Sesame seeds nutrition facts
One of the first oil seeds known to humankind, sesame seeds are used in culinary as well as in traditional medicines for their nutritive, preventive, and curative properties. Its oil seeds are sources for some phyto-nutrients such as omega-6 fatty acids, flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants, vitamins and dietary fiber with potent anti-cancer as well as health promoting properties.
Sesame plant is a tall annual herb of the pedaliaceae family, which grows extensively in Asia, particularly in Burma, China, and India. It is also one of main commercial crops in Nigeria, Sudan and Ethiopia. Its scientific name: Sesamum indicum.
The plant requires well-drained sandy soil and tropical environment to flourish. It grows to about 5 feet tall and bears plenty of pink-white foxglove type flowers. The pods appear soon containing white, brown, or black seeds depending up on the cultivar type, arranged in rows inside. Each pod (2-5 cm in length) is a long rectangular box like capsule with deep grooves on its sides. A pod (1 to 3 in. in length) may contain up to 100 or more seeds.
Sesame seeds are small, almost oblate in shape featuring pleasant nutty flavor and high oil content.
Health benefits of sesame seeds
Delicious, crunchy sesame seeds are widely considered healthful foods. They are high in energy but contain many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for wellness.
The seeds are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acid oleic acid, which comprise up to 50% fatty acids in them. Oleic acid helps to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol" in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet which is rich in mono-unsaturated fats help to prevent coronary artery disease and stroke by favoring healthy lipid profile.
The seeds are also very good source of dietary proteins with fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth, especially in children. Just 100 g of seeds provide about 18 g of protein (32% of daily-recommended values).
In addition, sesame seeds contain many health benefiting compounds such as sesamol (3, 4-methylene-dioxyphenol), sesaminol, furyl-methanthiol, guajacol (2-methoxyphenol), phenylethanthiol and furaneol, vinylguacol and decadienal. Sesamol and sesaminol are phenolic anti-oxidants. Together, these compounds help stave off harmful free radicals from the body.
Sesame is amongst the seeds rich in quality vitamins and minerals. They are very good sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and riboflavin.
100 g of sesame contains 97 mcg of folic acid, about 25% of recommended daily intake. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis. When given in expectant mothers during peri-conception period, it may prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
Niacin is another B-complex vitamin found abundantly in sesame. About 4.5 mg or 28% of daily-required levels of niacin is provided by just 100 g of seeds. Niacin help reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn helps reduce anxiety and neurosis.
The seeds are incredibly rich sources of many essential minerals. Calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper are especially concentrated in sesame seeds. Many of these minerals have vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme synthesis, hormone production, as well as regulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.
Just a hand full of sesame a day provides enough recommended levels of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and protein.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||49.67 g||166%|
|Dietary Fiber||11.8 g||31%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.050 mg||1%|
|Vitamin A||9 IU||<1%|
|Vitamin E||0.25 mg||2%|
Selection and storage
Sesames are readily available in the spice stores all around the year. You may choose from whole, husked or air-dried seeds in the stores. There may be black, brown, yellow or white color seeds packed in air-seal packs as well as in bulk bins. Husked seeds appear white.
Sesame contain more of unsaturated fats hence should be stored in airtight containers to avoid them turn rancid. At home, place them in cool dark place. Properly stored dry seeds generally stay fresh for several months. Store hulled "white" seeds always in the refrigerator.
Avoid old rancid seeds.
Sesame seeds have delicate nutty flavor. Their flavor indeed becomes more pronounced once they are gently roasted under low flame just for few minutes.
Sesame seeds are used liberally in cooking to make a rich flavorful paste, which is then added to different cuisine.
Dry fried sesame seeds ground to a thin light brown color paste known as tahini. Tahini is one of the main ingredient in famous middle-eastern dip, hummus.
Dry fried seeds sprinkled over toasts, biscuits, breads, cakes, salads, stir fries etc.
The seeds are largely used in the manufacture of margarine in Europe.
The seeds used in many south-Indian sweet delicacies, often mixed with roasted peanuts, almonds, and jaggery.
Roasted and crushed nuts often sprinkled over salads, desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based preparations.
Gomashio is a Japan's specialty, which uses ground sesame seeds.
Sesame oil obtained from the seeds is one of the most sought after cooking oil in Malaysia, Indonesia and southern states of rural India.
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