Fish oil. Flaxseed oil. Krill oil. We all hear about the natural sources of omega-3 essential acids our bodies need to make the prostaglandin hormones that fight inflammation.
And we all hear about how we need to avoid getting much of the oils that are high in the omega-6 essential fatty acids. These fats are still "essential." The problem is just that we get too many of the fats our bodies need to make the hormones that cause healing inflammatory reactions (that activate the immune system), and not enough of the fats that stop the process.
But we still need some omega-6's, and it's always better if we use sources of omega-6's that can do nutritional double duty. One of the most nutritious omega-6 sources is sesame oil, preferred because it provides a plant chemical known as sesamin.
Sesamin, ironically, fights fat storage in your body. This chemical survives the process of digestion in your stomach and hitches a ride on the omega-6 fatty acids released from sesame oil that go into circulation.
Traveling around the body, it latches on to a particular kind of receptor on the surfaces of the liver and kidneys known as peroxisome proliferator activated receptor alpha, or PPAR-alpha. Fitting like a lock into a key, sesamin "turns on" an enzymatic process that helps the liver, kidney, and fat cells burn more fatty acids for fuel.
It also stops the production of a chemical called sterol regulatory element binding protein-1, or SREBP-1, in the liver. This is the trigger for formation of the chains of fatty acids that get stored as fat.
It helps you burn fat faster, and store fat less. You still need to be burning more calories than you consume to lose weight, but sesamin helps take some of the ups and downs out of dieting. Sesamin makes the experience of dieting more predictable.
So how can you get sesamin? You can take sesamin capsules, of course. If you are fighting fat in your diet, that can be the way to go. But if you have a little room in your diet, why not try some of the delicious foods made with sesame?
Sesame seeds and sesame oil are kitchen staples around the world, except in the English-speaking countries. Seven simple ways to use sesame in your own home cooking include:
- One of the best ways to save both money and calories is to make your own salad dressings. Add sesame oil to your vinaigrette for a nutty flavor and creamier texture.
- Determined to eat your daily greens? Saute greens in sesame oil, or add a teaspoon of sesame oil to each serving of boiled or steamed greens. Sesame oil is especially useful in adding flavor to winter's low-cost vegetable, cabbage.
- There are many "candies" made with a minimum of sugar and a maximum of sesame seeds. Try the honey and sesame candies of South Asia and Mexico, halvah from the Middle East, or goma-dofu from Japan.
- Add sesame oil to marinades for meats and vegetables you put on the grill.
- Need to treat low thyroid function. Try a traditional Korean breakfast dish, seaweed with a dash of vinegar and sesame seeds.
- Add sesame seeds to cakes, just as you would add nuts.
- Add sesame seeds to vegetable soups for extra texture and flavor.
The thing to remember about sesame seeds and sesame oil is that a little does the job. You should not try to eat more and more fat to lose weight! But if you are open to sesame, you can enjoy new flavors and comforting, creamy textures even while you achieve your goals for your weight loss diet.