Small sesame seeds are one of the oldest well-known spices, which is why it is not surprising that they have been added to the breadfruit products in Ancient Egypt. The Chinese medicine attributes sesame with healing properties, and sesame is also considered to slow down the aging process.
Half of the sesame seed contents are made up of oils whose value is characterized by a high percentage of oleic and linoleic fatty acids, while one-fifth of the contents are made up proteins with high biological value. Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper and manganese, but they also stand out for their percentage of magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin B1, zinc, and dietary fibers.
Sesame seeds also contain two unique compounds from the lignans family: sesamin and sesamolin. Lignans are phytochemicals that are characterized by numerous positive attributes, among which is the ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Besides that, lignans are classified as phytoestrogens which, under the influence of the enzyme system in our bowels, turn into hormone-like substances and thus provide the protection from tumors that are sensitive to hormones, such as breast cancer. In addition, it has been proven that sesamin protects the liver from the oxidative damages.
Benefits of sesame seeds
The positive influence of lignans as phytoestrogens is not reserved only for the protective effect of the breast cancer. Precisely because of their hormone-like activity, the results of the numerous research studies have pointed to their ability to soothe the menopausal problems. In addition, sesame seeds offer a multitude of benefits. Copper, for example, helps in soothing the pain and infections caused by rheumatoid arthritis, and magnesium can be used with lowering the blood pressure levels and the prevention of migraine attacks.
Although calcium is not present in sesame seeds in the most useful form as it is in milk and dairy products, its high concentration can still be useful in maintaining the bone marrow density and the prevention of the appearance of osteoporosis, especially in vegans. Due to a somewhat high concentration of zinc, it is desirable to have sesame seeds in every male’s menu more often. Namely, zinc plays an important role in keeping the sperm healthy and aids male fertility.
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has studied the concentration of phytosterols present in nuts and seeds. The results have shown that, out of all observed nutrients, sesame seeds contain the highest concentration of phytosterols or the herbal ingredients that have the structure similar to cholesterol. In the adequate quantity, phytosterols interfere with the cholesterol absorption and, in this way; they assist the reduction of the increased cholesterol levels.
The precious sesame seed ingredients are better absorbed if they are crushed or grounded. If you mix the ground seeds with the sesame oil, you get a paste called tahini. Tahini can be incorporated into many sauces, spread on bread instead of butter, but it can also be used in the preparation of cakes and cookies. In the Middle East, sesame seeds are used for making the popular dessert called halva. The esteemed dark sesame oil is produced through the cold pressing of the fried sesame seeds. It can be used for stewing, baking, frying, as well as for the preparation of sauces and salad dressings.
In our region, sesame seeds most often find their way to our table in the bread and various pastries, even though their use in the culinary arts is practically unlimited. They go great with pasta and rice, so feel free to sprinkle the finished dishes with a few sesame seeds. A teaspoon of sesame seeds can also be added to your favorite breakfast cereal or yogurt.
The combination of the rice vinegar, tamari (soy sauce), crushed garlic, and dried seeds, produces a salad dressing that will bring any salad to life. Sesame seeds with a little bit of lemon juice are an excellent complement to steamed vegetables. During the preparation of fried dishes, sesame seeds can be added to breadcrumbs. Sesame seeds can also be added to different marinades or be sprinkled on sushi, giving a whole new dimension to the already familiar dishes.