Sesame seeds are tiny light beige or black seeds made up of 55% oil and 45% protein Whole sesame seeds are commonly ground into a butter, called tahini, and has a nutty taste. Available roasted or raw but the healthiest choice would be tahini made out of just raw sesame seeds. Tahini should keep in a sealed jar in the refridgerator for a few weeks. Even if it is not refrigerated after opening, it will not go rancid because sesame seeds contain the natural preservatives sesamin and sesamol, which stabilise it.
Health Benefits of Tahini
There are two main types of tahini, hulled and unhulled. Hulled tahini does not contain as much calcium, protein and vitamins as unhulled. Raw tahini contains more nutrients than roasted tahini.
Tahini contains all the essential amino acids, making it a high quality protein, plus it is rich in calcium, lecithin and B vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15. B Vitamins play an essential part in the running of the body. They promote healthy cell growth and division, including that of red blood cells, which will help prevent anemia. They also support and increase the rate of metabolism, enhance immune and nervous system function as well as helping to maintain healthy skin and muscle tone. Recent studies have also shown that Vitamin B can help protect against one of the most deadly forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer, but only when consumed in food.
Calcium is an essential mineral for forming and maintaining healthy bones. “Our key finding is that higher total calcium intake is associated with a decreased risk of digestive system cancers,” said Dr. Yikyung Park, a cancer epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute. In fact the findings showed that high calcium intake was associated with a reduced overall cancer risk especially amongst women. Tahini has a higher concentration of calcium than any other food.
Tahini is easily digestible because its high alkaline mineral content neutralizes the acid end products of the protein. Because of its non-acid nature, tahini is an ideal protein source for people with weak digestive systems, invalids and young children, and is an excellent source of quick energy for active people and athletes. Tahini is also a good source of essential fatty acids (EFA), these EFA’s are used in helping to maintain healthy skin.
Tahini has a high calorie content due to the presence of sesame oil but the fat is unsaturated. It is a great source of vitamin E which helps to reduce the rate of ageing in body cells. Tahini is one of the highest sources of methionine, an essential amino acid, and also contains lecithin, which reduces the levels of fat in the blood and also protects against environmental toxins such as nicotine.
Tahini is very high in oil, over 50 percent. However, despite being high in fat, most of the oil is unsaturated fat, which is much healthier for the body.
Tahini is a useful food because of its healthful properties, pleasant taste and adaptability in recipes. It is a popular ingredient in raw food dishes.
Tahini’s versatility has made it very popular in the Middle East. In Turkey they mix tahini with pekmez, a jam like substance made from grapes, figs or mulberries. They usually prepare this mixture for breakfast, and it is especially popular during the winter time. In Iraq tahini is mixed with a date syrup and spread over bread as a sweet treat. But here in the west tahini is becoming ever more popular in prepacked sandwiches and as a substitute for peanut butter.
Tahini is the main ingredient in Hummus which originates from the Middle East and is made by using chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Hummus is now a common diet in Israel, Greece and Turkey. Hummus goes well with flat breads such as pitta bread. Another middle east dish that uses tahini is Baba Ganoush. This dish uses roasted Aubergine (egg plant), garlic, ground cumin, lemon juice and salt.
Add a little tahini to your sandwiches to keep you happy and healthy.