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Top 8 benefits of sesame seeds

sesame seeds and oil
Sesame seeds are packed with vital vitamins and minerals. Find out everything you need to know, from 8 sesame seed benefits to adding them to your diet.

Top 8 benefits of sesame seeds

From making tahini dressings to sprinkling over crispy fried tofu, sesame seeds are rarely seen as the star of the show. But did you know that they actually offer some pretty impressive benefits? From providing you with good dose of fibre to containing a range of vitamins and minerals, find out why you should pay more attention to these little super seeds, right here.

Where do sesame seeds come from? 

Starting off with the basics, where do sesame seeds actually come from? Considered one of the oldest and most traditional oilseed crops, sesame seeds come from the sesamum plant.

What are the top sesame seed benefits?

We’re diving right into the good stuff here. Discover eight of the best sesame seed benefits below…
  1. A good source of fibre

First up in our list of sesame seed benefits is its fibre contents. According to the British Dietetic Association, a 100g serving of sesame seeds provides 7.9g of fibre and a tablespoon provides 1.1g .1 So, why is this a good thing? The NHS says that there is strong evidence to suggest that eating lots of fibre is linked to a lower risk of health concerns like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. It may also help with constipation.2

It's also believed that most adults are only getting about 20g of fibre a day, but our intake should be closer to 30g.3

  1. A great source of iron

Another reason why sesame seeds are a great addition to your diet is that they’re a good source of iron. In fact, sprinkling a tablespoon of sesame seeds over your meal could give you 10% of your daily intake as it contains 1.4mg of iron.4 We need iron for all kinds of bodily processes, but making haemoglobin is considered the most important role as it helps to transport oxygen around the body.

Iron also plays a key part in maintaining the health of our immune system, which helps to keep our body safe from germs, bacteria, viruses, toxins and fungi.5,6

3. A plant-based source of calcium

3. A plant-based source of calcium

Calcium is needed to maintain healthy teeth and bones.7 If you follow a plant-based diet, you might be looking for ways to increase your calcium intake. Well, sesame seeds might be the answer.

A 100g serving of sesame seeds offers a whopping 975mg of calcium and adults need approximately 700mg a day, so that would be well over the recommendation.8,9 Although, it is worth adding that eating 100g of sesame each day would be hard to achieve – and probably not recommended. A more realistic view is a tablespoon, which contains 87.8mg of calcium.8

Since calcium is mostly gained from dairy products, incorporating sesame seeds or a product with sesame seeds in (like tahini) may be a good idea.

  1. A plant-based source of magnesium

As well as providing you with calcium, sesame seeds are also a good source of magnesium as 100g of the stuff has 351mg and a tablespoon offers 31.6mg!8 This is especially impressive as the daily requirement for men is 300mg a day and 270mg a day for women.10

So, why is this a worthy benefit of sesame seeds? Magnesium is super important for keeping your body ticking over. It helps to keep the heart, muscles, nerves and bones running smoothly.11 But that’s not all. Magnesium also helps to turn the food we eat into energy and keeps our parathyroid glands (aka your thyroid) working normally.10

  1. A good source of B vitamins

B vitamins are needed by our bodies to enable our enzymes to do their jobs properly, like releasing energy from carbs and fat into amino acids and transporting oxygen around the body.12 But did you know that sesame seeds are also a good source of B vitamins? Especially vitamin B6, as it has 0.79mg per 100g and 0.071mg per tablespoon.8

6. A way to get more plant-based protein in

6. A way to get more plant-based protein in

While other seeds and nuts offer more, sesame seeds are a great little addition to your diet if you’re trying to get more plant-based protein in. In fact, 100g of sesame seeds contain 17.7g of protein – and a tablespoon provides you with 1.6g.8

The dietary requirements for protein is usually 0.75g per kilogram of your bodyweight per day, with pregnant people and children needing even more.13 We need a sufficient amount of protein to help maintain the growth and repair of our muscles and bones.

