Tahini: Health Benefits & Recipe Tips

Sesame Remoulade - Cook For Your Life- anti-cancer recipe

Tahini offers a salty, creamy component to any dish and its health benefits are certainly something to brag about.  Made into a paste from grounded sesame seeds, tahini is featured in many dishes as a sauce or dressing.

Sesame seeds are an excellent source of calcium, an important mineral that helps maintain bone health and is a key player in muscle contraction. It is important to consume a diet rich in calcium from plants and dairy products as it may help to lower the risk of certain cancers, specifically breast and colon cancers.

Sesame seeds are also a rich source of lignans, a phytochemical classified as a plant-based phytoestrogen which may be protective against hormone-associated cancers such as breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Currently, the evidence is inconclusive on the extent of its protective actions and several studies have found conflicting results or no associations to lowering the risk of breast cancer specifically. Regardless of the inconclusiveness of these studies, consuming sesame seeds in all its forms is a great addition to a healthy diet.

Tahini also contains phytosterols, a plant form of cholesterol which competes with cholesterol for absorption and thus helps to lower overall the amount of cholesterol we absorb from our diets. Phytosterols are also being studied for their ability to inhibit tumor growth and initiate cell death among other anti-cancer properties. Although most of the studies to date involve animal models and cell cultures, incorporating foods that have high phytosterol content into our diets can add protection and support healthy cellular growth and repair.

Additionally, tahini contains several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E, selenium, zinc, and copper, that each possesses their own beneficial properties. Both Vitamin E and Selenium are powerful antioxidants. Zinc is essential for our developing immune cells and for making DNA.

Chef Tips

It’s best to refrigerate tahini once opened. It can go rancid on the shelf but will last a very long time in the fridge. Before using, try letting it warm up on the counter for ease of stirring, which will ensure the right consistency for recipes.

There are numerous ways to incorporate tahini into the diet, and each recipe is tastier than the next!  Add a  tablespoon of tahini to roughly a cup of chickpea or white bean puree to make hummus.

Or, bake a light white fish and add a tahini sauce to boost the flavor and nutrition of a simple dish. It even works beautifully in sweeter breakfast treats like these Honey Tahini Muffins.

Registered Dietitian Approved

There are many misconceptions about nutrition and cancer in widespread media. By using current scientific literature and recommendations from the Oncology Nutrition for Clinical Practice, 2nd Ed., published by the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, a professional interest group of the  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Institute for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society, our Registered Dietitian, Kate Ueland, MS, RD, CSO and our team of editors work to help our readers discern truth from myth. The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Always consult your physician or registered dietitian for specific medical advice.

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