Sesame Seeds (Black & White)
Sesame seeds are one of the oldest seeds known to humankind. These mini seeds have been widely used for culinary purposes.
In addition to their nutritive qualities, they have been used in traditional medicines as they possess high preventive and curative properties.
Sesame seeds are an excellent source of phytonutrients which include omega-6 fatty acids, flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants, vitamins and dietary fibre.
The sesame plant is a tall annual herb belonging to the Pedaliaceae family. This plant grows extensively in Asia, particularly in China, Myanmar and India. It has become one of the chief commercial crops in Sudan, Ethiopia and Nigeria.
The sesame plant requires well-drained sandy soils and a tropical environment to be able to thrive. It can reach a height of about 5 feet. It produces many pink-white foxglove-like flower after which pods appear soon. These pods contain white, brown, or black seeds depending upon the type which is cultivated. These are arranged in vertical rows inside thin sacs.
Each pod (measuring about 2-5 cm in length) resembles a long rectangular box, or similar to a capsule on each side of which are deep grooves. Each pod measures about 1 to 2 inches in length. Each of these pods may contain up to 100 seeds and often, more.
Sesame seeds are small and almost oblate in shape. When lightly toasted, the sesame gives off a fragrant, very pleasant aroma and flavour.
The health benefits of sesame seeds
- Sesame seeds are one of my favourite seeds! They are extremely flavourful and make a pleasant crunchy ‘pop’ when eaten! 100 grams of seeds contain approximately 573 calories. Although the majority of its caloric content comes from fats, the small sesame seed contains several essential health-benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.
- Sesame seeds are very rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid. These account for 50% of the fatty acids.
- Sesame seeds are also valuable sources of dietary protein. They are endowed with fine quality amino acids, which can help spurt growth in children. Just 100 g of seeds provide about 18 g of protein (32% of daily recommended values).
- Sesame seeds contain many health enhancing compounds including sesamol (3, 4-methylene-dioxyphenol), sesaminol, furyl-methanthiol, guaiacol (2-methoxyphenol), phenyl ethanthiol and furaneol, vinyl guacol, and decadienal. Sesamol and sesaminol are phenolic anti-oxidants. Working together synergistically, these compounds collectively help stave off harmful free radicals in the internal human environment.
- Sesame seeds are one of the seeds richest in quality vitamins, and minerals. They are excellent sources of B-complex vitamins including niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and riboflavin.
- 100 g of sesame contains 97 µg of folic acid; this is about 25% of recommended daily intake. Folic acid is an essential for DNA synthesis. Expectant mothers should include folic acid in their daily nutrient-intake during their peri-conception period. Such a precautionary measure may prevent neural tube defects in their newborn later.
- Niacin is another B-complex vitamin which is abundant in the sesame seed. 100g of sesame seeds contain approximately 4.5 mg or 28% of the daily requirement of niacin. Niacin helps enhance GABA activity inside the brain, such action which in turn helps to reduce stress, anxiety and neurosis.
- Sesame seeds are incredibly rich sources of essential minerals: calcium, selenium, magnesium, iron, manganese and copper. Many of these minerals play a vital role in bone mineralization, enzyme synthesis, hormone production, red blood cell production, as well as regulation the of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.
Don’t underestimate the nutritional value of these precious, small seeds. Just a handful of these daily fulfills the recommended levels of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, and protein. Sesame seeds are one of the highest foods with an exceptional magnesium content.
Sesame seeds give a delicate nutty flavour to your dishes. Their flavour and pleasant smell augment once they are gently toasted over very low heat for a minute or two.
You can use sesame seeds quite liberally in cooking. You can ground the seeds with olive or any other aromatic first cold-pressed oils to prepare semi-solid, flavourful pastes, which you can then add to your other recipes.
- Tahini: Mix dry, toasted sesame seeds and first, cold pressed olive oil mixed into a thin light brown paste. Tahini originates from the Middle East, and is one of the main backbones of the dishes of this region. It is also used in the famous middle-eastern dip, hummus. However, we do not cook with chickpeas here on this site. They are highly inflammatory.
- Sprinkle lightly toasted seeds over your salads and stir fries.
- In India and Pakistan, sesame seeds are known as “til”. They are often added to many traditional Indian sweets.
- Gomashio is a much-loved Japanese condiment, the base of which is ground sesame seeds.
- Sesame oil is one of the staple oils in Chinese cooking. It is used here mostly as a flavouring oil, not for heat-cooking but for adding flavour to a dish before serving, as it is very aromatic.
Sesame seed allergy may affect certain individuals. These allergic reactions include hives, dermatitis, and itching. In certain instances, the resulting manifestation may be severe; in such instances, the afflicted individual may experience physical symptoms like vomiting, stomach pain, swelling of lips and throat leading to breathing difficulty, chest congestion, and even death. If you have a nut allergy, it is best to avoid sesame seeds to stay on the side of caution.