Sesame seeds come from


Where Do Sesame Seeds Come From?

Sesame seeds, despite their tiny size, are a valuable cash crop. They come from the Sesamum Indicum plant, which is native to Africa but is now found mostly throughout Asia, with Myanmar and India the largest producers. Sesame plants are the oldest oilseed plants known to man, and the oil is used around the world for both cooking and medicinal purposes. The seeds themselves are used as a spice or a seasoning, perfect for adding a pop to that fast food burger’s bun.

The sesame plant is an annual that can grow to a little over three feet tall. The flowers are white, pink, or pinkish-purple, and the seeds grow inside elongated pods. When harvest time rolls around, stalks are bundled and the seeds are extracted from inside their pods.

In their natural state, the little guys are dark brown, and most likely to be found in health food stores. Seeds that are used for breads and buns are often washed and go through a bleaching process to make them appear whiter. McDonald’s purchases approximately 75 percent of the sesame seed crop grown in Mexico, and their purchasing power parity influences global market pricing for sesame seeds every year.

Sesame Profile


Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.), is likely one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world grown for edible oil. Production records have been found dating back to 1600 B.C from the Tigris and Euphrates valleys. Many wild relatives are found in sub-Saharan Africa, with somewhat fewer also found in in India. Sesame was widely adopted as an early crop, because it had the ability to grow in areas where other crops couldn’t, particularly udner hot and dry conditions. It been called a ‘survivor’ crop.

Sesame was introduced into the U.S. in the 1930’s, though historical documentation indicates that Thomas Jefferson grew sesame seed in test plots more than 200 years ago. He referred to it as beni or benne, the name used in Africa. The first U.S. commercial production began in the 1950s following the discovery of a non shattering mutation in 1943 that allowed breeding and development of varieties suitable for machine harvest.


Most farmers growing sesame under contract in the United States are working with the Sesaco Corporation, a private company based in Paris, Texas. Sesaco provides their own varieties (available only to contract producers) and does the processing and marketing of the seed and oil. Producers potentially can market their sesame directly to food brokers or processors but may have trouble obtaining high-quality varieties to plant, since Sesaco is the only group actively developing and distributing seed in the United States. Arrowhead Mills in Hereford, Texas also contracts with growers for organic sesame.

Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds contain 50-55 percent oil and 25 percent protein. The oil contains approximately 47 percent oleic acid and 39 percent linoleic acid. Sesame seeds are used in baking, to top breads, buns and bagels, in crackers and in cakes. The ground seeds are used in East African cuisine in soups, fish dishes. They are also used in sweets, including a dish similar to peanut brittle. Ground seeds are also used as a condiment in some Asian and Indian dishes.

Sesame oil is used in salad and cooking oils, shortening and some margarines. It is a key flavor ingredient in some Chinese dishes.. Sesame oil keeps well and resists rancidity, due to the presence of an antioxidant, sesamol.

Tahini, a traditional Mideast sesame paste is made from hulled sesame seed. The paste is rich in protein and a very good energy source. Dip and spread manufacturers use tahini in conjunction with chickpeas to produce hummus and with egg plant to produce baba ganouj. Halva production is a subset of this industry. Halva is a popular sweet made by mixing approximately 50 percent tahini with boiled and whipped sugar and several other ingredients to form a popular Middle Eastern confection.

Non-food uses for sesame oil include ingredients in soaps, paints, cosmetics, perfumes and insecticides
Sesame Oil
Commercially, sesame oil comes in two types. One type of sesame oil is a pale yellow liquid and has a pleasant grain-like odor and somewhat nutty taste. This oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, ranking fourth behind safflower, soybean and corn oil. It is excellent for use as frying oil, in cosmetics and in food preparations. The other type of oil is amber-colored and aromatic, made from pressed and toasted sesame seeds. This popular ingredient in ethnic cooking is not used as a cooking oil, however, because the flavor is too intense and it burns quite easily. Instead, sesame oil is normally added as a flavoring agent in the final stages of cooking.
Oil is extracted from sesame seeds by mechanical pressing. The seed may be cold pressed to give an aromatic salad oil or hot pressed to give a lower grade product. The oil yield is from 50 percent to 57 percent, depending on growing conditions and seed variety.
The outstanding characteristic of sesame oil is its long shelf life due to the antioxidant , sesamol. This quality makes it applicable for use in the manufacture of margarine in many parts of the world where there is inadequate refrigeration. Sesame oil is also used in paints, soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, bath oils, insecticides and pharmaceuticals (vehicle for drug delivery). Poppy seed, cotton seed and rape oils are frequently added to sesame oil.
Sesame seed oil is being investigated as a cell-growth regulator that slows down cell growth and replication, partly through its antioxidant properties. Research shows that the oil can neutralize free oxygen radicals within the skin and surrounding tissues. Other experiments have demonstrated positive effects for helping to clear blocked arteries. The oil quickly permeates and penetrates the skin, entering the blood stream through the capillaries. While in the blood stream, molecules of sesame seed oil maintain good cholesterol (HDL) and assist the body in removing bad cholesterol (LDL).
In addition, sesame oil contains two important antioxidants believed to promote cell integrity and the healthy function of body tissues in the presence of oxidizing compounds: sesamolin and sesamol. These antioxidants maintain fats and increase vitamin E activity dramatically. They are also being researched as potential industrial antioxidants, as well as nutraceuticals and potential templates for synthetic pharmaceutical compounds.

Sesame Meal and Flour
When the seeds from food-grade, high-oil sesame are extracted, the resulting sesame meal contains from 34 to 50 percent protein. This meal is often blended with other flours for baking and other food uses. The sesame meal remaining after the oil is pressed from less desirable food-grade or non-food-grade seed is an excellent high-protein feed for poultry and livestock.
Both sesame meal and flour can be added to recipes to give a better nutritional balance to health food products. The antioxidants naturally found in sesame increase the shelf life of other food products produced with the flour.
Pharmaceutical and Neutraceutical Applications
Sesame seed oil has been used as a healing oil for thousands of years. It is naturally antibacterial and effective against common skin pathogens as well as common skin fungi including the athlete’s foot fungus. It is naturally antiviral and is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
Many “natural” cosmetics now include sesame oil because of its antioxidant properties.

A current pharmaceutical use for sesame oil in the United States is as a “medical carrier” for injected drug or intravenous drip solutions. It also is used as a carrier or as part of a carrier formulation by the cosmetics industry. The oil for pharmaceutical use is extracted from high-quality seed and is more refined than oil intended for human consumption or other “food-grade” (cosmetic) applications.


