Sesame seeds may only be 3-4mm long, but what they lack in size they more than make up for in health benefits. Sesame seeds are by no means a trendy new superfood either. In fact, they’re thought to be the oldest oilseed crop and have been cultivated for over 3,500 years. Believed to have originated in either Africa or Indonesia, sesame seeds are a popular ingredient in Asian, South American and African cooking. Below, we’re highlighting the health benefits of sesame seeds, revealing why it’s regarded as a ‘survivor crop’ and sharing some of our go-to sesame seed recipes. According to Assyrian legend, when the gods met to create the world, they drank wine made from sesame seeds. Cultivated for millennia and highly resilient, the plants produce pods that burst open when mature to reveal their tiny golden seeds. This is where the phrase “open sesame” comes from.
Sesame Seeds Benefits
The benefits of eating sesame seeds are tri-fold:
1. They’re super healthy
The health benefits of sesame seeds are well noted. They’re an excellent source of plant-based protein, which we need for the growth and repair of the body. Packed with dietary fibre, they can aid digestive health and reduce the chance of conditions like constipation. Sesame seeds also contain Omega-3 and magnesium, which may help to support good heart health and limit the risks of cardiovascular disease.
2. They’re very resilient
Considering their size, sesame seeds are an extremely resilient and high-yield crop. They’re able to withstand harsh growing conditions, including drought, and are resistant to many pests and diseases. They require little water to thrive and can grow well even in poor quality soil, hence them being dubbed a ‘survivor crop’. In fact, there’s plenty of advice available online around how to grow sesame seeds yourself at home. If you’re wondering “where do sesame seeds come from?”, you can read more about the plant itself and how the sesame seeds are harvested, here.
3. They add flavour to many dishes
As we mentioned above, sesame seeds are used in recipes from many different cultures and in a variety of ways. They can be toasted to enhance their flavour, pressed and used as a cooking oil or ground into pastes and sauces. Depending on whether they’re hulled or unhulled, toasted or raw, and the way in which they’re prepared, they can provide a range of rich and nutty flavours – not bad for such tiny seeds, right?! They’re also often added on top of dishes, or baked foods like American-style burger buns and breads, to add texture and crunch.
Sesame Seeds Nutritional Facts
A single serving of sesame seeds is equivalent to 3 tablespoons, or 30g. There are 172 calories in 30g sesame seeds, 5.3g protein, 7g of carbohydrates, 3.5g of fibre and 14g of fat. Sesame seeds are also rich in good fats (Omega-3s), antioxidants and essential minerals including phosphorus, iron and magnesium.
What Are the Different Types of Sesame Seeds?
There are different varieties of sesame seeds available. The most common types of sesame seeds are black and white, but golden brown and red sesame seeds are available. Each varies in flavour and suits different dishes. The difference between brown and black sesame seeds vs white, aside from their appearance, is that the darker seeds have a stronger, more distinguishable taste. White seeds have a milder, more delicate flavour, which is why you might notice that they’re more commonly used in baking, where their flavour isn’t too overbearing.
Sesame Seed Recipes
Sesame seeds can be used in many ways. Whether you’re looking for new recipe ideas or you’ve never cooked with sesame seeds, these sesame seed recipes are so good you’ll wonder why you’ve never tried them before!
- As a topping – Toasted or raw, try sprinkling sesame seeds over salads, soups, stir-fries and rice dishes as a garnish to complement the flavours and add crunch.
- Use to season – Shichimi Togarashi is a classic spicy Japanese seasoning blend used to add heat and flavour to soups, seafood and marinades. Try using the Knorr Taste of Japan Seasoning Blend – Shichimi Togarashi as a rub with meat or fish to spice up your mealtimes!
- Grind into tahini – Untoasted sesame seeds, oil and salt can be blended together in a food processor to make a smooth tahini paste. Tahini can be eaten on its own as a dip or dressing, but it’s also the key ingredient used to make another very popular Middle Eastern dip –hummus!
If you enjoyed this article, read more about our Future 50 Foods report – a list of 50 foods which are beneficial to our health and the health of the planet.