Sesame seeds are high-nutritive, easily accessible and inexpensive food with many health benefits. When roasted, they have a tasty, nutty flavour, similar to almonds.
Surprising Facts about Sesame seeds
- According to Wikipedia, the world harvested 6.2 million metric tonnes of sesame seeds in 2014, with Tanzania, India, and Sudan as the largest producers.
- Archeological findings indicate that sesame seeds are the oldest oilseed crop known to humanity. Records from Babylon and Assyria, dating about 4000 years ago, mention sesame.
- In ancient Egypt sesame seeds were used as a medicinal drug.
- Sesame has a nickname “survivor crop” because it can grow where no other crops grow: in drought conditions, in high heat, at the edge of deserts, when rains fail or when rains are excessive. It needs little farming support.
- Sesame seeds are protected by a capsule which only bursts when the seeds are completely ripe. It happens suddenly with a sharp pop. Maybe, the magical command “Open Sesame” from the story of Ali Baba and the forty thieves came from that fact?
Sesame Seeds Nutritional Value
Sesame seeds are nutrient-dense. They are composed of 23% carbohydrates (including 12% dietary fiber), 50% fat, 18% protein, and 5% water. Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. Whole sesame seeds are a powerhouse of many essential minerals, especially iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc (20% or more of the Daily Value). Like flax seeds, they are rich in lignans. Sesame seeds are naturally gluten-free and cholesterol free.
(*Percent Daily Value (%DV) is a guide to the nutrients in one serving of food. For example, 40% for protein means that one serving provides 40% of the protein you need each day. It helps you make informed food choices. DVs are based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults.)
What Makes Sesame Seeds Different?
- Sesame seeds are the second best (after flaxseeds) source of lignans that protect from different types of cancer.
- The seeds are low in carb.
- Sesame seeds have a low glycemic index that is beneficial for people with insulin resistance such as Type 2 diabetes.
- The seeds are an excellent plant source of zinc: a serving of 100g provides 82% daily value of it. Dietary zinc improve men’s health
- Sesame seeds are very rich in dietary iron providing 112% of its daily value. Iron is responsible for hemoglobin and red blood cells production.
7 Health Benefits of Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds possess a unique mixture of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that may help:
- Protect from cancer: After flax seeds, sesame seeds are the second best source of lignans that have anti-cancer properties.
- Fight free radicals: Sesame seeds contain phytates, a cancer-preventing compound that functions as an antioxidant and reduces the effects of free radicals, which are connected to various forms of cancer. Also, phytic acid functions as a phosphorus and energy store.
- Improve men’s health: Sesame seeds are loaded with zinc that is required for the function of over 300 enzymes. Zinc improves testosterone and sperm production, prostate health, and sex drive.
- Have anti-diabetic effects: The seeds have a very low glycemic index. A lower glycemic response usually equates to a lower insulin demand and can improve long-term blood glucose control and blood lipids.
- Increase hemoglobin level: Sesame seeds are a rich source of dietary iron that increases hemoglobin and blood red cells production.
- Lower bad cholesterol: Some studies suggest that sesame seeds may reduce total and LDL-cholesterol in the blood due to a mix of health-beneficial nutrients (fiber, phytosterols, lignans, vitamins and minerals).
- Promote healthy digestion: Sesame seeds are rich in fiber that promotes regular bowl movements.
Health Risks of Sesame Seeds
Like other nuts and seeds, sesame seeds:
- may trigger allergic reactions in some people
- must be eaten with moderation
Some people believe that sesame seeds can lead to a miscarriage in pregnant women. It is a misconception. There is no scientific proof to suggest that sesame seeds are unsafe during pregnancy.
Sesame Seeds for Vegans
Sesame seeds are one of the best plant sources of zinc and iron with all their health benefits.
How Many Sesame Seeds Can You Eat Per Day?
One or two tablespoons per day are often recommended (one ounce = 28g = 2 tablespoons).
How to Eat Sesame Seeds?
With a rich, nutty flavour, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world. Sesame seeds can be used in many meals, baking goods and candies. They are also great for making your own sesame butter at home.