In the United States, sesame seed production has been limited to the south, primarily due to the lack of mechanically harvestable cultivars suited to other climates. Almost all commercial production is in Texas and Oklahoma, but production is spreading to Kansas and Arkansas. The USDA did not survey sesame production in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

The sesame plant is an erect annual that grows to a height of 20 to 60 inches, depending on the variety and the growing conditions. Some varieties are highly branched, while others are relatively unbranched. The plant thrives best on well-drained, fertile soils of medium texture and neutral pH but has little tolerance for salt. The plant has an extensive system of feeder roots, making it very drought-tolerant. Growing this plant seems to help condition the soil by improving soil structure.
This warm-season, annual, rainfed crop of the semiarid tropics and subtropics requires five frost-free months for production and needs hot conditions to produce maximum yields. It can, however, be grown up to 40o N in the U.S. Sesame grown in the U.S is produced largely in Texas.

Requirements for production include 110-150 frost-free days, warm soils, not less than 70 o F for seed germination and average daily temperatures from 86 to 92o F for best growth and seed set. Sesame is drought tolerant and does not require irrigation, though studies have been conducted under irrigation that demonstrated yield increases. It is generally planted in rows, rather than drilled.

Texas A. & M. University provides an excellent Sesame Production Guide as does Sesaco.


Combine harvest requires special care, Sesame seed is relatively delicate and easily damaged during harvesting. This damage can affect seed viability and oil quality. In addition, broken seed reduces the crop grade. To minimize seed damage and loss, non-shattering types can be combined at low cylinder speed (450-500 rpm) or about half of that required for cereals. To minimize seed damage and loss, non-shattering types can be combined at low cylinder speed (450-500 rpm) or about half of that required for cereals.
Shattering and non-shattering types of sesame require different harvesting techniques. Mechanical harvesting is more successful with varieties that have minimal branching and a height from the soil surface to the first seed pod of about 12 inches. Late-season rainfall prolongs growth and increases shattering loss. Wind can also cause shattering at harvest.

After harvest, seed should be further cleaned using standard seed cleaning equipment.


Because sesame is a small flat seed, it is difficult to aerate it in a storage bin, so the seeds need to be harvested as dry as possible and stored at 6 percent moisture or less. If the seed is too moist, it can quickly heat and the oil become rancid.


After harvesting, the seeds must be cleaned and dehulled. The seeds pass through an air separation stage to remove any foreign particles. About 10 percent of this “cleaned natural seed” moves directly into food use as whole seed to be blended into flour for baked goods. Next, a combination of water and friction work together as the seeds are passed against the chamber of the hulling machine to separate the hull from the seeds. Once the seeds have been hulled, they are passed through an electronic color-sorting machine that rejects any discolored seeds to ensure perfectly colored sesame seeds. Immature or off-sized seed is removed but saved for oil production.
Sesame oil is extracted by pressure in a mechanical expeller and is tolerant of only minimal heating by the extraction process. The oil is often blended with other vegetable oils for salads and other food uses. Sesame oil should be kept refrigerated. Sesame seeds can become rancid if exposed to prolonged heat. If properly stored, the packed seeds have a 2-year shelf life with little reduction in quality.


Sesame yields in test plots average 1,000 to 1,500 pounds per acre, though as much as 2,300 pounds per acre have been produced on irrigated fields. Commercial yields are usually lower.

Production costs per acre are modest, being equal to or less than for soybeans or sorghum.. The cost savings from not using herbicides (none are labeled for sesame) is partially offset by extra tillage for weed control. Fertilizer costs are primarily for nitrogen, which can be met through organic sources. Harvest costs are similar to other grains, but transportation to market will be an extra expense since delivery points for this specialty crop may be a considerable distance from the grower.


  • Benne (Sesame Seed), Seedland, – This annual herb produces large amounts of oily seeds that are loved by all game birds. Benne is planted at the rate of 5 to 7 pounds per acre and takes 90 to 120 days to mature.
  • Field Guide to Non-chemical Pest Management in Sesame Production, Pesticide Action Network (PAN), Germany, Online Information Service for Non-chemical Pest Management in the Tropics, 2007.
  • FAOstats, UN, 2012
  • Food, Industrial, Nutraceutical, and Pharmaceutical Uses of Sesame Genetic Resources, Trends in New Crops and New Uses, 2002.
  • Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS), Foreign Ag Service (FAS), USDA, 2010.
  • Overview of the Nigerian Sesame Industry, Chemonics International Inc. and U.S. AID, 2002.
  • Phenology of Sesame. 2007.
  • Sesaco, San Antonio, Texas – Established in 1978, this corporation is currently the only significant source of sesame varieties and seeds in the United States.
  • Sesame, Alternate Field Crops Manual, University of Wisconsin/University of Minnesota or University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, 1990.
  • Sesame Production in Texas, San Angelo Research Farm, Texas A&M Extension, 2007 – Sesame production and Texas sesame industry contact information.
  • Sesame Seed, Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Australia, 1995 – Production handbook by Mal Bennet.
  • Spice Barn, Powell, Ohio – Example of a U.S. retailer and U.S. retail prices for small quantities of seed.

Links checked August 2018.

Sesame is a flowering plant that is cultivated for the edible seeds of the plant. The genus Sesamum has many species most of which are wild. The most common cultivated variety of sesame, the Sesame indicum, originated in India. In 2013, 4.2 million metric tons of sesame was harvested worldwide with India and China being the top producers of the crop.

Origin Of Sesame

The oldest oilseed crop known to humanity, sesame has many species of which most are native to sub-Saharan Africa while Sesame indicum is native to India. According to historical accounts, sesame was traded as early as 2000 BC between the Indian sub-continent and Mesopotamia. The crop finds mention as a medicinal drug in ancient Egyptian scrolls and was grown in Turkey at least 2750 years ago as per archeological reports. The popularity of sesame in the ancient world is due to the fact that it is a robust crop that can grow in a wide variety of environments. Thus, trade in sesame flourished since the ancient times.

Uses Of Sesame

Sesame has a rich, nutty flavor that is commonly used as an important ingredient in cuisines across the world. The decorticated sesame seeds are sold mainly to be used as a top coating of a number of baked goods in many countries. The dried whole sesame seeds are rich in calories containing 50% fat, 23% carbohydrates, 18% protein, 12% dietary fiber, and 5% water. The seeds are also used for oil extraction and the flour that remains after oil extraction is 35 to 50% protein. The flour is used as feed for livestock and poultry.

