Sesame seeds, also known by their scientific name Sesamum indicum, are tiny, oil-rich seeds that come from the Sesamum genus of the Pedaliaceae family. They are one of the oldest known crops in the world and have been cultivated for thousands of years, particularly in tropical regions of Asia and Africa. Sesame seeds are an important source of oil and are used in a variety of culinary and medicinal applications.
The sesame plant is an annual herb that can grow up to 6 feet tall, with narrow, lance-shaped leaves and tubular, bell-shaped flowers that can be white, pink, or purple. The flowers give way to small, oblong seed pods that contain the sesame seeds.
The seeds themselves are small, oval-shaped, and have a hard outer coat that is typically tan or black in color. Sesame seeds are rich in oil, protein, and minerals, and are used to make sesame oil, tahini, and a variety of baked goods and savory dishes.
Sesame seeds are small, oil-rich seeds that are a rich source of nutrients. Here is the nutritional information for 1 ounce (28 grams) of sesame seeds:
Protein: 5 grams
Carbohydrates: 7 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
Fat: 14 grams
Saturated Fat: 2 grams
Monounsaturated Fat: 6 grams
Polyunsaturated Fat: 5 grams
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 30 milligrams
Omega-6 Fatty Acids: 5156 milligrams
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 15% of the RDI
Vitamin B6: 10% of the RDI
Folate: 7% of the RDI
Iron: 23% of the RDI
Magnesium: 25% of the RDI
Zinc: 13% of the RDI
Copper: 57% of the RDI
Manganese: 97% of the RDI
Phosphorus: 35% of the RDI
Selenium: 6% of the RDI
Sesame seeds are an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. They are also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce inflammation and support overall health.
Sesame seeds are one of the oldest crops known to humanity, with a history that dates back over 3,000 years. The origins of sesame seeds can be traced to the Indian subcontinent, where they were first domesticated over 5,000 years ago. From there, the cultivation and use of sesame seeds spread to other parts of the world, including China, the Middle East, and Africa.
In ancient times, sesame seeds were highly prized for their oil, which was used for cooking, lamp fuel, and medicinal purposes. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all used sesame seeds in their cuisine, and the seeds were also used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of ailments.
Sesame seeds played an important role in the medieval Islamic world, where they were used to make halva, a sweet confection, and tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds that is still a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine today. The Arabic word for sesame, “simsim,” is believed to be the origin of the word “sesame.”
During the Age of Exploration, sesame seeds were introduced to the Americas, where they were incorporated into African and Asian-inspired dishes. Today, sesame seeds are widely cultivated and used around the world, both for their oil and as a popular ingredient in many different cuisines.
Sesame seeds offer many health benefits, some of which are:
Heart health: Sesame seeds are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic acid, which may help to reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels and increase HDL or “good cholesterol” levels. This can help prevent heart disease and stroke.
Protein: Sesame seeds are a great source of dietary protein, providing about 18 grams of protein per 100 grams of seeds. This makes them an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans who may struggle to get enough protein in their diets.
Antioxidants: Sesame seeds contain several antioxidants, such as sesamol and sesaminol, that help to neutralize free radicals and protect against oxidative damage. This can help to prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Vitamins and minerals: Sesame seeds are rich in B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and riboflavin. They also contain minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper, which are important for bone health, red blood cell production, and muscle function.
Digestive health: Sesame seeds contain fiber, which can help to promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.
Skin health: The high zinc content in sesame seeds is beneficial for skin health. Zinc helps to support collagen production, which can improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Blood sugar control: Sesame seeds are low on the glycemic index and have been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels. This makes them a great option for people with diabetes or those who are at risk of developing the condition.
- When selecting sesame seeds, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Look for fresh seeds: Choose seeds that have a fresh, nutty aroma and a crisp texture. Stale seeds will have a rancid or bitter taste and a soft, chewy texture.
- Check for color: The seeds should be a uniform light beige color. Dark or discolored seeds may indicate age or mold.
- Feel the seeds: The seeds should be dry and firm to the touch. If they feel damp or sticky, they may have been improperly stored and could be prone to spoilage.
- Look for unbroken seeds: Check the package for any broken or crushed seeds. Damaged seeds can spoil more quickly and may also affect the taste and texture of your recipe.
- Consider organic: If possible, choose organic sesame seeds to avoid exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
- Sesame seeds should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Here are some steps to follow for proper storage:
- Choose an airtight container: You can use a glass jar or a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.
- Keep sesame seeds in a cool and dry place: The best place to store sesame seeds is in a pantry or cupboard away from direct sunlight and moisture. Avoid storing them in the refrigerator, as this can cause them to become rancid.
- Check for moisture: Before storing sesame seeds, make sure they are completely dry. If they are damp or have any moisture, they can quickly become moldy.
- Label the container: Be sure to label the container with the date of purchase and the expiration date. This will help you keep track of when the seeds need to be used by.
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tbsp grated coconut
2-3 green chillies
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 small piece of tamarind
Salt to taste
Water as needed
- Roast sesame seeds in a pan until light golden brown. Let them cool.
- In a blender, combine the roasted sesame seeds, grated coconut, green chillies, cumin seeds, tamarind, and salt.
- Add enough water to form a smooth paste.
- Transfer the chutney to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
- Serve with dosa, idli, or any South Indian breakfast dish.
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium-sized cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish
- Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Once they start to splutter, add onions and sauté till they turn golden brown.
- Add potatoes and sauté for a few minutes till they start to turn golden brown.
- Add cauliflower, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt. Mix well and cover the pan with a lid. Cook on low heat till the vegetables are cooked through.
- Add chopped tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- In a separate pan, dry roast sesame seeds till they turn golden brown.
- Garnish the vegetable dish with sesame seeds and chopped fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with roti or rice.