Sesame Seeds - Tiny Package And Powerful Punch!

(This is guest post from our friend, Hayley Adams - MSN)

There are many reasons to love sesame seeds. These tiny seeds are prized for their delicate, nutty flavor, and sweet little crunch they add to foods. These tiny powerhouses offer amazing health benefits when included as part of a whole food diet. Two special phytosterols (plant chemicals) found in sesame seeds (sesamin & sesamolin) have been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol profiles, increase immune function, and decrease the risk of certain cancers.

Different Colors?

With sesame seeds coming in a variety of colors, you may be wondering if there is a significant difference in the health promoting qualities from different colored seeds? I often ponder these strange questions, so I decided to do a bit of research to see what I could find on this matter. Seed coat colors exist naturally in black and white, and variations in color are the result of hybridization or cross-pollination of these two dominant varieties. Seed coat colors are thought to offer protection and disease resistance to the plant. This mixing of plant seeds has resulted in a range of colors from white to black with shades of brown, yellow, and red in between. Black seeds have a higher ash and carbohydrate content, while white seeds are higher in protein and oil content.

Health Benefits

The main health promoting properties of sesame are found in the oils, proteins and lignans (fiber) of the seed. Studies looking into the health properties of black vs. white seed varieties have shown that black seeds have superior antioxidant and anti-aging properties over the white varieties. Compounds in black sesame seeds can aid detoxification processes in the liver. They can bind with heavy metal toxins, which make them more readily available for elimination by the body. Regardless of seed color, all sesame seeds offer important nutrients. Chemical compounds present in sesame seeds act as powerful antioxidants to neutralize free radical scavengers that cause cellular damage. Diets low in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices are lacking in these vitally important antioxidants that help to combat certain metabolic disorders like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, Type II diabetes and cancer.

Nutrient Profile 
Serving size ¼ cup (% DV grams)
Calories 206
Protein 13%
Carbohydrates 4%
Healthy Fats 17.8g
**Copper 163% *Iron 29% *Zinc 25%
Beneficial Fiber 17%
(Key--**excellent source, *good source)

This form of fiber, known as lignans, have been shown to be protective to the heart and to lower blood pressure. Their importance in vegetarian and vegan diets should not be overlooked, as they are a good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, molybdenum and selenium. 

Selection & Storage

Sesame seeds come pre-packaged or can be found in bulk bins at your local food store. The oils in sesame seeds can go rancid so only buy what you will consume in the upcoming weeks and month. If buying in bulk bins, take a good whiff to make sure they have a fresh smell (not like rancid oil). It they are in whole seed form, they can be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark place (cabinet or pantry). If they are ground (hulls removed), they should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. My favorite ways to enjoy sesame seeds:

  • Add them to gluten free breads, muffins and cookies.
  • Grind them in a coffee grinder and add to smoothies or sprinkle over salads.
  • Sprinkle lightly toasted sesame seeds over veggies like steamed broccoli with lemon juice.
  • Use tahini (sesame seed paste) in sauces and spreads.
  • Garnish Indian foods and Asian inspired dishes with a mixture of black and white sesame seeds.
  • Sprinkle over homemade kale-chips before baking.