High cholesterol? Open Sesame!

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Sesamin acts on cholesterol accumulation.

Sesame was one of the first crops to be cultivated by farmers and its history dates back over 3000 years. Both the seeds and oil are used in many different food cultures. Now there is even more evidence supporting the beneficial effects of sesame in helping to lower cholesterol.  Scientists have investigated the molecular action of Sesamin, one of the main active constituents in sesame oil.  High (bad) cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis because it leads to the formation of foam cells in the blood vessels. Our bodies locate fat deposits in our blood vessel and send in the troops (macrophages) to try and clear it, but the cells fill with fat and take on the appearance of foam hence the name foam cells. The scientists carried out lab experiments to try and identify the way in which Sesamin may help clear cholesterol and found that it inhibited foam cell creation and increased the clearance of cholesterol through a specific biochemical pathway. They then confirmed their results by inhibiting the pathway further down the line and found that the Sesamin was no longer effective.

So, if you have high cholesterol try cooking  with Sesame oil, sprinkle the seeds on salads, bread rolls and soups or grind it up and add it to dips.

Liu et al. Sesamin Enhances Cholesterol Efflux in RAW264.7 Macrophages.  Molecules Jun 2014. 

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