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The Benefits & Uses of Sesame Seeds

by
author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
The Benefits & Uses of Sesame Seeds
White and black sesame seeds on top of pumpkin soup. Photo Credit KaarinaS/iStock/Getty Images

If all the sesame seeds you consume come from the top of your burger bun, you are missing out. Sesame seeds provide a number of nutritional benefits. They also add a distinctive, nutty flavor to dishes and baked goods. Use sesame seeds in your food to benefit from healthy fats, protein, fiber and a whole lot more.

Nutrition

Sesame seeds are a source of many of the B vitamins, which are essential to red blood cell health, energy and food metabolism. Sesame seeds also contain a number of minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium. These minerals support bone health, red blood cell development and function, a strong immune system and fluid balance.

Healthy Fats

Sprinkle sesame seeds over steamed vegetables or a low-fat stir fry to add crunch and healthy fat. A 1-oz. serving of sesame seeds contains 13 g of fat, but only 2 g of these are unhealthy saturated fats. The rest of the fat in sesame seeds is unsaturated fat, which may help lower cholesterol levels when used instead of saturated fat. Fats can also make food more satisfying as it imparts a mouthfeel and takes longer to digest.

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Protein

Sesame seeds contain 5 g of protein in 1 oz. Sesame seeds are a appropriate for vegetarians looking to add more protein to their meals. Mixing tahini, ground sesame seed paste, with chickpeas, olive oil and lemon juice makes a dip known as hummus -- a protein source that contains all the essential amino acids your body cannot produce on its own.

Phytosterols

Among the most commonly eaten seeds and nuts in the American diet, sesame seeds contain the highest number of plant phytosterols. Phytosterols are compounds found naturally in plants that help inhibit the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Phytosterols may also help reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer. According to a 2005 study in the "Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry," sesame seeds had the highest total phytosterol content of all the nuts and seeds studied.

Uses

Sesame seeds have numerous applications in addition to topping breads and buns, mixing into salads and stir fries and making hummus. Add sesame seeds to sushi rolls. Crust tuna or other fish with a combination of white and black sesame seeds and then sear. The Greeks use sesame seeds to make cakes and in Africa, sesame seeds are a primary ingredient in a sweet cookie. Sweet and savory Asian recipes from Japan, Korea and China often call for sesame seeds.

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References

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