Sesame oil found to protect the heart from disease

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of mortality worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that these diseases account for as much as 17.9 million deaths every year, which is approximately 31 percent of all global deaths. These numbers highlight the need for remedies that can safely and effectively protect the heart from disease. Scientists have searched high and low for products that can protect people against heart disease, but it turns out that they didn’t have to look far since the answer lies within most people’s pantries. A recent study, published in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal showed that sesame oil, which is also known as “the queen of oils,” can prevent cholesterol from accumulating in the arteries and causing atherosclerosis.

Sesame oil, which is derived from sesame seeds, is believed to be a healthier and cheaper alternative to common vegetable oil. It exhibits many beneficial properties including antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. Studies have also shown that it is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats that keep the cells and blood vessels healthy. Unfortunately, sesame oil remains less popular than other types of oil, possibly because it has the tendency to burn quickly.

For people who are at high risk of developing heart disease, sesame oil is highly recommended since it has been shown to reduce cholesterol and chronic inflammation, which are major contributors to atherosclerosis. Scientists believe that these heart-healthy benefits can be attributed to water-soluble compounds in the oil. However, there have been no reports on how these water-soluble components affect atherosclerosis risk compared to the oil itself prior to this study.

In this study by researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine, the team tested the effects of sesame oil as well as its aqueous extracts on mice. To do this, they first divided the mice into three groups, with one group receiving sesame oil, another for the aqueous extracts, and the last one receiving no treatment. The different treatments were administered for one month then the researchers proceeded to feed the mice a high-fat diet for another 30 days, after which they observed for the development of atherosclerosis, cholesterol levels, and inflammation.

Results of the study showed that the mice from the groups that received sesame oil or the aqueous extracts did not develop atherosclerosis. On the other hand, the control group developed this cardiovascular disease. The researchers also observed that both sesame oil and the aqueous extracts reduced inflammation. However, only mice that were given sesame oil had lower cholesterol levels.

“Considering both groups were protected from atherosclerosis, this tells us that inflammation is more important in causing the disease than cholesterol,” said Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy, a cardiovascular researcher at the UCF College of Medicine and one of the authors of the study. “This is an important discovery because current atherosclerosis drug therapies, like statins, focus on lowering cholesterol and do not target inflammation.”

From these results, the researchers were able to conclude that sesame oil can protect the heart from diseases like atherosclerosis by reducing cholesterol and inflammation. Furthermore, they were able to show that the anti-inflammatory effects of sesame oil can be attributed to its water-soluble components and that inflammation plays a bigger role in the development of atherosclerosis. (Related: Sesame and rice bran oil can treat high blood pressure and cholesterol, study shows.)

Health risks associated with statins

With these findings, it is possible to reduce the dependence of people on cholesterol-lowering medications like statins. Although these types of drugs have been shown to be effective, they are also associated with side effects that outweigh their benefits. Some of the health risks associated with statins include the following:

  • Muscle pain
  • Liver damage
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Memory loss
  • Digestive problems

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