Vegan Health ArticlesArteries--Open Sesame!
A Vegan Health Article from

These vegan health articles are presented to assist you in taking a pro-active part in your own health.

See Health Position and Disclaimer

From Michael Greger, M.D. 

People who have lived with me know about my "magic powder." I sprinkle it on almost everything. It's a combination of ground flax seed, dulse flakes, vitamin B12-fortified nutritional yeast and toasted and ground sesame seeds. The flax is for my Omega 3 fatty acids (although as little nutritional powerhouses they are much much more); the dulse is for iodine since I don't use salt (I've always wanted to include sea vegetables in my diet, because I knew they were so amazing trace mineral-wise, but I never liked the taste. Dulse is a gorgeous purple seaweed with but a mild flavor); and the nutritional yeast is for my B12 (although again there's so much other nutrition in this stuff it turns your pee yellow :). But the toasted sesame seeds (just spread a layer of raw sesame seeds in a toaster oven tray and toast until golden brown) are just to make the whole thing edible. Sesame seeds are the first recorded seasoning ever, dating back over 5000 years and no wonder--the rich sweet nutty flavor and fragrance of freshly toasted sesame seeds is out of this world. Little did I know that all this time they were helping to keep my arteries clean. And I love hearing good news about my good habits.

I've known about sesamin and sesamolin, two natural compounds found in sesame seeds that the good bacteria in your gut convert into powerful anticancer agents. I've known about sesaminol and sesamolinol (scientists aren't known for being a terribly creative bunch), two powerful vitamin E-like antioxidants. But I never thought of sesame seeds as being useful in cholesterol reduction, until now. Researchers at Chung Yuan University in Taiwan tried feeding a few tablespoons of toasted and ground (coffee grinders work well) sesame seeds to people every day for a month. Not only did it significantly lower the subjects' cholesterol (bad LDL cholesterol down 10%) but dramatically improved the antioxidant status of their blood.[1] Sadly, all the benefits vanished once they stopped eating the sesame powder. So you'll either have to come over to my fridge (you're welcome anytime!) or try making some healthy "magic powder" seasoning of your own. If only Morgan Spurlock (of "Super Size Me" fame) had just picked off the sesame seeds on the Big Mac and thrown the rest away, he probably would have felt better.


[1] Chena PR, et al. 2005. Dietary sesame reduces serum cholesterol and enhances antioxidant capacity in hypercholesterolemia. Nutrition Research 25:559-67.

Return to Vegan Health Articles
Visit Food Hazards in Animal Flesh and By-products Health Position and Disclaimer

We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.