Olive oil and sesame oil are both commonly used in cuisines worldwide. Olive oil offers a mild, often fruity essence and is a staple in Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Sesame oil has a stronger, almost smoky flavor and is popular in Asian cuisine. Each oil offers its own nutrient profile.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Per tablespoon, sesame and olive oils supply about 120 calories of pure fat. But with the fat comes certain vitamins, like vitamin E and K. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, and it also helps boost immunity and prevent blood clots, according to the National Institutes of Health. Vitamin K assists with blood clotting. Sesame oil has .19 mg of vitamin E and 1.8 micrograms of vitamin K, while olive oil has 1.94 milligrams of vitamin E and 8.1 micrograms of vitamin K.
Both oils have monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, known as "good" fats for their ability to lower cholesterol levels, stabilize heart patterns and combat inflammation. The United States Department of Agriculture confirms sesame oil reduces cholesterol, while Harvard reports lower rates of breast cancer in women who consume olive oil. Comparatively, olive oil has 9.85 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 1.42 grams of monounsaturated fat per tablespoon, while sesame oil has about 5.5 grams of each.
Cholesterol is found only in animal products like meats, eggs and dairy products, so using either olive or sesame oil is favorable over cholesterol-laden animal fats. High cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries which can lead to heart disease. The National Institutes of Health notes saturated fat and dietary cholesterol raises blood cholesterol, and reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level.
Every oil has a smoke point, the temperature at which it burns. The lower the smoke point, the less favorable for cooking. Cooking oils past their smoke point can also produce unhealthy trans fats, diminishing their health benefits. Since unrefined sesame oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees F and extra virgin olive oil smokes at 406 degrees F, these oils can be used in cooking, but they may burn if you are using a high-heat cooking method such as pan-searing.
- United States Department of Agriculture: Oil and Fatty Acid Content Among Diverse Sesame Genetic Resources
- United States Department of Agriculture: Molecular Biology Provides Clues to Health Benefits of Olive Oil
- 3 Fat Chicks On A Diet: Sesame Oil vs Olive Oil -- Better Options for Healthy Cooking
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol - The Bottom Line
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good
- National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: High Blood Cholesterol -- What You Need To Know
- United States of Agriculture: Basic Report -- 04053, Oil, Olive, Salad or Cooking
- United States of Agriculture: Basic Report -- 04058, Oil, Sesame, Salad or Cooking
- National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- Medline: Vitamin K