Sesame Seeds are well known throughout North America for their great flavor and aesthetically pleasing topping to many of our favorite breads.
The tiny seeds grow in a pod found on the flowering plant Sesamum indicum and are full of healthy nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, calcium, vitamin E, manganese and fiber.
The largest producers of sesame are Tanzania, Myanmar, India, and Sudan, so it is also a popular and essential ingredient in many Middle Eastern cuisines. Sesame seeds can be made into tahini paste, which is used in various ways, including hummus and the Middle Eastern halvah confection.
In addition to their tastiness, sesame seeds pack a variety of health benefits.
Great source of vegan protein
For every ounce, sesame seeds have 4.7 grams of protein, which is great news for vegetarians that want to keep up their protein intake. Many vegan dishes include sesame for this reason.
Help to Lower Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
In a Taiwanese study in 2006, postmenopausal women who took 2 oz of sesame powder per day for 5 weeks had a 10% reduction in bad cholesterol. In another study, white seeds were used at 1.5 oz per day for 60 days and it was concluded that sesame seeds are successful in lowering cholesterol levels.
At least 3 studies state that sesame oil can lower blood pressure. This may be due to the higher levels of magnesium in sesame seeds.
Relieve Pain from Osteoarthritis
An article from Berkeley Wellness states that – “In a small Iranian study in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases in 2013, people with knee osteoarthritis who added 1½ ounces (about 4 tablespoons) of powdered sesame seeds a day to their usual treatment (acetaminophen and glucosamine) for two months reported greater pain relief than those just on their usual treatment. The article said that the seeds may also:
Help Fight Oxidative Stress
“Seven clinical trials concluded that sesame seeds reduce markers of oxidative stress among people with hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. In particular, sesame seeds raise blood levels of antioxidants (including vitamin E) and enzymes (like glutathione peroxidase) that protect against oxidative damage associated with some chronic diseases.”
All the health benefits of sesame can give us good reason to contemplate two very interesting stories. “Open Sesame” has become one of the world’s most popular “magical” phrases, thanks to the story of Aladdin. There is also another lessor known old story of how the Roman legions kept sesame seeds in their pockets for energy and strength during their long marches. Just imagine the powers of the tiny sesame seed!