Earlier this year I traveled to Costa Rica and visited a local farmers market. One of the vendors at the farmers market who I had met last year on my trip down was there again. He’s an older gentleman, in his 60’s, and he sells spices. Last year I got a garlic sea salt, a Chile salt, a taco mix and a turmeric tea mix. Everything I got from this guy was nothing short of exceptional. The quality of his spices are top notch. I used those salts, spices and tea for months. I actually used them sparingly when I got back because I enjoyed them so much and wanted to savor them. He had sesame seeds last year on my trip, but I didn’t get them.
This year on my trip down, I made an effort to visit the farmers market on Saturday just to see this guy. Thankfully he happend to be there that week. I loaded up on some of the spices that I had gotten last year and additionally gotten a “sesame shake” mix with sesame seeds. I didn’t have any idea as to how I was going to use it at the time but smelling this little bag of sesame seeds with a few other spices was too aromatic to pass up.
Yesterday I finally opened this sesame seed spice mix and added it to hummus, and I must say, it was delicious. It added a nice flavor to the hummus and I highly recommend eating your hummus with sesame seeds. Maybe that’s the reason hummus comes topped with sesame seeds? it’s so good together. This mix I have has other spices as well that added to it.
After eating my sesame seed and spice covered hummus snack and being in taste bud heaven, I wondered out of curiosity the health benefits of sesame seeds. Most nuts and seeds have a few health benefits. They may have some minerals, healthy fats and proteins, and maybe a few vitamins. I started researching the health benefits and nutritional profile of sesame seeds and was quite amazed at what I found.
Sesame seeds aren’t your average seed. Not in their nutritional profile or in their health benefits. Sesame seeds can only be described (in my mind at least) as a superfood. They are a tremendously valuable seed that I will be incorporating into my diet much more often for the reasons you will soon learn.
First, lets’ dig into the nutritional profile of sesame seeds so that you can better understand the large (and odd) array of health benefits that sesame seeds offer.
Nutritional Profile Of Sesame Seeds:
Sesame seeds contain the following vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B6
- Unique Dietary Fibers Known as Lignans: Specifically sesamin and sesamolin which lower cholesterol, prevent high blood pressure and increase the ability of the body to use vitamin E in animal studies.
- Tryptophan: An amino acid beneficial for a healthy night’s rest. It also helps the body create protein, vitamins and enzymes.
- THC: That’s right. Sesame seeds the same compound in Cannabis that get’s you high. This can show up on drug tests (just fyi) but is in such small amounts that you will not feel high by eating sesame seeds.
The Incredibly Valuable Health Benefits Of Sesame Seeds
Sesame Seeds Protect You From Radiation:
If you told me a few days ago that there was a food that protected me from radiation I might think you were out of your mind. I mean, radiation is coming at you from the outside and penetrates your skin. There isn’t much you can do about that! or so I thought. What makes sesame seeds really unique is that they contain a unique fiber known as sesamol which is known to protect human DNA from radiation. In a study with Swiss Albino Mice there were administered sesamol and then exposed to radiation. At a dose of 50mg/kg bw of sesamol the mice had increased crypt cells, maintained villus height, and prevented mucosal erosion. Radiation led to mortality in some mice but the mice with sesamol were protected better. This simply means that eating foods rich in sesamol like sesame seeds help to protect your body’s integrity from the harmful effects of radiation. Radiation comes from wifi signals, 4G cell phone signals, microwaves and any other radiation/EMF emitting device.
2. Blood Pressure And Cholesterol Lowering:
Sesame seeds contain a compound known as phytosterols which are known to lower cholesterol. Phytosterols are plant compounds found in nature that are very similar to human cholesterol. When they are in your diet in a sufficient amount they help to lower blood levels of cholesterol as well as enhance the response of the immune system. Interestingly enough in a study by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers published the amounts of phytosterols present in nuts and seeds commonly eaten in the United States and it turns out that sesame seeds had the highest total phytosterol content of all nuts and seeds tested.
