Sesame (Til): Tiny Titans that help Tame Blood Sugar

Sesame seeds, deeply ingrained in Indian culture and cuisine, bestow a myriad of health benefits and hold promising potential for aiding in diabetes management. Let's explore several avenues through which sesame could enhance the management of diabetes. A recent meta-analysis (2023) showed a promising effect of sesame seed consumption on glycemic control through reducing fasting blood sugar and HbA1c percentage, to confirm the impact of sesame consumption on insulin levels in type 2 diabetes.

How does Sesame support blood sugar control?

  1. Pinoresinol content- Sesame seeds contain pinoresinol, a compound that inhibits the enzyme maltase, which breaks down the sugar maltose. This can help slow down the digestion of sugars and prevent blood sugar spikes.
  2. Lignan content- Sesame seeds are particularly rich in lignans, specifically sesamin and sesamolin. These plant compounds have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, leading to lower blood sugar levels.
  3. Fiber- Sesame seeds are a good source of fiber, which helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, preventing sharp spikes in blood sugar.
  4. Healthy fats- Sesame seeds are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic acid and linoleic acid. These healthy fats have anti-inflammatory properties and may improve insulin sensitivity.
  5. Magnesium- Sesame seeds are a good source of magnesium, a mineral involved in insulin secretion and glucose metabolism. Adequate magnesium intake is associated with better blood sugar control.

Does roasting affect blood sugar lowering quality?
Lignan content, particularly sesamin and sesamolin, is considered a key factor in sesame's blood sugar-lowering properties. Studies suggest that roasting may slightly reduce the total lignan content in sesame seeds. On the other hand, roasting can make certain nutrients in sesame seeds, including lignans, more readily absorbed by the body. This could potentially offset the slight decrease in total lignan content. Roasting can lead to the formation of new compounds with potential health benefits, including pyrazines and melanoidins. These compounds may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which could indirectly contribute to better blood sugar control.

Is Sesame oil beneficial in diabetes, how much can be consumed?
The incorporation of sesame oil as a natural adjuvant can be effective in improving heart health, and diabetic nephropathy as well as modification of body mass index, waist circumference etc. Therefore, sesame oil and bioactive lignans as combination therapy with drugs can exhibit synergistic effects. About 30-35 ml daily of sesame oil or the inclusion of sesame oil in dietary patterns up to 30% of total energy for 8-12 weeks may be beneficial.

How much of sesame seeds to consume, what is the best way?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how much sesame seed a diabetic can consume. It depends on various factors like:

  1. Individual needs and blood sugar control- Every diabetic's insulin sensitivity and overall health require a personalized dietary approach.
  2. Carbohydrate content- While beneficial, sesame seeds still contain carbohydrates (around 5 grams per tablespoon). Consuming too much can affect your blood sugar levels. Remember, your total carbohydrate
    intake from all food sources matters.
  3. Sesame seed preparation- Roasting may slightly reduce the lignan content but improve their bioavailability. Soaking might increase nutrient absorption.
  4. Potential interactions with medications- Sesame seeds can interact with certain diabetes medications, potentially causing blood sugar to drop too low.
  5. Allergies and other health conditions- Some people might have sesame allergies or other medical conditions like gout that could be affected by excessive sesame seed intake. Consider any allergies or health concerns before introducing them to your diet.
    Consult your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine how to include sesame in your diet based on your health challenges, blood sugar control goals and overall dietary plan.

General recommendations:

  1. Moderate consumption- Most studies suggest 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 grams) of sesame seeds per day as a safe and beneficial amount for healthy individuals. However, for diabetics, it's best to start with smaller amounts and adjust based on your individual needs and blood sugar response.
  2. Track your blood sugar- Monitor your blood sugar levels before and after consuming sesame seeds to understand their impact on your specific case.
  3. Incorporate them carefully- Include sesame seeds as part of a balanced and diabetic-friendly diet. Consider adding them to salads, yogurt, smoothies, or using tahini in moderation.

You can also include a 100% natural, high-fiber supplement like ActiFiber Natural Sugar Control in your diet to avoid blood sugar spikes. Add a sachet of ActiFiber to each of the 2 main meals that have the goodness of fiber and prebiotic which helps in regulating blood glucose levels and keeps you energized between meals too. It dissolves easily with no taste, odour or colour thus blending into your regular diet effortlessly.

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