Sesame seeds have been used throughout history as both a food source and for sesame seed oil. Sprinkling sesame seeds on breads before baking is not new, as one ancient Egyptian tomb dating back 4000 years is decorated with a scene of a baker sprinkling sesame seeds into his dough, while Sicilian bakers did the same centuries ago.
Some of the benefits
Sesame seeds are considered to be full of health benefits as they are high in energy while full of many nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins so essential for wellness.
And there is more! Sesame seeds are
- Especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acid oleic acid which is useful for helping to lower LDL or 'bad cholesterol' while increasing HDL or 'good cholesterol' in the blood.
- A very good source of dietary proteins with fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth, especially in children.
- Containing many compounds that are beneficial to good health such as sesamol, sesaminol, furyl-methanthiol, guajacol, phenylethanthiol, furaneol, vinylguacol and decadienal. Sesamol and sesaminol are phenolic antioxidants and combined, these help to prevent harmful free radicals. They are also part of a group of fibers called lignans which help reduce cholesterol while sesamolin protects the liver from oxidative damage.
- Rich in quality vitamins and very good sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamine, pyridoxine and riboflavin. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis while niacin helps reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, Niacin reduces anxiety and neurosis.
- Rich sources of many essential minerals especially calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium and copper which play a vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme synthesis, hormone production as well as regulation of the cardiac and skeletal muscle activities. In particular, copper renders a reduction in swelling and pain associated with arthritis, providing benefits to the inflammatory systems. Magnesium offers relief to those suffering from asthma attacks while reducing migraines and lowering blood pressure. Calcium can help to reduce bone loss while preventing migraines.
How much do you need?
Just a handful of sesame seeds a day will provide the recommended levels of phenolic antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and protein.
And they taste good too!
Those unfamiliar with sesame seeds are surprised that a tiny, flat seed has such depth of flavor. In its raw form, it is frequently described as delicately sweet and nutty. When toasted it has a roasted peanut flavor. Delicious when ground in hummus, whole sesame seeds add richness to crackers, provide a good topping for homemade bread and rolls, and a crunchy taste to homemade sesame crackers.
More ways to use sesame seeds!
- Include sesame seeds in muffin and pancake batters
- When cooking chicken and vegetables, add hulled sesame seeds
- Sprinkle whole sesame seeds over vegetables such as carrots or broccoli
- Toast sesame seeds and add to rice dishes or salads
- Sesame seed oil can be added to stir-fry for a nutty flavor
Try to purchase "natural" sesame seeds - those that are unhulled
The hulls act as a protective coating to prevent rancidity and keep the oil more stable. You can recognize natural sesame seeds by their mottled beige coloring and they should be less expensive in their natural form because they require no processing. You will be most likely to find them in health food stores.