All Roads Lead to Sesame Seeds
To say sesame is versatile is an understatement. It’s popular in cooking worldwide and takes a starring role in Middle Eastern, Asian, and Mexican cuisines. Sesame seeds contain a higher concentration of phytosterols than all other nuts and seeds. Phytosterols are compounds found in plants that have a structure similar to that of cholesterol. According to the AICR, sufficient amounts of these compounds in our diets can potentially enhance the immune system, decrease the risk of certain cancers, and reduce bad cholesterol. Sesame also has the unique antioxidant sesamol, which may protect cells from damage by free radicals. Recent research has also speculated that sesame oil absorbed into the skin can inhibit the growth of malignant melanoma cells.
Sesame is a good source of manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus, among others. Non-hulled sesame seeds have a high concentration of calcium, which, according to American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), might help protect colon cells from cancer-causing chemicals. It’s important to eat calcium-rich foods during chemotherapy treatment to support bone health, so open sesame.
Sesame oil is a high calorie food, and should be used sparingly for those watching weight. But for those who have lost appetite during treatment, Tahini is a great topping to have around the kitchen. It’s tasty on many foods and will provide extra calories and nutrition for sustenance. All while still boasting all of sesame’s great immune boosting and cancer-fighting benefits.
As with other seeds and nuts, sesame seeds can go rancid if not kept in a cool place, so it is always best to store sesame seeds and products in the fridge.
Sesame seeds can be toasted (on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes) and added to just about anything, especially sprinkled on top of salads or cooked vegetables to add crunch. Toasted sesame oil is a delicious condiment. Try adding to stir-fries, or drizzling it on steamed green beans or asparagus, or use it in our awesome Thai Style Tempeh Curry. Make sesame salt (gomasio) by mixing 2 tablespoons ground toasted sesame seeds with 1 tablespoon of sea salt for a healthier way to add salt to meals. You can easily make tahini by blending sesame seeds and slowly adding olive oil and tepid water until you have reached a yogurt-like consistency.