Rich in calcium, sesame seeds boast many numerous properties. Discover all the benefits of sesame seeds, how to use them in the kitchen, where to find them and how to store them in the most appropriate way.
Sesame seeds are oil seeds rich in beneficial properties, quite common in our kitchen, especially as a condiment for bread or other baked goods. The scientific name is Sesamun indicum.
The sesame plant is currently grown mainly in India, China and Burma, but is also found in Greece and in some areas of Southern Italy. What are its nutritional properties? Let’s find out below.
Sesame seeds: calories and nutritional values
Sesame seeds are oil seeds, considered one of the main vegetable sources of calcium and are therefore useful for strengthening bones and teeth. They also contain magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, selenium, zinc and a good amount of vegetable proteins.
They also contain folic acid and other B-complex vitamins, as well as good amounts of fiber and mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically oleic acid and linoleic acid. As for the energy intake, sesame seeds are quite caloric: 100 grams, in fact, provide 573 calories. We see below the table with the nutritional values of sesame seeds.
Nutritional values per 100g of sesame seeds:
- Waterfall: 4.69 g
- kcal: 573
- Proteins: 17.73 g
- Fat: 49.67 g
- of which saturated: 6.96 g
- Carbohydrates: 23.45 g
- of which sugars: 0.3 g
- Fibers: 11.8 g
- Soccer: 975 mg
- Phosphorus: 629 mg
- Glycemic index: 35
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Sesame seeds: the benefits
The presence of minerals, vitamins, good fats and fibers gives sesame seeds useful properties for cardiovascular and intestinal health, but not only. Let’s explore all the benefits of these oil seeds below.
✓ Benefits for the heart
As we have seen above, sesame seeds contain unsaturated fatty acids, the so-called “good fats”, which help to keep LDL (“bad”) cholesterol under control, helping to increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Consumption of sesame seeds has also been associated with lowering blood triglyceride levels.
Furthermore, they are considered a panacea for cardiovascular health also thanks to the content of magnesium, lignans, vitamins E and phytosterols, substances that help control blood pressure values and avoid the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
✓ Benefits for the bones
Thanks to the high calcium content, they also offer benefits for bone health. However, sesame seeds contain natural compounds called oxalates and phytates, antinutrients that reduce the absorption of minerals. To limit the presence of these compounds, it may be useful to soak the seeds or roast them or make them sprout. In particular, one study found that sprouting reduces the concentration of phytate and oxalate by about 50%.
✓ Anti-inflammatory effect
Sesame seeds have a good anti-inflammatory effect, useful for preventing the so-called chronic low-grade inflammation, that is, an inflammatory state, not manifest, which can lead to the formation of numerous typical pathologies of our age. To prevent it, it is useful to consume foods with anti-inflammatory power and, among these, sesame seeds could also be included, thanks to the content of antioxidants and sesamine, a compound present in sesame seeds and their oil.
✓ Benefits in case of hyperglycemia or diabetes
Sesame seeds mainly contain fiber and good fats, elements that help keep the glycemic index of meals low. So, adding sesame seeds to recipes can be a good strategy to lower their glycemic index. Additionally, these seeds contain a substance called pinoresinol, which can help regulate blood sugar by inhibiting the action of the digestive enzyme maltase. Specifically, this enzyme is used to break down maltose sugar, a disaccharide made up of two glucose molecules. If pinoresinol inhibits the digestion of maltose, this can lead to a delay in its assimilation and therefore a lowering of blood sugar levels.
✓ Support the immune system
Sesame seeds are a good source of zinc, a mineral that is important for proper functioning and support of the immune system.
✓ Benefits for the intestine
We have seen that sesame seeds are a good source of fiber, essential elements for the health of the intestine and intestinal bacterial flora. In particular, 30 grams of sesame seeds (about 3 tablespoons) provide about 3.5 grams of fiber which is equivalent to about 12% of the recommended daily requirement. Furthermore, the oil obtained from the seeds seems to have useful effects in regulating the intestine.
✓ Benefits for the thyroid
Sesame seeds are a good source of selenium, a very important mineral for the proper functioning of the thyroid. In particular, this mineral plays a vital role in the production of thyroid hormones. Furthermore, the presence of iron, copper, zinc and vitamins B6 also supports the production of thyroid hormones. For this it can be useful to eat sesame seeds also in order to prevent thyroid problems, such as, for example, hypothyroidism.
✓ Benefits for skin and hair
From sesame seeds an oil is obtained which is used for the health of the organism and the beauty of the person; for example, it is useful against dandruff and for the well-being of the skin. It can also be used on the hair, in order to moisturize it and make it brighter.
White sesame and black sesame: what’s the difference?
Native to Asian countries, sesame (Sesamum indicum) is a herbaceous plant of remote origins. Interestingly, this plant can produce white colored seeds and black colored seeds. Both varieties of seeds are mostly made up of unsaturated fatty acids, while also containing a good amount of protein and fiber. Both are also poor in water. Both white and black seeds are sources of various micronutrients, among which some vitamins (vitamin E and B vitamins) and some minerals (calcium and iron, but also phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc and selenium) stand out.
The two varieties of seeds differ mainly in flavor, which is more intense and aromatic for black seeds, while it is more delicate for white seeds. The latter are easier to find at points of sale, while to buy black seeds it is preferable to go to “organic” shops, online channels and herbalists.
How many grams of sesame seeds per day?
A standard serving of oil seeds, and therefore also of sesame seeds, is about 15-20 grams, which corresponds to about 1 and a half tablespoons, 2 tablespoons. We remind you, however, that this value can change if we are following a low-calorie or high-calorie diet.
How to use sesame seeds
The best known use of sesame seeds involves incorporating them into recipes for bread sticks, bread, crackers and other baked goods. It is also the main ingredient of a Sicilian dessert, giurgiulena, a particular type of crunchy. But sesame seeds can be used in many other different ways, for example:
- To dress salads;
- To prepare rich muesli, along with oilseeds, dried fruit and whole grains;
- To obtain tasty breading;
- To enrich rice, soups and soups.
Toasted and combined with sea salt, they give rise to gomasio, a powdered ingredient that can replace salt. Finally, with sesame seeds we can also prepare tahini sauce, a traditional sauce of Turkish cuisine.
How are sesame seeds stored?
To prevent sesame seeds from deteriorating, it is advisable to store them in hermetically sealed containers, away from direct light and heat sources, in a cool and not humid place. In the manner indicated, they can be kept for a few months and in any case no later than the expiration date indicated on the package.
Contraindications of sesame seeds
Sesame seeds, if taken in moderation and if there are no allergies, have no particular contraindications. If consumed in excess they can have laxative effects. Furthermore, since they are quite caloric foods, it is good to limit their consumption in a weight loss diet. Sometimes they are recommended as supplements in children’s diets, to promote growth and restorative qualities. However, they should not be introduced into the diet before the age of two.
Where sesame seeds are bought
Sesame seeds can be purchased in most supermarkets and even many discount stores. In reality, however, it would be advisable to contact organic producers or a herbalist who can provide a product obtained without the use of pesticides and naturally preserved. There are several varieties of sesame seeds; those commonly on the market in our country are white sesame seeds but, as we have seen above, there is also black sesame on the market, a variety with a more marked flavor with the same nutritional characteristics.