Cultivation Of Sesame

Sesame is a robust plant that can grow in many types of soils. However, the crop grows best in well-drained, fertile soils with neutral pH. High salt and waterlogged soils are not good for sesame cultivation. 90 to 120 frost free days are a typical requirement of the sesame plant. Warm climate favors a faster growth of the crop. The oil content of the plant is influenced by the photoperiod. The extensive root system of the sesame plants renders it as a drought-tolerant plant.

Dehiscence time of sesame varies and hence farmers cut the plants by hand and store them upright till the seed capsule bursts open. It is important to keep the small seed free of moisture and hence the harvested crop needs to be stored at 6% or low moisture conditions. The seeds are cleaned and hulled after harvesting and are passed through an electronic color-sorting machine that discards the discolored seeds. The seeds of consistent color are usually favored by customers and hence the need to sort seeds by color. Seeds that are off-size or immature are separately used for sesame oil production.

Production And Import Of Sesame

Although India and China are the top sesame producing countries in the world, the most productive sesame farms are located in Greece where 0.69 tons per hectare of sesame production was recorded in 2013. The white and lighter colored sesame seeds are produced commonly in West Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Americas, and Europe. In China and southeast Asia, darker-colored sesame seeds are mainly produced. In 2010, more than a billion dollar worth of trade of sesame seeds was recorded. The largest sesame importer in the world is Japan since sesame oil is an important ingredient in Japanese cooking. China is the world’s second largest sesame importer. The US, Canada, the Netherlands, France, and Turkey are other major sesame importing countries.

12 Nutritional Benefits of Sesame Seeds

The potent nutritional benefits of sesame seeds include their ability to improve heart health, lower blood pressure, build strong bones, improve male fertility, and prevent diabetes. They also help cure sleep disorders, improve digestion, reduce inflammation, boost respiratory health, aid in dental care, and treat depression and chronic stress.

What are Sesame Seeds?

Sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) are tiny edible seeds of a plant of the Sesamum genus, native to both India and Africa. They are considered the oldest oilseed crop in the world and have been cultivated for more than 3,500 years. These seeds have a nutty flavor and they can be purchased either shelled or unshelled.

They are commonly added to salads as a topping for bread and grain products, crackers, sushi, cakes, soups, or as breading for fish and meat. Also, sesame oil, derived from the seeds, is a rich source of nutrients with both laxative and emollient properties.

The seeds themselves are very small, only 3-4mm long and 2mm wide, yet 3.85 million metric tons are produced every year. The seeds are initially found in a black hull inside a pod. Once they are removed, they must be stripped of their shells. They come in a wide variety of colors, depending on the variety or strain of the sesame plant.

Watch Video: 13 Amazing Benefits Of Sesame Seeds

13 Reasons Why Sesame Seeds Are Beneficial For Your Health | Organic Facts

Nutrition Facts

Sesame seeds are a rich source of natural oils, lignans, antioxidants, protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, B-vitamins and vitamin E according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Additionally, these tiny seeds are packed with potent amino acids like tryptophan and fat-burning polyphenols like sesamin and sesamol. Researcher Dr. Fereidoon Shahidi with over 600 published research papers, demonstrated the considerable antioxidant activity of sesame products in one of his studies in the journal Food Chemistry.

Health Benefits

The wide range of health benefits of these seeds is explained in greater detail below.

Skin Care

Sesame seeds contain zinc, a vital component in the formation of collagen, which strengthens the muscle tissue, hair, and skin. Also, sesame oil, rich in vitamin E, has been shown to reduce the appearance of burns and marks on the skin, as well as signs of premature aging.

Hair Health

These seeds are rich in plant polyphenols, which help promote hair health. Sesame seed oil is often massaged into the scalp to reduce premature greying and boost hair growth because of the presence of vitamins and minerals. The amino acids and antioxidants in this oil help return the shine back in dull hair.

Sprinkle sesame seeds on your salads and sandwiches. Photo Credit:

Boosts Heart Health

Natural oil-soluble plant lignans present in these seeds help in the reduction of hypertension, as claimed in a number of research studies. This, in turn, helps reduce the strain on your cardiovascular system and prevents various cardiac conditions. A research study published in the journal Nutrition Review states that these bioactive phenolic plant compounds are in the highest concentration in flax seeds and sesame seeds. Furthermore, magnesium has long been known as a vasodilator (an agent that reduces blood pressure) and these seeds are packed with this essential mineral. Sesame seeds contain up to 25% of your daily requirement of magnesium in a single serving.

High in Fiber

Sesame seeds are packed with a significant amount of fiber, an important element in healthy digestion. It can reduce conditions like constipation and diarrhea, while simultaneously protecting the health of your colon and reducing the risk of gastrointestinal diseases.Fiber also works beneficially for your heart, by scraping out dangerous LDL cholesterol from arteries and blood vessels, thereby acting as a protecting agent against atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

Manage Diabetes

Magnesium in sesame seeds has been connected to reducing the chances of diabetes and managing its symptoms in patients having already developed the condition. Furthermore, it has been shown that sesame seed oil can positively affect the impact of various medications like glibenclamide in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. It improves this medication’s functionality and regulates the insulin and glucose levels in the body. This process helps to manage the symptoms of diabetes, as per a research published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.

Anticancer Properties

Sesame seeds are rich in oil-soluble lignans like sesamin and sesamolin, which are known for their antioxidative properties. A research study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that dietary lignans play a potential role in cancer prevention. Furthermore, sesame seeds have a high level of vitamin E, vitamin K, and magnesium, which have an anti-carcinogenic effect on the body.

The seeds also contain phytate, a rare cancer-preventing compound that functions as an antioxidant and reduces the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that have been connected to many forms of cancer. Sesame seeds have also been positively linked to reducing the risk of leukemia, breast, lung, pancreatic, colon, and prostate cancers.

Boost Bone Health

Sesame is the richest source of most of the inorganic nutrients, says a report published in the Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society. The impressive levels of essential minerals like zinc, calcium, and phosphorus can be a major boost for your bone health. These minerals are integral parts in creating new bone matter and strengthening and repairing bones weakened by injury or the onset of debilitating bone conditions like osteoporosis.

Improve Oral Health

Perhaps the most notable effects of sesame seeds are its powerful effects on oral health. Oil pulling with sesame seed oil can have a strong antibacterial and astringent effect on all aspects of oral health. It is also closely associated with reducing the presence of the Streptococcus bacteria, a common bacteria that can wreak havoc on your oral cavities and other parts of your body.

