​​​​Is Sesame Oil Safe to Eat or Use During Pregnancy? 

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Commonly used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, sesame oil is a popular choice for fried rice, sautéed vegetables, or a delicious stir-fry. However, is sesame oil safe to consume during pregnancy?

Overall, sesame oil is safe to consume during pregnancy. However, use sesame oil in moderation as it is high in fat which can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and other health conditions. 

With many health benefits, sesame oil is an excellent choice for cooking during pregnancy, with some necessary considerations for safety. Read on to learn more about it! If you just want to learn about sesame seeds when pregnant instead, you’ll need our article here.

Is It Safe to Eat or Cook with Sesame Oil During Pregnancy? 

Sesame oil is commonly used when cooking or stir-frying Asian or Middle Eastern cuisine. It is also used as a topping or ingredient in many sauces, dressings, and more. You may even find it in fragrant soaps, lotions, and perfumes (source: Oklahoma State University). 

Overall, sesame oil is not only safe to consume during pregnancy, it is a very nutritious cooking oil with a delicious and nutty flavor. More on the nutritional benefits below! 

However, as with any oil, it is high in calories and fat and should be used in small amounts. 

sesame oil and seeds on a wooden table

Additionally, it can be found in multiple varieties, including toasted sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil is a beautiful and rich amber color. 

Toasted sesame oil should not be used for cooking as it burns quickly and very easily, even at low temperatures (source: Oklahoma State University). Therefore, use toasted sesame oil in dressings, sauces, and as a flavoring, rather than for stir-fries, sautéeing, and cooking. 

On the other hand, the pale yellow sesame oil variation has gone through many stages of refinement and is more suitable for cooking as it can handle high temperatures, without burning. 

Is Sesame Oil Beneficial During Pregnancy?

Sesame oil is a nutritious product to use during pregnancy. It is rich in vitamins and minerals that are especially important during pregnancy, including omega-6 fatty acids. However, overall, it is high in calories and fat and should be used in small amounts, limited to just a few tablespoons. 

Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that has favorable effects on the heart and cardiovascular system. Consuming omega-6 fatty acids in place of saturated fats, such as butter, palm oil, or coconut oil, can protect against heart disease (source: Mayo Clinic). 

On the flip side, sesame oil does contain small amounts of saturated fat. In a one-tablespoon serving of sesame oil (which is approximately 14 grams), it has about two grams of saturated fat (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]). 

Therefore, use small amounts of oil to limit saturated fat consumption while cooking. Using less oil when cooking can also help reduce excessive caloric intake. 

Additionally, sesame oil is rich in beneficial antioxidants, such as sesaminol and sesamol (source: Journal of Medicinal Food). Antioxidants are compounds in many foods that protect the cells in the body against harmful free radicals that are naturally produced. 

These antioxidants are associated with decreased inflammation in the arteries and lower the risk of chronic heart disease, including atherosclerosis and high blood pressure (source: Journal of Medicinal Food). 

During pregnancy, antioxidants are very important since stress is placed on the cells in the body as the placenta and baby develops (source: Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity). 

Sesame oil also contains very small, or trace, amounts of vitamin E and vitamin K.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that also functions in reproduction, blood and brain health, and supports healthy vision (source: Mayo Clinic). Vitamin E protects against cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s disease, preeclampsia, and prostate cancer.

Vitamin K is important in healthy blood clotting, supporting strong bones, and so much more (source: National Institutes of Health). 

However, even with all the health benefits, as with any fat or oil, consume sesame oil in moderation to avoid excessive fat and calories. 

A balanced diet during pregnancy should contain fats, however the majority should be healthy fats such as sesame oil. 

steamed wonton dumplings with sesame oil sauce

Can I Use Sesame Oil Topically During Pregnancy?

While many wonder about sesame oils’ culinary uses and safety, you may want to use sesame oil as a topical oil for a massage or even to manage stretch marks. 

Using sesame as a topical oil is likely safe, and research even supports its possible effectiveness for reducing inflammation and preventing skin cancer (source: International Journal of Molecular Sciences). 

With so much confusion surrounding sesame and sesame oil, I hope you found this article helpful in uncovering the facts about the safety of sesame oil during pregnancy.