Tahini is a delicious condiment that can add some spice to your snacks, while also providing a number of surprising health benefits!
What is Tahini?
Tahini is a Middle Eastern condiment made from ground hulled sesame seeds. You will most commonly find tahini as a dip for crudites or other foods, and it is a primary ingredient in other well-known Mediterranean spreads and dips, such as hummus and baba ghanoush. It has a rich taste of sesame seeds, but the fact that the seeds are often toasted first gives the dip a more pleasant and earthy flavor. Tahini is prepared in many different styles and used in countless ways depending on the cultural cuisine. However, its health benefits are undeniable, particularly compared to many other dips and dressings that are high in saturated fat and empty of nutritional value.
When it comes to nutrition, tahini is rich in beneficial fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6, as well as good amounts of protein, potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, sodium and dietary fiber. In a single tablespoon, you will get nearly 90 calories, 12% of your fat intake for the day, but most of that will be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. There is also a good amount of fiber in tahini, roughly 5% of your daily requirement in each tablespoon. The sesame seed paste is relatively lower in carbohydrates (1%), making it a high-protein, low-carbohydrate source for vegetarians.
Health Benefits of Tahini
The primary health benefits of tahini include its effects on hormonal balance, iron absorption, skin tone, bone mineral density and muscle tone, among others.
There is a moderate amount of potassium in tahini, as well as other antioxidants that can help to lower inflammation and blood pressure. With hypertension symptoms eliminated, you will be able to lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
The phytoestrogens found in sesame seeds can have important effects on women, particularly those who are going through menopause. When you consume estrogenic foods during this time, your body is less prone to hormonal fluctuations.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to have certain antioxidant properties, as do some of the other vitamins and minerals in this condiment. This can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body, relieving symptoms of psoriasis, eczema, and acne, as well as wrinkles and age spots!
Studies have found that the high levels of amino acids and vitamins found in this popular spread are able to boost nutrient absorption in the gut, meaning that the food you eat goes further towards keeping you healthy.
Bone Mineral Density
Although tahini is somewhat high in fat, the majority are good fats, including monounsaturated fats, which can improve your cholesterol profile. For every 1 gram of saturated fat, there are 6.5 grams of mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
There is a decent amount of protein in this sesame seed dip, which can speed the process of muscle development and growth.
Studies have linked omega-3 fatty acids to reduced inflammation in the brain and a lower risk of neurodegenerative disease.
Source of Iron
People who need to increase their iron levels can include tahini in their diet as 1 tablespoon of this paste has almost 2.5 mg of iron. This is especially beneficial for people who have anemia, which is a disorder characterized by low iron levels, low red blood cells, and fatigue.
Tahini is a mineral powerhouse which boosts and strengthens the immune system. The high zinc, selenium, iron, and copper content in tahini help fight viral and bacterial infections. Zinc, iron, and copper facilitate the production of germ-fighting white blood cells. Selenium has the ability to support enzymes in the body so that they can release antibodies.
It is quite easy to add tahini to your diet as a topping, sauce, garnish or condiment. The unique flavor of tahini pairs well with sweet and savory dishes. It can be used in a number of creative ways such as:
- Salads: Many people enjoy adding tahini to their salads, rather than oily dressings.
- Sandwiches: It is also a wonderful spread for toast.
- Soups: You can add a dollop to your soups.
- Dip: Add it as a dip for meat dishes, crudites, or chips.
- Post-workout snack: It is added as a protein boost to smoothies or used as a spread on apple slices.
- Dessert: You can even mix it in as a topping for desserts.