SESAME SEEDS – Nutritional Profile
Sesame seeds are one of the products that really justify a super food tag but rarely receive it. From a nutritional viewpoint the list of elements that are present and necessary for maintaining wellbeing is extensive. Consisting of 19% carbohydrate, 71% fat and 10% protein they are obviously healthy but the high fat content does mean that over consumption can cause problems.
A single 25g serving contains 158 calories that are derived from 4.75g of carbohydrate, 10.25g fat (of which 9% or 2.49g is the less desirable saturated fat) and 2.5g of protein.
Importantly for today’s diet conscious requirements, they are cholesterol free and very low in salt with a 25g serving having 3mg or 0% or your recommended daily allowance (RDA)
The nutrient profile is very impressive and includes copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus. Less well known nutrients such as tryptophan, zinc and selenium are also found in quantities that are above the levels of trace and are sufficient to have an impact on health and well being.
All percentages are based upon a 2000 calorie diet and should be adjusted accordingly
SESAME SEEDS – Health Benefits
Being as rich in minerals as they are the list of health benefits associated with them is quite extensive. The main health benefiting elements are;
Copper, as a nutrient has been found to provide potential relief for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis. Copper’s presence as a trace mineral plays a role in the body’s regulation of anti-inflammatory reactions and is associated with enzymes that are linked with collagen and elastin which provide strength and elasticity in such components as bones and joints
Magnesium has regularly been shown, through research to have beneficial effects on the body. Amongst the many benefits it is active in controlling the extent and frequency of asthma attacks by reducing the tendency for airways to constrict in spasm. It also has a demonstrated impact on blood pressure, playing a role in reducing it, leading to reduced likelihood of stroke and heart attack. Migraine attacks, caused by blood vessel contractions in the brain, have also been shown to be reduced when magnesium is present in the diet.
Calcium has significant impact in two major areas. Osteoporosis is primarily experienced by women as a result of hormonal change associated with the menopause and the calcium in sesame seeds can play a role in reducing the effects of the condition. There is, however, debate around which form of the seeds is more beneficial. Hulled black and brown seeds have 60% higher levels of calcium however the type of calcium present is not as readily taken up as that found in white seeds. There is also a demonstrated role played b y calcium which assists with the protection of colon cells from the effects of cancer causing chemicals. Finally, calcium has been shown to reduce the severity of migraine headaches and to assist in their prevention.
Zinc plays a significant role in bone health by ensuring that bone density levels are maintained which is important for older men. Osteoporosis in this form affects men and a direct link between a lack of zinc in older men’s diet and hip fractures has been demonstrated
Phytosterols are present in sesame seeds. Not only do they contain no cholesterol the phytosterols found. Like the plant sterols frequently sold in butter substitutes, have been shown to be active in reducing the cholesterols present in the blood from other foodstuffs. They are especially high in phytosterols with only walnuts and Brazil nuts having higher levels.
SESAME SEEDS – History
There are several types of sesame seed products available including white, black, brown and red. The black, brown and white ones are the most commercially grown. Black and brown seeds have the exterior hull of the seed in place whereas the white ones are processed and the hull has been removed. The black and brown versions both have a stronger taste than the white variety and this is particularly so with black seeds.
They are grown in across a wide belt of the world on over 20,000 km2 recorded in 2007. There is no single major source with countries as widespread as India, China, Myanmar, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Nigeria all providing significant volumes on the world market place. Seventy percent of the world’s sesame crop is grown in Asia, 26% in Africa and the remaining 4% grown in the Americas.
Due to high oil content sesame seeds have long shelf life and which is extended in the black and brown hulled varieties. Black and brown seeds will last in storage longer with airtight storage recommended for maximum freshness.
As with many seeds and nuts there is a slight risk of allergic reaction and anaphalaxis with some experts reporting increased sesame allergies in the past 10 to 20 years. It remains unclear whether this risk is caused by increasing sensitivity or increased consumption.