Does Sesamin Help Promote Fat Loss?

As I mentioned last week I have moved onto fat loss supplements. This week we will be taking a closer look at a less commonly known supplement called sesamin. Sesamin is a lignan derived from sesame seeds. Sesamin is the most prominent lignan compound found in sesame seeds, one of the two largest sources of lignans in the human diet behind only flax.

Sesamin is known for being a powerful antioxidant. The reason why many believe sesamin helps support fat loss is because it supposedly increases the activity of liver enzymes that break down fatty acids. If sesamin can help the liver’s fat-burning capacity, it could potentially help promote fat loss and maybe even decrease the body’s fat storage capacity. The real question is, does research support this?

Unfortunately there is limited research on sesamin in humans, and by limited I mean absolutely nothing. At least not that I could find regarding fat loss. Although I did find it interesting that there is research supporting the use of sesamin for antihypertensive effects in humans. (1) For potential fat loss, however, all we have to go on is research done on rodents.

Research out of Tokyo looked at the effect of dietary fat levels and sesamin on polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism in rats. They examined the effects of sesamin and vegetable oil on the concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acid and lipids as well as beta-oxidation enzyme activities in rat liver. They were fed either a low or high fat (5% or 20%) salad oil with or without sesamin for 4 weeks. In the high fat diet groups, the rats who received sesamin decreased concentrations of linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid and polyunsaturated fatty acid to almost the same level as the low-fat diet group. (2)

Research by Ashakumary et al. (1999) looked at the effects of sesamin as an inducer of hepatic fatty acid oxidation in rats. When sesamin was at .5% sesamin, mitochondrial activity almost doubled and hepatic activity of fatty acid oxidation enzymes were significantly increased. (3)

Last week we looked at CLA and discovered there is potential for it to be used for promoting fat loss. There is research that looked at combining CLA and sesamin to help boost the fat-burning effects of CLA. Research by Sugano et al. (2001) looked at the potential of increasing its effectiveness by combining CLA with different proteins, fats and sesamin in rats for 3 or 4 weeks. They discovered sesamin helped stimulate the loss of adipose tissue. They thought it could be because they stimulate a pathway of fatty acid breakdown called beta-oxidation. (4)

In similar research by Sakono et al. (2002) they once again looked at combining CLA and sesamin. They found that while the combination had no effect on adipose tissue weight, triglycerides were reduced. Enhanced fatty acid oxidation in the liver could be responsible for the triglyceride lowering effect from the combination of CLA and sesamin. (5)

So there is some research out there to make me think about sesamin, but personally it’s not enough for me. I’m putting sesamin on the “wait and see? list. I’d like to see a lot more research, specifically on humans before I’d give it the stamp of approval. I’m not saying I think it does or doesn’t work, I just think it’s far too inconclusive. From potential fat loss, improved cholesterol, improved kidney and liver health, reduced blood pressure and being a strong antioxidant there are a lot of claims from the supplement. Whether it’s all true at this point is anybody’s guess.

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This article was researched and written by Colin DeWaay

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