Sesame seeds nutrition facts
One of the initial oil seeds known to humankind, sesame seeds have been widely employed in culinary as well as in traditional medicines for their nutritive, preventive, and curative properties. Sesame are an important sources of phyto-nutrients such as omega-6 fatty acids, flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants, vitamins, and dietary fiber with potential anti-cancer as well as health promoting properties.
Sesame plant requires well-drained sandy soil and tropical environment to flourish. It grows about 5 feet in height and bears plenty of pink-white foxglove type flowers. The pods appear soon containing white, brown, or black seeds depending upon the cultivar type, arranged in vertical rows inside thin sacs. Each pod (2-5 cm in length) is a long rectangular box like capsule with deep grooves on its sides. A single pod (1 to 2 inches in length) may contain up to 100 or more seeds.
Sesame seeds are small, almost oblate in shape. Toasted sesame feature pleasant, nutty flavoror.
Health benefits of sesame seeds
- Flavorful, crunchy sesame seeds are widely considered as healthy foods. 100 grams of seeds carry 573 calories. Although, much of its calorie comes from fats, sesame contains several notable health-benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.
- The seeds are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, which comprises of up to 50% of fatty acids in them. Oleic acid helps lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good cholesterol” in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet which is rich in mono-unsaturated fats may help prevent coronary artery disease, and stroke by favoring healthy serum lipid profile.
- The seeds are also very valuable sources of dietary protein 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).
- 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 human body.
- Sesame is among 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.
Selection and storage
Sesame seeds can be readily available in the spice stores all around the year. You may choose whole, husked or air-dried, toasted seeds in these stores. The seeds can be available in black, brown, yellow or white colors, packed inside air-seal packs as well as in bulk bins. Hulled seeds appear white.
Sesame composes of significant proportions of unsaturated fats, and hence, should be stored inside airtight containers to avoid them turn rancid. At home, place them in cool dark place. If stored properly, dry seeds generally stay fresh for several months. Store hulled “white” seeds always inside the refrigerator.
Avoid old, offensive smelling (rancid) seeds.
Sesame seeds feature delicate nutty flavor. Their flavor indeed becomes more pronounced once they gently toasted under low flame heat for a few minutes.
Sesame seeds used liberally in cooking. The seeds ground with olive or any other vegetable oils to prepare semi-solid, flavorful paste, which is then added to different recipes.
- Dry, toasted sesame seeds and vegetable oil are mixed into a thin light brown paste, tahini. Tahini is one of the main ingredients in famous middle-eastern dip, hummus.
- Toasted seeds sprinkled over sandwiches, biscuits, breads, cakes, salads, stir fries, etc.
- The seeds are largely employed in the production of margarine in Europe.
- The seeds used in many traditional south-Indian sweet delicacies, often mixed with roasted peanuts, almonds, and jaggery.
- Roasted and crushed seeds often sprinkled over salads, desserts, particularly sundaes and other confectionay preparations.