Sesame seeds are also very rich in natural oils that have been connected to reducing hypertension in more than a few studies. This makes it easier on your cardiovascular system, and helps prevent a few cardiac conditions as well. What’s more? Sesame seeds contain magnesium which has long been known as a vasodilator (an agent that helps reduce blood pressure) and sesame seeds are full of this mineral. They contain up to 25% of your daily nutritional requirement in a single serving. How incredible is that? For blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiovascular health, eat more sesame seeds.
3. Sesame Seeds Prevent Cancer:
Sesame seeds contain a really nice, wide range of essential vitamins and minerals. They have been linked to a reduction in the risk of cancer. Sesame seeds also contain phytate, which is a cancer preventing compound that functions as an antioxidant and reduces the impact and stress of free radicals in the body. There are harmful byproduct effects of cellular metabolism that have been linked to quite a few forms of cancer and various other conditions like heart diseases, premature aging, and cognitive malfunctions. Sesame seeds have been known to prevent cancers including but not limited to leukemia, breast, lung, pancreatic, colon, as well as prostate cancer.
4. Sesame Seeds Benefit Digestive Health:
Sesame seeds are incredibly beneficial for digestive health believe it or not. They contain magnesium which is known to help benefit the digestive system by supporting the digestive tract which is essentially a long muscle. This helps that muscle function better and stronger. To work more functionally. These little seeds also contain a lot of fiber inside of them. Fiber is obviously an important part of a healthy digestive system. Dietary fiber can reduce digestive abnormalities such as constipation, as well as diarrhea. The fiber protects the health of your colon and reduces the risks of gastrointestinal diseases and cancer. Fiber also benefits your heart, it works by scrubbing out high levels of dangerous LDL cholesterol from the arteries and blood vessels. This helps to protect against heart attacks, and strokes.
5. Sesame Seeds Reduce Inflammation in The Body:
Sesame seeds are great at reducing inflammation in the body. It’s funny. Usually when people think of nuts or seeds they think that they may make them bloated or react to them. Many people have nut allergies such as peanuts and other tree nuts but sesame seeds tend to help reduce inflammation. Sesame seeds contain a good amount of copper that has a number of valuable functions for the body. The reduction of inflammation in joints, bones, and muscles, which is also beneficial in reducing the aches and pain of arthritis. Also, copper is an essential mineral for improving the strength of bones, joints and blood vessel walls. Lastly, copper is a necessary nutrient for the uptake (absorption) of iron in the body, which happens to be a key part of hemoglobin. A sufficient dietary or supplement supply of copper in the human body helps to improve circulation and benefit other organs in the body. This ensures that they receive enough oxygen to function optimally through healthy hemoglobin levels in the blood.
6. Sesame Seeds Benefit Muscle Development, Skin, Hair, Nervous System:
Whenever a food supports your external physique and youthfulness, take notice. These are foods that help to keep your vitality and energy younger longer. Sesame seeds are rich in protein and trypthophan (an amino acid) that help to support muscle development and strength. Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and zinc. All of these nutrients play a role in healthy muscles, hair, skin and the nervous system. Zinc is an important nutrient in the production of collagen which is used for the production, the rebuilding of muscles, hair and skin alike. Magnesium helps to relax the nervous system while also helping muscles contract and be used. It also helps the skin soften up and have a little glow to it.
It’s obvious that sesame seeds have a tremendous amount of nutritional value. Who knew that they contained THC (the compound in Cannabis that gets you high) and that they also help protect you from radiation? Those two things surprised me the most. It’s also worth noting that sesame seeds are very beneficial for bone health because of their nutritional profile containing zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. This also benefits anyone with arthritis. These same nutrients translate into benefiting the teeth as well. It has also been found that sesame seeds help diabetics by regulating insulin and glucose levels better.
It’s no wonder that this crop, one of the oldest crops in the world that has been cultivated for over 3,500 years in places like India and Africa. It is a true superfood packed full of nutrients and compounds that benefit your health, strength and prevent a host of conditions and diseases that you’d rather avoid!
Source: Organicfacts.net/health-benefits/seed-and-nut/sesame-seeds.html, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17045515