Although sesame seed oil contains high levels of unsaturated fatty acids and even a small amount of free fatty acids in its unrefined flavored form, it shows markedly greater stability than other dietary vegetable oils. The good stability of sesame seed oil against autoxidation has been ascribed not only to its inherent lignans and tocopherols but also to browning reaction products generated when sesame seeds are roasted. Also, there is a strong synergistic effect among these components. The lignans in sesame seed oil can be categorized into two types, i.e. inherent lignans (sesamin, sesamolin) and lignans mainly formed during the oil production process (sesamol, sesamolinol, etc.). The most abundant tocopherol in sesame seed oil is γ-tocopherol. This article reviews the antioxidant activities of lignans and tocopherols as well as the browning reaction and its products in sesame seed and/or its oil. It is concluded that the composition and structure of browning reaction products and their impacts on sesame ingredients need to be further studied to better explain the remaining mysteries of sesame oil.
Keywords: Maillard reaction; antioxidant activity; lignans; sesame seed oil; tocopherols.
© 2014 Society of Chemical Industry.