Prevents Infertility in Men

Sesame seeds, when added to the diet of men, improves sperm quality and increases male fertility. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences showed that 25 infertile men, aged between 27 and 40 years, were given sesame seeds for three months. They showed a significant improvement in their sperm count and motility.

Reduce Inflammation

The high content of copper in sesame seeds helps in reducing inflammation in joints, bones, and muscles, thereby contributing to preventing the associated pain of arthritis. Furthermore, copper is an essential mineral for strengthening blood vessels, bones, and joints. Finally, copper is necessary for the proper uptake of iron, a key component of hemoglobin. Therefore, proper copper content in the body maximizes circulation and ensures that the organ systems of the entire body receive enough oxygen to function properly.

Protect Against Radiation

One of the organic compounds in sesame seeds, called sesamol, has been associated with protecting DNA from the harmful effects of radiation, as per a study cited in Cancer Biotherapy & Radiopharmaceuticals. This radiation could come from accidental sources or from the treatment of cancer by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. By protecting the DNA from mutation caused by radiation, these seeds can reduce the chances of contracting other forms of cancer due to cellular mutation.

Boost Metabolic Function

Sesame seeds contain a high amount of protein, which gets broken down and reassembled from its component parts into usable proteins for the human body. This adds to overall strength, healthy cellular growth, mobility, energy levels, and a boosted metabolic function. This is confirmed in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Eating Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds can be used in a variety of ways. They can be consumed in the following ways:

  • Sprinkled as a topping on salads or stews
  • Mixed into bread
  • Ground into thin paste-like tahini
  • Blended into a powder and mixed with various smoothies

Sesame oil is also very popular and potent for natural health remedies, ranging from topical applications on the body to using the oil as an anti-inflammatory substance.

  • How to roast sesame seeds: You can roast or toast sesame seeds very easily. Spread the seeds out in a pan (no more than 1 cup at a time) and ensure that they keep moving continuously and don’t burn. You want a nice even brown color on the seeds. If you start to smell an acrid or strong smell, they’ve begun to burn. You can also set them on a baking sheet and cook them at 350 F for about 10-12 minutes.
  • Where to buy sesame seeds: You can buy sesame seeds at all major grocery stores and natural health food stores. Basically, sesame seeds are available everywhere, as they are one of the most popular types of seeds in the world. Ranging from GNC and Walmart to the smallest herbalists and natural health practitioners, sesame seeds are easily sourced.
  • How to eat black sesame seeds: You should soak the black sesame seeds in water overnight to make them easily digestible. Then, you can sprinkle them on your salads, in your yogurt, or even blend them into a smoothie.

Side Effects

The side effects of sesame seeds occur only when they are consumed in very large amounts. These include:

  • Allergy: Excessive consumption of sesame seeds can cause irritation in the stomach and colon.
  • Presence of THC: They can also show up on drug tests due to their small amount of THC.
  • Blood sugar levels: People who are diabetic need to be careful, as sesame seeds can increase blood sugar levels.

Note: Sesame seeds are not nuts, although many people treat them that way. The reason for this is the presence of similar allergenic chemicals and proteins, which are also found in nuts. Therefore, if you are allergic to some types of nuts, it would be wise to speak to your doctor about sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds are truly one of the most ancient foods on Earth. In fact, sesame plants are the oldest known plant species to be grown primarily for their seeds and oils rather than for their leaves, fruits or vegetables.

Highly valued in eastern, Mediterranean and African cultures, sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) have been used for thousands of years to flavor foods, provide essential fats and enhance skin health. Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed and boasts a rich, nutty flavor, which is why sesame oil, tahini and the seeds themselves are common ingredients in cuisines across the world.

Ready to learn more about this delicious and nutritious ingredient? Keep reading for a full list of sesame seeds benefits and side effects, plus how you can add this super seed to your daily diet.

What Are Sesame Seeds?

Although sesame seeds are a common ingredient added to everything from stir-fries to bagels, many people often wonder: Where do sesame seeds come from?

Sesame seeds are derived from a flowering sesame plant in the genus Sesamum. Sesame seed pods burst open when they reach full maturity, revealing the seeds of the sesame seed plant, which hold its valuable oils. Sesame seeds contain up to 60 percent oil and 20 percent protein, making them a high source of both essential fatty acids and amino acids.

The seeds contain about 50 percent to 60 percent of a fatty oil that is characterized by two beneficial members of the lignan family: sesamin and sesamolin. Sesame oil also contains two other phenolic compounds, sesamol and sesaminol, which are formed during the refining process.

Oil derived from sesame is rich in linoleic and oleic acids, the majority of which are gamma-tocopherol and other isomers of vitamin E. Some of the specific amino acids found in each serving include lysine, tryptophan and methionine. (1)

Top 7 Benefits of Sesame Seeds

  1. Rich in Essential Nutrients
  2. Lower Cholesterol Levels
  3. Reduce Blood Pressure
  4. Balance Hormone Levels
  5. Fight Cancer Cell Growth
  6. Boost Fat-Burning
  7. Enhance Nutrient Absorption

1. Rich in Essential Nutrients

One of the biggest black sesame seeds benefits is their impressive nutrient profile. In fact, sesame seeds are a good source of protein and fiber as well as key minerals like copper, manganese and calcium.

The iron found in sesame can help prevent iron deficiency tied to anemia and boost low energy levels. And although copper deficiency isn’t as common, sesame seeds provide a good dose of the copper needed per day to maintain nerve, bone and metabolic health.

Sesame also contains a good deal of calcium, although there is some controversy over how useful that calcium is. Like all nuts and seeds, sesame seeds contain some natural antinutrients that may block a percentage of the calcium from actually being absorbed and used within the body. Essentially, the calcium is bound to oxalic acid, making it less bioavailable and beneficial.

Hulling sesame seeds, which is a process that involves removing their outer skin, can help remove a much of the oxalic acid but unfortunately also removes most of the calcium, fiber, potassium and iron. In some parts of the world, such as Japan, whole toasted sesame seeds are commonly eaten and considered an essential part of the diet because eating them unhulled, whole and toasted can help improve assimilation of calcium and other nutrients.

Cooking has been shown to remove most of the oxalates from other foods, although this process raises other concerns for damaging the delicate oils found within the seeds. (2) There seems to be pros and cons of eating sesame seeds in different ways, so essentially choose the kind that you like best and round it out with a healthy diet to fill in any nutritional gaps.

