These little morsels add a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible, crunch to many Asian dishes.
They're also the main ingredients in tahini (sesame seed paste) and the wonderful Middle Eastern sweet call halvah.
They're available throughout the year.
This is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, prized as an oilseed for at least 5,000 years.
While it's beginning to regain favor due to its exceptionally high calcium and magnesium content, few people realize it's also one of the most potent medicinal foods still commonly consumed today
They're highly valued for their oil which is exceptionally resistant to rancidity.
"Open sesame," the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights, reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity.
The scientific name for sesame seeds is Sesamun indicum.
Not only are sesame-seeds a very good source of manganese and copper, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin-B1, zinc and dietary fiber.
In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin.
Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin-E supplies in animals.
Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.
Rich In Beneficial Minerals
These super seeds are a very good source of copper and a good source of magnesium and calcium.
Just a quarter-cup supplies 74.0% of the daily value for copper, 31.6% of the DV for magnesium, and 35.1% of the DV for calcium.
This rich assortment of minerals translates into the following health benefits:
Copper Provides Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Copper is known for its use in reducing some of the pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis.
Copper's effectiveness is due to the fact that this trace mineral is important in a number of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant enzyme systems.
In addition, copper plays an important role in the activity of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme needed for the cross-linking of collagen and elastin, the ground substances that provide structure, strength and elasticity in blood vessels, bones and joints.
Magnesium Supports Vascular & Respiratory Health
Studies have supported magnesium's usefulness in:
Preventing the airway spasm in asthma
Lowering high blood pressure, a contributing factor in heart attack, stroke, and diabetic heart disease
Preventing the trigeminal blood vessel spasm that triggers migraine attacks
Restoring normal sleep patterns in women who are experiencing unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause
Calcium Helps Prevent Colon Cancer, Osteoporosis, Migraine & PMS
In recent studies, calcium has been shown to:
Help protect colon cells from cancer-causing chemicals
Help prevent the bone loss that can occur as a result of menopause or certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
Help prevent migraine headaches in those who suffer from them
Reduce PMS symptoms during the luteal phase (the second half) of the menstrual cycle
While sesame-seeds have been grown in tropical regions throughout the world since prehistoric times, traditional myths hold that their origins go back even further.
According to Assyrian legend, when the gods met to create the world, they drank wine made from sesame seeds.
These seeds were thought to have first originated in India and were mentioned in early Hindu legends.
In these legends, tales are told in which sesame-seeds represent a symbol of immortality.
From India, sesame-seeds were introduced throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
These super seeds were one of the first crops processed for oil as well as one of the earliest condiments.
The addition of these seeds to baked goods can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times from an ancient tomb painting that depicts a baker adding the seeds to bread dough.
They were brought to the United States from Africa during the late 17th century. Currently, the largest commercial producers include India, China and Mexico.
How to Select & Store
Sesame seeds are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins.
Just as with any other food that you can purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins are covered and that the store has a good product turnover to ensure maximal freshness.
Whether purchasing in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture.
Additionally, since they have a high oil content and can become rancid, smell those in bulk bins to ensure that they smell fresh.
Unhulled seeds can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place.
Once the seeds are hulled, they are more prone to rancidity, so they should then be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Add sesame-seeds into the batter the next time you make homemade bread, muffins or cookies.
Use the traditional macrobiotic seasoning, gomasio, to enliven your food.
You can either purchase gomasio at a health food store or make your own by using a mortar and pestle.
Simply mix together one part dry roasted sea salt with twelve parts dry roasted sesame-seeds.
Sesame-seeds add a great touch to steamed broccoli that has been sprinkled with lemon juice.
Spread tahini (sesame paste) on toasted bread and either drizzle with honey for a sweet treat or combine with miso for a savory snack.
Combine toasted sesame seeds with rice vinegar, tamari and crushed garlic and use as a dressing for salads, vegetables and noodles.
Sauté chicken with sesame seeds, tamari, garlic, ginger and your favorite vegetables for a healthy, but quick, Asian-inspired dinner.
Sesame seeds are a very good source of the minerals copper and manganese.
They're also a good source of magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin-B1 and zinc.
In addition, sesame-seeds are a good source of both dietary fiber and monounsaturated fats.
So, if you're wondering what to have for dinner this evening;
Poppy and Sesame Seed Tuna with Soba Noodles
1 Tuna Filet
1 Serving of Soba Noodles
1/2 Tbs. Sesame Seeds
1/2 Tbs. Poppy Seeds
1/4 Red Onion
4 Asparagus Spears
Handful of Coriander
1 Garlic Clove
1/4 tsp. Chili
1 Spring Onion
1 Tbs. Tamari
2 Tbs. Mung Bean Sprouts
2 Banana Leaves (Alternative: Aluminum Foil or baking paper)
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Coat the tuna filet in the sesame and poppy seeds in a bowl.
Dice the red onion and chili and crush the garlic.
Place the tuna filet in the banana leaves and top with the chili, garlic, red onion and coriander.
Fold the banana leaves and place the package in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the tuna is cooked to your liking.
Boil a saucepan of water.
Once it is boiling add the soba noodles.
The soba noodles only need about 3 minutes to cook.
Once they are soft, drain them and set them aside.
Steam the asparagus spears.
Unfold the banana leaves of the tuna filet and bake for a further 2 minutes.
Then take out the tuna and place in a bowl with the soba noodles.
Cut up the spring onion.
Top the tuna with the spring onion, extra fresh red onion, coriander, mung bean sprouts and tamari.
Serve with the asparagus spears on the side.Tweet
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