Sesame seeds are a solid source of vital vitamins and minerals, making them a great addition to a balanced diet. They’re also versatile AF and taste great on tons of sweet or savory dishes.
Here’s a rundown of the 10 best benefits of sesame seeds plus some yummy ways you can add them to your diet.
Don’t let their size fool you. Sesame seeds are nutritional superstars. Here’s a rundown of the 10 best benefits.
1. Good source of fiber
Fiber isn’t just rad for regularity 💩. Getting enough dietary fiber might reduce your risk of:
- breast cancer
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
- digestive conditions like diverticular disease
Now that’s a hard-working nutrient!
Eating more sesame seeds is a great way to boost your fiber intake. In 2 tablespoons of whole dried sesame seeds is an impressive 2.12 grams (g) of fiber. Not too shabby!
2. Rich in B vitamins
Sesame seeds and their hulls are rich in B vitamins like thiamine, niacin, and vitamin B6. That’s great news since these healthful nutrients help your body:
Psst. Research also shows vitamin B complex can help your brain function on fleek. Woot!
3. Awesome source of plant protein
Vegetarians and vegans, rejoice! Sesame seeds are a potent source of plant protein. A 2-tablespoon serving packs 3.18 g. Protein helps your body function in lots of important ways. It can help:
- reduce appetite
- boost metabolism
- increase muscle mass
- might strengthen bones
- help maintain weight loss
4. Packed with antioxidants
Sesame seeds contain plant compounds called lignans. These antioxidants can help protect your cells from damage and might reduce your risk of certain diseases. They’re also rich in gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E believed to reduce heart disease risk. But we need more research to show this is legit.
5. Might be good for your heart
Sesame seeds have been found to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. BTW, this is the “bad” type of cholesterol that can increase your risk of heart disease.
In addition to lignan — which can help block the absorption of cholesterol — sesame seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (aka ALA). Studies show ALA may also help reduce your risk of heart disease.
6. May reduce blood pressure
Sesame seeds are a good source of magnesium, a mineral that can help lower blood pressure. Additionally, magnesium helps your body regulate nerve function and blood sugar levels. It also plays a big role in protein, bone, and DNA production.
7. Could benefit bone health
Sesame seeds are a great source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. All of these nutrients can help support bone health.
Just keep in mind, raw sesame seeds contain compounds like oxalates and phytates. These antinutrients might reduce mineral absorption. But you can get around this by soaking, roasting, or sprouting your seeds.
8. May fight inflammation
There’s some evidence to suggest that sesame seeds can help ease inflammation. In a 2014 study, researchers found the inflammation markers of people with kidney disease fell up to 79 percent in 3 months after eating a mix of sesame, flax, and pumpkin seeds daily. Note: We need more studies on sesame seeds alone to prove the perks.
9. May help regulate your blood sugar
Sesame seeds are a low carb, high protein food rich in healthy fats. They also contain a compound called pinoresinol which might help control blood sugar by lowering glucose levels in the blood. So, all-in-all sesame seeds are a diabetes-friendly food that might help lower blood sugar. But again, we need more proof.
10. Might strengthen the immune system
Sesame seeds contain many of the same ingredients you’ll find in dietary supplements. This includes vitamin B6, vitamin E, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. All of these nutrients can help support a healthy immune system.
Here’s the nutrition breakdown for 1 tablespoon (9 g) of plain, dried sesame seeds.
- calories: 52 kcal
- protein: 1.6 g
- fat: 4.5 g
- carbs: 2.1 g
- fiber: 1.06 g
- calcium: 87.8 milligrams (mg)
- iron: 1.31 mg
- magnesium: 31.6 mg
- phosphorus: 56.6 mg
- potassium: 42.1 mg
- selenium: 3.1 micrograms (mcg)
You’ll find sesame seeds already added to many products, including loaves of bread, bagels, pretzels, and crackers. But you can also add these snazzy seeds to your diet in lots of creative ways. Here are some tasty options:
- Sprinkle roasted sesame seeds over a salad.
- Make black sesame soup, a popular Chinese dessert.
- Sesame oil can add a rich flavor to stir-fries or fried rice.
- Sprinkle some on top of vegetable or bean side dishes for extra flavor and texture.
- Combine tahini, lemon juice, and honey for a delicious salad dressing or veggie dip.
- Add to dukkah, an Egyptian mix of seeds and spices that tastes great with bread and olive oil.
- Dip raw vegetable sticks in tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds, or spread it on toast.
- Add whole sesame seeds to a breading mixture. It’ll add an extra crunch to everything from chicken cutlets to seared tuna.
Sesame seeds tend to be a safe addition to most balanced diets. But before you slay a sesame seed bagel, there are some things to keep in mind.
Sesame seed allergies
Sesame seed allergies are very common. Common symptoms include:
A doctor or allergist can confirm a sesame allergy with a skin prick test. Peeps with sesame seed allergies should avoid sesame seeds in all forms. Bad news: This includes tahini, a popular ingredient in hummus recipes.
Folks who have digestive problems — like Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — might have to limit fiber-rich foods. Just keep in mind, everybody’s bowel is different. Sesame seeds might bother some people more than others.
You might want to avoid eating seeds if you have diverticulitis. This is an infection or inflammation in one or more pouches in the digestive tract. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea, poop problems, and fever. The good news is that you still might be able to eat sesame products like sesame oil or tahini.
Sesame seeds have a host of confirmed health benefits and many that scientists are still discovering.
They might be small, but these seeds are packed with the nutrients your body needs. They’re also delicious and versatile, suiting a range of savory and sweet dishes.
While people with some health conditions may need to steer clear, most peeps can happily chow down without issue.