2. Lower Cholesterol Levels

Sesame seeds rank highest in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols of nearly all nuts, seeds, legumes and grains. Phytosterols are a type of phytonutrient or plant sterols structurally similar to cholesterol that act in the intestine to lower cholesterol absorption. (3) They help displace cholesterol within the intestinal tract, reducing the pool of available and absorbable cholesterol. Some research has shown that among 27 different nuts and seeds tested, sesame seeds, alongside wheat germ, come out on top as having the highest phytosterol content. (4)

Sesame seeds are also rich in lignans, a type of polyphenol that can improve lipid profiles and normalize cholesterol levels. Lignans help naturally lower cholesterol in a few ways and can reduce cholesterol levels in both the blood and liver. (5, 6) For this reason, researchers sometimes refer to sesame seed phytochemicals as “hypocholesterolemic agents” thanks to their potent cholesterol-lowering properties.

3. Reduce Blood Pressure

Sesame oil is considered a strong antihypertensive thanks to its ability to help naturally lower blood pressure levels. One 2006 study published in the Yale Journal of Biological Medicine investigated the effects of sesame oil on people with high blood pressure and found that it was effective at reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. (7)

Not only that, but researchers also found that supplementing with sesame oil for 45 days was able to decrease cell damage caused by lipid peroxidation while also increasing antioxidant status to promote better heart health in patients.

4. Balance Hormone Levels

Research suggests that sesame seeds may be especially beneficial for post-menopausal women thanks to their ability to increase and regulate levels of sex hormones, improve antioxidant status, and help manage cholesterol levels to optimize health. Plus, sesamin, a type of sesame lignan, was shown to be converted by intestinal microflora to enterolactone, a phytoestrogen compound with estrogen-like activity. (8)

Additionally, because they’re high in essential fatty acids, protein and a wide range of important vitamins and minerals, sesame seeds can also be included as a staple ingredient in a pregnancy diet by maintaining healthy hormone levels and supplying the nutrients needed for a healthy mother and baby.

5. Fight Cancer Cell Growth

Much like flaxseeds, sesame seeds are a rich source of lignan precursors. These specific compounds are produced by the microflora in the colon and have been shown to have powerful cancer-fighting effects on several specific types of cancer.

A 2005 in vitro study conducted by the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto investigated the effects of giving 25 grams of unground whole flaxseeds and sesame seeds to healthy postmenopausal women over a four-week period. Urine test results showed an increase in mammalian lignans from the women receiving both whole flaxseeds and sesame seeds, suggesting that both are effectively converted by the bacterial flora in the colon, potentially helping to protect against the growth and spread of colon cancer cells. (9)

Similarly, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition also found that dietary lignans may act as a natural cancer treatment to reduce breast cancer risk by modifying tumor characteristics. In the study, lignan intakes were associated with a lower risk of estrogen receptor negative breast cancer. After tracking total and specific lignan intake of 683 women with breast cancer and 611 healthy women without breast cancer, it was found that the women with the highest intake of lignans compared to the lowest intake had a 40 percent to 50 percent lower chance of developing breast cancer. (10)

6. Boost Fat-Burning

Some studies suggest that certain compounds found in sesame seeds could help boost fat-burning and keep your waistline in check. In fact, a 2012 animal study out of Maryland actually found that giving rats a powder enriched with lignans helped reduce both body weight and fat accumulation. (11)

Plus, sesame seeds are also high in fiber, packing in 1.1 grams into a single tablespoon. Dietary fiber helps slow the emptying of the stomach to keep you feeling fuller for longer. It can also keep blood sugar levels steady to prevent spikes and crashes, which can lead to increased hunger and cravings. (12)

7. Enhance Nutrient Absorption

The lignans found in black sesame seeds can enhance the antioxidant activity of vitamin E, maximizing the health benefits and helping you get the most nutritional value possible from each serving. (13) Sesame seeds also contain a good amount of essential fatty acids, which are needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K. For this reason, including a source of healthy fat like sesame seeds, sesame oil or sesame butter with a nutrient-dense meal can help you actually absorb and use the nutrients more efficiently.

Related: What Is Falafel? Pros & Cons of This Vegetarian Treat

Sesame Seeds Nutrition Facts

Take one look at the sesame seeds nutrition profile, and it’s easy to see why these tiny but powerful seeds are stellar for your health. Each serving of sesame seed nutrition squeezes in a good amount of essential nutrients, including high amounts of protein, copper, manganese and calcium.

Just one tablespoon (about nine grams) of sesame seeds contains approximately: (14)

  • 51.6 calories
  • 2.1 grams carbohydrates
  • 1.6 gram protein
  • 4.5 grams fat
  • 1.1 grams dietary fiber
  • 0.4 milligram copper (18 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram manganese (11 percent DV)
  • 87.8 milligrams calcium (9 percent DV)
  • 31.6 milligrams magnesium (8 percent DV)
  • 1.3 milligrams iron (7 percent DV)
  • 56.6 milligrams phosphorus (6 percent DV)
  • 0.7 milligram zinc (5 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram thiamine (5 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (4 percent DV)

In addition to the nutrients listed above, sesame seeds also contain a small amount of niacin, folate, riboflavin, selenium and potassium.

Sesame Seeds in Ayurveda, TCM and Traditional Medicine

Sesame seeds are often used in many forms of holistic medicine for centuries, thanks to their medicinal and health-promoting properties.

On an Ayurvedic diet, sesame seeds have been used to increase stamina, enhance fertility, increase energy levels and help satisfy the stomach. Sesame oil is another common ingredient used in the practice of Ayurveda and is used topically for self-massages. Sniffing or gargling with sesame oil is also thought to help clear out mucus and promote oral health.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, black sesame seeds can help tonify the blood, build the spirit, and improve kidney and liver health. They are also used to help naturally treat issues like constipation, dizziness, weakness and backaches.

Sesame Seeds vs. Chia Seeds vs. Sunflower Seeds vs. Poppy Seeds

Sesame, chia, sunflower and poppy seeds are some of the most popular seeds on the market and are often added to everything from yogurt to trail mix and desserts. Sunflower seeds are often eaten as is for a delicious and salty snack, but sesame, chia and poppy seeds are more often used in recipes to add a bit of crunch and a burst of health benefits to dishes.

