub 2010 Sep 2.