Sesame is a plant that probably does not need to be presented to anyone. Each of us knows how it looks and how it tastes. Most of us sesame is associated with crunchy sweet sesame seeds that can be bought in every kiosk. However, real sesame seed is something more than a sweet, light and fragile candy bar – it’s a health locked in a tiny grain. Spice, which is very inconspicuous, contains in itself the whole gamma of healing and health properties. Why is it worth to introduce sesame into your diet? What is its healing use? Which dishes suits best? You will know the answer to these questions soon.
Sesame – characteristics of the species and curiosities
The Indian Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) is an annual oil plant. It can also be found under the names kunżut and eastern łogowa. Currently, it is no longer found in the natural environment, and its cultures are huge and completely intended for utility purposes.
The Indian sesame belongs to the family of plant-like plants and reaches a height of even 1.5 m. The leaves are small and their surface is covered with tiny glandular hairs. The flowers are about 3 cm, occur in a variety of colors – from white to red to dark purple, depending on the variety. Sesame fruits ripen in fruit bags. Each of them contains about 80-100 small and extremely aromatic grains. They are flat and dull, and like the flowers they differ in color. They are most often found in cream and black. When the contents of the bag matures, it opens and spills its fruits on the ground.
The source Köhler F., Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen Abbildungen mit kurz erläuternder Texte, Gera-Untermhaus 1887.
So far, it has not been determined where the sesame comes from. It is known, however, that the first records of its use date back to over two thousand years BC In ancient Babylon, sesame was considered a spice of gods – it was so special because of its high health and dietary value. It is not known how the sesame spread throughout the globe. It is believed that this was due to the wanderers who traveled the world hundreds of years ago and traded in various goods. However, it was established that the inhabitants of China and India were responsible for breeding the most valuable variety of Indian sesame. In our country, the most popular is white sesame, however, the world top is the sesame black, appreciated because of its nutty sweet taste.
Sesame – nutritional values
Sesame is an oily plant used mainly in the production of edible sesame oil. Therefore, nobody should be surprised by the fact that it is a raw material with an extremely high energy value. In 100 g Indian sesame seeds there are as much as 647 kcal. Although mainly fats 59.9 g / 100 g of product, the seeds also contain considerable amounts of protein – 23.2 g / 100 g. They are therefore a great alternative for people on a vegetarian diet. However, it should be remembered that it is not a full-blown protein. In addition, sesame seeds have a small amount of digestible carbohydrates – 2.1 g / 100 g and higher dietary fiber – 7.9 g / 100 g.
Sesame is a real treasury of nutrients. It contains a lot of unsaturated fatty acids, these are primarily oleic acid and linoleic acid (21.4 g / 100 g). It has a rich group of exogenous amino acids with various therapeutic properties.
Sesame seeds are characterized by a relatively high content of plant phytosterols. We can find about 231-1900 mg of these substances in 100 g of raw material, for comparison, sesame seed oil has on average about 360-473 mg of phytosterols.
When it comes to vitamins, there are not many of them in sesame. However, you can find in it vitamins from group B, eg folic acid, vitamins B2, B3, B6 and B1. The high content of minerals compensates for a small amount of vitamins. Already 100 grams of sesame seeds almost completely cover our daily demand for calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper. Particular attention should be paid to vegans who in their diets have a limited supply of calcium necessary for the proper functioning of the skeletal system.
Of course, we do not suggest daily consumption of 100 g sesame seeds. We just want to point out that it is an interesting and very valuable food product.
Sesame – medicinal use
Sesame has been known for centuries as a plant with special medicinal properties. The first mention of his pro-health activity are documented and come from 1150 BC. These records attribute the energy of sunlight to seeds of sesame seeds. Until today, it is not known which pro-health properties were meant by the authors of the text. Boldly, however, it can be said that they meant the beneficial effects of sesame seeds on the functioning of the human body.
The most important active substances present in the sesame are the aforementioned tocopherols. Sesame oil contains large amounts of gamma-tocopherol. The compounds of this group are found in oilseeds, as well as in maize and soy. They are characterized by a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action.
Sesame of its antioxidant activity is largely due to the presence of sesamol and sesamin. Both of these substances are characterized by resistance to oxidation processes. Research has proven that they have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the nervous system. They reduce the frequency of epilepsy episodes, relieve nervous tension. They can also be used in Alzheimer’s disease, they improve cognitive functions and inhibit neurodegenerative processes.
Sesamol and sesamin also find application in the treatment of certain genetic diseases, such as Huntington’s chorea. They also eliminate the symptoms of oxidative stress in the myocardium, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The dietary fiber contained in sesame seeds is characterized by high binding efficiency. As the food moves, it binds all harmful substances, toxins and anti-nutrients to each other. Thanks to this, it improves the detoxification processes of our body. In addition, it supports digestion and helps eliminate the problem of constipation.
Sesame – use in the kitchen
Sesame can be successfully used in everyday dishes, it is quite universal and has a very pleasant expressive taste. It is used to prepare many tasty desserts. One of the most famous sweets, which is prepared from sesame, is halva. In addition, sesame is great as a component of dry Asian cuisine, a component of meat crumbs and addition to sushi. Tahini paste is also made from sesame, which is an essential component of home-made hummus.
In conclusion, sesame is a product worth our attention. It is characterized by high nutritional value and scientifically proven health-promoting effects. Already its small addition to ordinary dishes makes them acquire an exquisite taste. In addition, it significantly increases the nutritional value of meals and supplements the diet with micro and macro elements. It is worth remembering, however, that sesame seeds are known as products that cause strong food allergies. They are on the list of the 12 most allergenic food products.