In terms of nutrition, all three are high in fiber and contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals that are essential to health. Gram for gram, sunflower seeds are the highest in calories but also contain the most protein. Chia seeds are unrivaled in terms of fiber, with over four times as much fiber per gram than sunflower seeds and three times as much as sesame seeds. Meanwhile, poppy seeds pack in the highest amount of calcium and manganese, two important minerals that play a central role in bone health. (15, 16) Sesame seeds, on the other hand, are packed with copper, a trace mineral that regulates tissue growth and repair and maintains metabolism. (17)

For best results, try rotating between all four in your diet to take advantage of the multitude of health benefits that each has to offer.

Sesame Seeds vs. Sesame Oil vs. Tahini

Sesame seeds are commonly enjoyed in many different forms, including tahini and sesame seeds oil. Although each boasts a similar set of health benefits, there are some unique differences in the ways that they are produced and the nutrients that they contain.

Tahini, also sometimes called tahina, is a type of sesame seed paste that is made by grinding sesame seeds. Taking advantage of the tahini nutrition profile by adding a few servings to your diet is a tasty and convenient way to increase your intake of sesame seeds and enjoy the numerous nutrients contained in every bite. Each serving is low in tahini calories but contains a hearty dose of fiber, iron, magnesium and heart-healthy fats.

Sesame seed oil, on the other hand, is made by extracting the healthy oils from the seed, typically by using an expeller press or extraction machine. Commonly used as an ingredient in dips, curries and seasonings, many people wonder: Is sesame oil good for you? Sesame oil nutrition is high in both polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, both of which are great when it comes to heart health. Because of the antioxidant content contained in each serving, sesame oil benefits skin health and helps soothe inflammation to promote better health.

Where to Find and How to Use Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds come in a number of different sizes and colors, including white, golden brown, black, yellow and beige varieties. Black sesame seeds, which are found mostly in China and Southeast Asia, are often said to have the strongest flavor, but the white or beige-colored seeds are the most commonly found in many American and European grocery stores and restaurants.

In developed nations, sesame seed are usually sold with their seed coats removed. After harvesting, the seeds are generally cleaned and hulled. An interesting fact is that even though a batch of sesame seeds with consistent appearance and color are perceived to be of better quality by consumers and can sell for a higher price, mixed colors are naturally harvested and then passed through an electronic color-sorting machine that rejects any that are discolored.

Any seeds that are rejected or not ripe when harvested are saved to be used for sesame oil production. Flour that remains after sesame oil extraction (called sesame meal) is about 35 percent to 50 percent protein and contains carbohydrates, which makes it one of the most preferred high-protein feeds for poultry and other livestock.

Making or buying sesame seed butter, also known as tahini, is another great option for how to eat sesame seeds. Tahini is a good alternative to peanut butter or other nut butters, especially if you have an intolerance to nuts. Tahini is usually made from whole toasted sesame seeds and therefore is a more refined product than using plain, whole and unground sesame seeds, although it’s still delicious and beneficial. Tahini is a staple ingredient in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, including hummus and babaganoush. It’s also used in a range of Asian appetizers and meals, including roasted eggplant as well as some curries and dressings.

When using whole sesame seeds at home, you can greatly enhance their natural nutty flavor by toasting sesame seeds in a dry skillet over low to medium heat until they’re golden brown and fragrant. There are plenty of online instructions for how to toast sesame seeds, but the process is very simple and takes just a few minutes from start to finish. Watch them carefully to make sure they don’t burn, turn black or give off a bad smell, which can mean that they’ve turned rancid.

Sesame Seed Recipes

There are a wide range of sesame seed recipes out there, from how to toast sesame seeds to how to bring their unique flavor to stir-fries, dips, desserts and appetizers. Need a little inspiration? Here are some simple recipe ideas to get you started:

  • Almond, Coconut and Sesame Seed Granola
  • Homemade Tahini
  • Stir Fry Zucchini Noodles
  • Egg Tahini Salad
  • Roasted Green Beans with Sesame and Garlic


There are believed to be thousands of different varieties of the sesame plant grown around the world today, most of which are wild and not harvested. Most wild species of the genus Sesamum are native to sub-Saharan Africa, but types including Sesame Indicum also originally stem from India. Sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops known to man, mentioned in ancient scriptures of Babylon and Assyria over 4,000 years ago and domesticated well over 3,000 years ago.

Remains of sesame recovered from archeological sites have been dated to 3500–3050 B.C. Some records show that sesame was traded in parts of Mesopotamia and the Indian sub-continent around 2000 B.C., while others show it was cultivated in Egypt during the Ptolemiac period. It’s believed that ancient Egyptians called it sesemt, and it was included in the list of medicinal drugs in the ancient scrolls of the Ebers Papyrus.

Sesame fruit is actually a “capsule” that is rectangular and two to eight centimeters long. The fruit naturally splits open and releases the seeds when it’s mature. Sesame plants are highly tolerant to droughts, durable and grow where many other crops may fail, which is why they have been a staple plant for so many years in deserts and barren areas.

The world harvested a whopping 4.8 million metric tons of sesame seeds in 2013. The largest producer of sesame seeds today is Myanmar, while the largest exporter is India, followed by Japan and China.

Precautions/Side Effects

Like other nuts and foods, sesame can trigger allergic reactions in some people. Some research suggests that the prevalence of sesame allergy cases might be on the rise, possibly due to cross-contamination with other nuts or seeds and due to manufacturing processes. People who have a difficult time digesting nuts and seeds, including almonds, flaxseeds and chia seeds, might want to use caution when eating sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also contain oxalates as mentioned earlier, and most of the calcium found in the seed hull comes in the form of calcium oxalate. Most tahini found in grocery stores is most often made with seed kernels that remain after the hull has been removed. These products are generally safe in moderate amounts on an oxalate-restricted diet, but keep in mind that intact seed hulls might have more oxalates, which can aggravate some conditions like kidney stones and gout.

Product labels don’t always indicate whether the hulls have been removed or not, so you can judge by the color and taste. Tahini made from whole, non-hulled seeds is darker and more bitter-tasting than the heavier oxalate types made with hulled sesame kernels.

Additionally, anyone with Wilson’s disease, which is a genetic disorder that causes copper to accumulate in the liver, should avoid large amounts of sesame seeds due to their copper content.