  1. A little boost of vitamin E

By now you’re probably getting the idea that sesame seeds can offer a range of different nutrients. But we’re not quite done yet. Sesame seeds also offer 0.25mg of vitamin E per 100g and 0.022mg per tablespoon.8

While this isn’t a huge amount, it can help you to work towards the recommended intake which is recommended as it is needed for a variety of bodily functions. From supporting our skin and eyes to supporting the immune system, vitamin E plays an important role – so we’re glad that the humble sesame seed contains it!14

  1. May help to improve antioxidants

And last in our list of sesame seed benefits is its potential to provide your body with antioxidants. Both animal and human studies have found eating sesame seeds might increase the overall level of antioxidant activity in your blood.15,16

It is believed that they contain an antioxidant plant compound called lignans, which are said to help protect the body from oxidative stress.17,18 In addition to this, the type of vitamin E found in sesame seeds is called gamma tocopherol, which also seems to play a role as an antioxidant.19

Sesame seeds nutrition

As you’ve just read, the nutritional profile of sesame seeds is pretty special, so let’s take a look at an overview of exactly what they offer.

Discover what both a 100g serving and a tablespoon of sesame seeds provides you with below:8

Calories 573 52
Protein 17.7g 1.6g
Total fat 49.7g 4.5g
Carbohydrates 23.4g 2.1g
Fibre 11.8g 1.1g
Sugar 0.3g 0.03g
Calcium 975mg 87.8mg
Iron 14.6g 1.3mg
Magnesium 351mg 31.6mg
Potassium 468mg 42.1mg
Zinc 7.75mg 0.7mg
Selenium 34.4µg 3.1µg
Vitamin B-6 0.79mg 0.07mg

What are black sesame seeds?

Spotted black sesame seeds in the shops and not sure whether to opt for them instead? The key difference is that black sesame seeds still have their hull (or outer shell) intact, which gives them a slightly stronger flavour and more of a crunch.

How to include sesame seeds in your diet

One of the easiest ways to use sesame seeds is to sprinkle them over your grub. Salads in particular are a great option, as they help to add a little extra crunch – and nutrients!

Or if you’re feeling particularly creative, you can try and make your own tahini which can be used in sauces, baking and also drizzled over salads.

Sesame allergy

Sesame allergy

While sesame seeds pack a hard nutritional punch, please remember that they are an allergen. While it’s not one of the most common types of allergy, be sure to look out for these symptoms:20

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded 
  • Itchy skin or a raised rash 
  • Swelling of the lips, face and eyes 
  • Coughing, wheezing, breathlessness, noisy breathing or a hoarse voice  
  • Sneezing or an itchy, runny or blocked nose 
  • Feeling sick or being sick 
  • Tummy pain 
  • Diarrhoea

If you do experience these symptoms either straight away or days later, do get in touch with a medical professional.

The final say

Who would have thought that the humble sesame seed could offer so many health benefits? Having said this, it’s still very important that you aim for a well-rounded diet, with a good balance of high fibre carbs, lean protein, healthy fats and plenty of water.21

Sources

  1. https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/fibre.html
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/digestive-health/how-to-get-more-fibre-into-your-diet/
  3. https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthy-sustainable-diets/starchy-foods-sugar-and-fibre/fibre/ 
  4. https://www.bda.uk.com/uploads/assets/f2abf0e1-fa59-49db-a0afb1cb1bf9a878/Iron-food-fact-sheet.pdf 
  5. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/the-immune-system#:~:text=What%20is%20the%20immune%20system,and%20proteins%20that%20work%20together.
  6. https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/iron-rich-foods-iron-deficiency.html 
  7. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-to-eat-a-balanced-diet/the-vegan-diet/ 
  8. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170150/nutrients 
  9. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/calcium/#:~:text=How%20much%20calcium%20do%20I,need%20from%20your%20daily%20diet. 
  10. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/ 
  11. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/magnesium/ 
  12. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins/vitamin-b/#:~:text=These%20vitamins%20help%20a%20variety,containing%20nutrients%20around%20the%20body. 
  13. https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthy-sustainable-diets/protein/?level=Health%20professional 
  14. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-e/#:~:text=Vitamin%20E%20helps%20maintain%20healthy,infection%20(the%20immune%20system). 
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21827664 
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26989280 
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30250777 
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17876372 
  19. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/gamma-tocopherol
  20. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/food-allergy/
  21. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-guidelines-and-food-labels/the-eatwell-guide/
 

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