Properties of Sesame for Health, Cooking and Beauty

Sesame, or sesame seeds, are one of the oldest edible and oily seeds known to man.  Sesame, the plant, comes from India and Africa, and came to America with slaves.  At first the seeds were used to thicken foods and to give them flavor.  Today, it is one of the most widely used seeds in cooking and international baking, especially in oriental foods.

Sesame seeds in sesame oilSesame seeds contain:

  • A high level of proteins
  • Rich in methionine, an essential amino acid
  • Contains “good” fats, or unsaturated fats
  • Sesame, when present alongside lecithin, helps reduce cholesterol levels
  • Sesame is an important source of different minerals, like calcium which plays a role in the formation of bones and teeth, zinc, a mineral involved in metabolizing carbon moisture, fats and proteins, and iron.
  • Contains nearly 20% protein, a large percentage of vitamin B, and 55% oil, making it ideal for keeping the skin glowing and beautiful.

Medicinal uses

  • Recommended during pregnancy and menopause for its large amounts of calcium
  • Good contributor to increase joint mobility
  • Recommended during periods of weakness or anemia, for its considerable iron content
  • It is said that this seed prevents male infertility, due to its iron content
  • Sesame seeds contain a good amount of fiber, which helps regulate intestinal function
  • In Chinese medicine it is used to lubricate the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and lungs
  • Its lecithin content (greater than that of soy) helps reduce and control cholesterol levels

Beauty

It is also common to find this plant in oils.  The oil is obtained by means of cold pressing the seeds.  Keep in mind, however, that to take advantage of this oil’s properties, it’s important to buy it non-refined.

The oil is used in several cosmetic products to lubricate and beautify the skin.

How to consume sesame

The most common way to obtain and consume sesame is through its seeds, be it toasted or raw.  You can find them already included in some products such as breads and crackers, or by themselves.

Sesame is a very versatile seed that can be mixed with other spices to achieve an array of all sorts of meals.  The whole seed is primarily used, sprinkled over salads, breads, salsas, sauces, meats, crackers, sweets, etc.  A very large amount of oil can be extracted from the seed as well.

Once open, it is advisable to store the product in a dry place to protect it from moisture.  Sesame is ideal for fish stews, baking, soy beans with plums and almonds, fresh marinated tofu, etc.

Another way to eat sesame is in the form of Gomashio, a name given to sesame salt, with which several meals and salsas can be made.

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