Final Thoughts

  • Sesame seeds are derived from the sesame plant, which produces small pods that burst open upon reaching maturity to reveal the nutritious seed.
  • Each serving of sesame seeds packs in a good amount of fiber, protein, copper, manganese and calcium, along with a range of other important vitamins and minerals.
  • Some of the potential sesame seeds health benefits include better nutrient absorption, increased fat-burning, improved hormone levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and decreased cancer cell growth.
  • Sesame seeds can be consumed as is or made into tahini or sesame oil as a nutritious and delicious dietary addition.
  • Try adding sesame seeds to stir-fries, dips, dressings and salads to bring the benefits of this super seed into your diet.

Read Next: Sunflower Seeds Combat Diabetes, Heart Disease & Maybe Even Cancer

Black sesame macarons (above)

Easy on the eye and devastatingly delicious: sweet with a nutty finish.
Linda Xio,

Makes 20 macarons
60g black sesame seeds
120g icing sugar
40g caster sugar
2 egg whites
¼ tsp salt
A few drops of black gel food colouring

For the peanut butter filling
60g smooth salted peanut butter
100g icing sugar
50g butter, room temperature
A pinch of salt

1 Preheat your oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

2 Grind the sesame seeds and icing sugar in a food processor until fine – about 3 minutes, as the sesame seeds are harder to grind up

– then sift the mixture into a bowl. Most of it should go through, but if a lot doesn’t, put it back in the food processor and grind for another minute or so.

3 Put the caster sugar in a bowl with the egg whites, then whisk with a stand mixer or electric whisk at a medium speed for 3 minutes. Increase the speed, then whisk for a further 3-5 minutes. By now, there should be a stiff meringue in the bowl. Stop the mixer, add a few drops of colouring then turn it back on to the highest speed, whisking for an additional minute to incorporate the colour. Knock the meringue that’s trapped in the whisk back into the bowl.

4 Now, add the sesame seed mixture into the bowl all at once and fold in, until incorporated, being careful to not knock all the air out of the mix.

5 Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain nozzle with the mix, then pipe discs on to a tray lined with baking paper. Bake for about 15 minutes, at which point the shells should be able to be cleanly picked off the baking paper. Let them cool.

6 To make the filling, mix all the ingredients together until smooth, then use to sandwich the macaroons.

Soba noodles with gomadare sesame seed sauce

Gluten, dairy and hassle-free. Serve either as a main, or alongside steamed fish or grilled chicken.
The Guilt-Free Gourmet, Jessica and Jordan Bourke (Ryland, Peters and Small)

Serves 2
200g buckwheat soba noodles
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 tbsp white miso paste
½ tbsp dark soy sauce
½ tbsp agave syrup
½ tbsp rice vinegar
90ml neri goma (Japanese sesame paste) or tahini mixed with 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
110ml dashi
1 spring onion, chopped
½ tsp black sesame seeds

1 Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the soba noodles according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, bring the mirin to a fast boil in another saucepan for a minute or so to cook off some of the alcohol, then remove from the heat.

2 To make the gomadare sauce, put the sesame seeds, mirin, miso paste, soy sauce, agave syrup, rice vinegar and neri goma in a bowl and mix well. Slowly mix in the dashi, bit by bit, until you reach your desired consistency.

3 When the noodles are cooked, drain well and twist into a high mound on each plate with the chopped spring onion piled on top. Spoon the gomadare sauce into a little bowl beside the noodles and sprinkle the black sesame seeds on top. Serve immediately. To eat, pick up a few noodles with chopsticks and dunk them into the gomadare sauce.

Sesame and honey cookies

Speedy and charming little biscuits that make an ideal bed partner for your hot beverage of choice!
JB Bady, Balfour Castle,

Makes 15-20
40g butter, softened
120ml vegetable oil
50g honey
1 egg
190g plain flour
75g sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp baking powder
40g pistachios, roughly crushed

1 Preheat the oven to 175C/350F/gas mark 4. In a bowl, cream together the butter, oil and honey until smooth.

2 Beat in the egg, then add the flour, sesame seeds, baking powder and pistachios and stir to combine.

3 Drop the dough in small ball shapes on to a nonstick baking tray. Bake for 9-12 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool a few minutes on the baking tray.

Sesame coconut fish with chilli spinach

Sesame coconut fish with chilli spinach – healthy, flavourful and a piece of cake to make. Photograph: Tamin Jones for the Guardian

Bursting with flavour and simple to assemble. Serve with steamed rice if you want some carbs.
Supplied by Riverford Farm;

Serves 4
4 x 175g pieces of white fish fillet, skinned (or 4 chicken breasts, skinned)
3 tbsp sunflower oil

For the crust
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp chopped coriander

For the spinach
300g spinach, stalks removed
1-2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2cm piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

1 Mix all the ingredients for the crust together and spread them over the fish fillets. Chill for a few hours to firm up.

2 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Heat 2 tbsp of the sunflower oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan. Put the fish in the hot oil, crust-side down, and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Carefully turn the fish over with a spatula, transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 4–5 minutes (10 minutes for chicken), until cooked through.

3 Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp sunflower oil in a frying pan, add the chilli and ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Turn up the heat, add the spinach and cook, stirring vigorously, until wilted. Season to taste. Serve the fish on the spinach.


This classic Turkish street food is easy to make at home with some forward planning and freezes well.
Olga Tikhonova Irez,

Makes 8
300ml water
7g fresh yeast or 1 tsp dried active yeast
1½ tsp salt
500g flour, plus extra for dusting
140g sesame seeds
60g grape molasses (pekmez)
60ml water

1 Pour the water in a large mixing bowl and dissolve the yeast. Put the salt and one third of the flour in the bowl and stir into a runny pancake-like batter. Continue adding the flour gradually and stirring the thickening batter with the spoon. When about one third of the flour is left, dust a clean working surface with some of it and transfer the dough to the surface. Knead slowly, incorporating the remaining flour – about 10 minutes. The resulting dough will be a bit stiff. Put it in a large bowl, cover with a clingfilm and leave to rise in the fridge overnight.

2 In the morning, dust the work surface with flour. Knead the dough gently a few times to deflate. Divide into 8 equal pieces, shaping each piece into a neat balls. Cover these dough balls with a teatowel and let them rest for 10-15 minutes.

3 Put the sesame seeds in a frying pan over a medium heat. Toss every 2-3 minutes to ensure even browning: after 7-10 minutes, the seeds should pick up a light-brown colour, but make sure they don’t turn caramel-brown (as they will taste bitter). Transfer the toasted seeds to a small deep tray.

