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Food in Chinese Medicine: Black Sesame

Black sesame is a good source of healthy fats (polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 and omega 6). It contains lignons and antioxidants which can improve liver function and lower cholesterols. It is also a good source of protein and minerals such as iron, zinc, copper and magnesium. It is harvested in autumn and the black sesame seeds are extracted to be sun dried. It can be eaten raw, toasted or grounded into powder to sprinkle over rice, salads, mixed in muesli or oats, and even together with soy milk.

Black sesame is used for liver-kidney essence and blood deficiency with symptoms such as dizziness, tinnitus and premature greying of hair. It is also used to treat constipation due to blood deficiency and moisten intestine to soften hard stools. According to the book Materia Medica, it says that "Consuming black sesame for hundred days can prevent many ailments. The facial complexion is vibrant and plump in the first year. The grey hairs will return to black in the second year. The teeth will grow back in the third year". Although it may sound disbelieving, Chinese Medicine believes that strong kidney qi and essence will allow a person to live healthily and strong to an old age. So from this perspective the black sesame is a must have health food!

When black sesame seeds are toasted it becomes more "drying" because the warmth property has been enhanced. It is therefore not suitable for people who have a "heat" type of constitution - so people with very hot palms or feet, flushed cheeks, or frequent dry mouth. It may cause mouth ulcers or toothaches from too much "heat" symptoms. Black sesame is high in fibre, therefore it is not recommended for people with chronic diarrhoea since it has a laxative effect.


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