Sesame plants grows upto 1 to 2 feet high, grown for their small, obovate and flattened seeds. The harvesting season of sesame seeds are about 4 to 5 months. Sesame seeds are mainly used in baking, candy making and are also extracted for oil. Sesame oil is generally used as salad oil and in other foods.
Sesame seeds are rich in manganese, copper, calcium, vitamin B1 and vitamin E. They contain lignans, including unique content of sesamin, which are phytoestrogens with antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Sesame seeds are also contain phytosterols associated with reduced levels of blood cholesterol. The nutrients of sesame seeds are better absorbed if they are ground or pulverized before consumption.
Since the sesame oil contains an antioxidant called sesamol, sesame oil itself and the foods fried in sesame oil will have a long shelf life. The ancient Babylon would eat a mixture of honey and sesame seeds (the mixture is called as halva) to prolong youth and beauty. Sesame oil can be used as a substitute for Olive oil in making the liniments, ointments and plasters.
Sesame oil is used for massage and health treatments of the body in the ayurvedic medicine system. Ayurveda views sesame oil as the most viscous of the plant oils.
Sesame meal, which is left after the oil is pressed from the seed, is an excellent high-protein feed for poultry and livestock.