4 Whisk together the grape molasses and water in a deep wide plate, then take one dough ball and roll it into a long rope – start rolling in the middle and work outwards. If you dusted the dough balls while dividing, you don’t need to dust the working surface with the flour: too much flour makes rolling tricky. When the rope is about 60cm long, lift it from the middle and swing a bit to extend it. Now holding the middle in one hand and both ends in the other twist the rope a couple of times. Put the ends into the loop to make a ring. Set aside on a lightly floured surface, cover with kitchen paper and repeat with the rest of the dough.

5 Dip each simit in the molasses and then transfer to a colander/sieve to drain the excess liquid. Once all the simits are dipped, one by one place them in the tray with the toasted sesame seeds and coat well. Arrange the coated simits on two baking trays lined with baking paper and shape each bread ring into a neat round. Leave to prove for 30 minutes, then preheat the oven to high – 240C/475F/gas mark 9.

6 Put a metal tray with boiling water in the bottom of the oven and splash about 60ml water around the interior of the oven: you want a bit of steam in there to ensure dramatic “oven spring” (rising of the bread rings during the initial stages of bakingdough). Bake the simits for 10 minutes. Remove the water tray carefully and let the simits bake for 10 minutes more until the tops and bottoms are reddish brown. Simit is best within just a few hours out of the oven. You can cool down and freeze the baked ones and then warm them up in a high oven.

Date and black sesame hummus

A balance of sweet, salty and savoury, this is very moreish. We recommend it served with crumbled feta and warm pitta.
A Modern Way to Eat, Anna Jones (4th Estate)

Serves 4
400g tin cannellini beans, drained
1 tbsp olive oil
4 medjool dates, roughly chopped
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ tbsp miso paste
Sea salt
2 tbsp date syrup, honey or agave syrup
2 tbsp toasted black sesame seeds

1 Put your beans into a food processor with the olive oil, dates, lemon juice, miso and a pinch of salt and whizz to your preferred consistency. Taste, add more salt if necessary, and loosen with a bit of water or more olive oil if it looks too thick.

2 Once the texture is how you like it, scoop it into a bowl, drizzle with the date syrup and sprinkle with the black sesame seeds.

Sticky sesame wings

Chicken thighs work equally well here. Serve with rice and an ice-cold beer. The epitome of finger-lickin’ good.
Deb Perelman,

Serves 4
1.5kg chicken wings
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1-2 tbsp mild honey to taste
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
A pinch of cayenne or dash of sriracha
1½ tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 spring onion, finely chopped

1 Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Line a large shallow baking tin with foil and lightly oil it.

2 Mix the garlic, salt, soy, hoisin, honey, sesame oil and cayenne or sriracha, then tip in the chicken wings and stir to coat.

3 Spread wings and any sauce that fell to the bottom of the bowl out on the prepared baking pan in one layer. Roast, turning over once, until cooked through– about 35 minutes. Transfer to a large serving bowl and toss with the sesame seeds and spring onion.

Tahini chocolate puddings

Giving the beloved chocolate fondant a sesame twist with tahini, these rock our worlds. The number of puddings you make will depend on the size of your mould – you can use dariole moulds or even ovenproof teacups.
Maria Elia, Smashing Plates (Kyle Books)

Makes 4–6
150g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
30g cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
3 tbsp sesame seeds
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
3 free-range eggs
200g caster sugar
5 tbsp tahini
70g plain flour
A pinch of salt

To serve
Zest of 1 lime
Creme fraiche or ice-cream

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease your moulds with butter and dust them with cocoa powder. Sprinkle the base of each with sesame seeds.

2 Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, but make sure the bowl doesn’t actually touch the water. Stir until melted and smooth, then remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

3 Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl for a good 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add the tahini and stir until combined, then gradually whisk in the cooled chocolate. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into the chocolate mixture and fold in. Pour the mixture into the moulds and put on a baking tray.

4 Cook the puddings for 12–14 minutes. They should be a little soggy – so a skewer inserted will not come out clean, but you’ll have a lovely fudge-like centre! Depending on the size of your moulds, you may need to cook them for a little less, or a little longer.

5 Cool slightly before gently turning out. Dust with cocoa powder and grate a little lime zest over the top, and serve with creme fraiche or ice-cream. The mixture can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for two days, although you’ll need to allow a few minutes’ more cooking time if cooking from cold.

Smashing Plates, Maria Elia (Kyle Books)

Ginger, citrus and black sesame carrots with edamame and avocado

Photograph: Tamin Jones for the Guardian

This crunchy Asian-inspired salad is as vibrant to taste as it is to look at, and great for lunchboxes.
Laura Wright,

Serves 6-8 as a side
5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
100g frozen shelled edamame, thawed
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
A big handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
½ ripe avocado, peeled and chopped

For the ginger citrus dressing
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
1½ tbsp agave nectar/raw honey
2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 drops of toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral-tasting oil

1 Combine the carrot matchsticks, thawed edamame, sesame seeds and chopped coriander in a large bowl. Season the whole mixture with salt and pepper and toss lightly with your hands. Set aside.

2 In a small-medium bowl, combine the orange juice, lime juice, salt and pepper, agave nectar, ginger and sesame oil. Whisk it all together until incorporated. While whisking with one hand, slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil until the dressing comes together.

3 Pour the dressing over the carrot and edamame mixture. Toss to combine. Top with the chopped avocado pieces. Garnish the dish with more sesame seeds and coriander if you like.

Sesame and banana bread

Give the faithful banana bread a little more complexity with some toasty sesame flavours. Use a mixture of black and white seeds – it looks gorgeous.
Heidi Swanson,

Serves 10
125g all-purpose flour
140g whole wheat flour
125g dark brown sugar (or muscovado)
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
200g toasted sesame seeds
80ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
340g mashed, very ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
60ml plain, whole milk yoghurt (or keffir)
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

For the glaze:
85g sifted dark brown sugar (muscovado)
55g caster sugar
4-6 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, and place a rack in the centre. Butter and flour a 23 x 13cm loaf tin, or equivalent.

2 In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, bicarb and salt. Add 150g plus 1 tbsp of the sesame seeds and combine well.

3 In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yoghurt and zest. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and bake until golden brown – about 45 minutes. You want to achieve beautiful color on the cake, but at the same time you don’t want to bake all the moisture out of it. So the minute you’re in that zone, pull it, erring on the side of under-baking versus over.

4 Transfer the tin to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out to cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. In a bowl, whisk together the sugars and the lemon juice until smooth. When the cake is completely cool, drizzle the glaze on top of the cake, spreading with a spatula to cover, and finish with the remaining sesame seeds.

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