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You may have come across the term tahini before, especially if you are a hummus aficionado. Tahini is a type of thick sauce or paste made from toasted ground hulled sesame. The condiment is equally tasty and healthy and comes with various nutritional benefits. Tahini is of two types, hulled and unhulled. Unhulled tahini has more nutritional value than the hulled one as it is made from sesame seeds that are whole. It is also called as sesame seed butter  .
[Source: Organic Authority]
The thick sauce/paste has been used in Eastern cuisines for thousands of years and has a rich taste of toasted sesame, along with an earthy flavour. Due to its nutritional benefits, tahini is gaining popularity in Western culture now. But the high-fat content of the thick paste has to be taken into consideration before consuming it in large quantities . The New York Times recognised tahini as being one of the 'mother sauces', due to its depth and versatility.
Tahini can be used in various ways - you can drizzle it over fresh vegetables (salad), use it as a healthy alternative to toast spreads, add it to soups to thicken its consistency and give it a slightly nutty taste, use it as a dip and pair it with meat (roasted chicken). Tahini is one of the best post-workout snacks when paired with apple slices  . Read ahead to know more about the nutritional properties and health benefits offered by the tasty and healthy paste made from sesame.
Nutritional Value Of Tahini
100 grams of tahini has 595 calories of energy, 0.473 mg of riboflavin, 0.693 mg of pantothenic acid, and 0.149 mg of vitamin B6.
The remaining nutrients in 100 grams of tahini are as follows  :
- 3 g carbohydrates
- 53.76 g fat
- 17 g protein
- 3.05 g water
- 67 mcg vitamin A
- 1.220 mg thiamine
- 5.450 mg niacin
- 98 mcg folate
- 426 mg calcium
- 8.95 mg iron
- 95 mg magnesium
- 1.456 mg manganese
- 732 mg phosphorus
- 414 mg potassium
- 115 mg sodium
- 4.62 mg zinc
Health Benefits Of Tahini
The Middle Eastern condiment is packed with various benefits for your body when consumed in a controlled manner. 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 fibre - tahini can aid in maintaining hormonal balance to improving your bone strength   .
1. Reduces blood pressure
Tahini has a good content of potassium, which can be beneficial in managing your blood pressure levels. The antioxidants present in it also helps by reducing inflammation and blood pressure. Likewise, the plant lignans in sesame seeds can benefit you by improving your blood lipid profiles, thereby normalising your blood pressure levels  .
2. Improves heart health
Sesame seeds, which are used for making tahini are rich in sesamolin and sesamin and help prevent cardiovascular diseases. Tahini can be beneficial in improving your heart health by clearing out any disruptions within your arteries and prevent the onset of acute coronary syndrome and cardiovascular death .
3. Manages cholesterol level
The phytosterols present in tahini, called beta-sitosterols, are extremely beneficial in lowering your cholesterol levels. Although, it has a high-fat content, tahini consists of good fats, including monounsaturated fats, which has the ability to improve your cholesterol profile  .
4. Maintains hormone balance
Rich in phytoestrogens, tahini can be beneficial for women going through menopause. Not only that, it is basically good for maintaining hormonal balance in women. Consuming tahini can help control and reduce hormonal fluctuations  .
5. Manages arthritis
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, consuming tahini can help prevent the onset of arthritis. The omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation throughout your body, including the joints. An individual suffering from arthritis can benefit from consuming tahini  .
6. Improves bone health
Packed with various minerals such as copper, phosphorus, calcium, and iron, tahini is naturally beneficial for your bone health. The presence of these minerals helps improve your bone density and prevent the onset of age-related issues such as brittle bones and osteoporosis  .
7. Aids weight loss
Although it has a high-fat content, the controlled consumption of tahini can help in losing some weight. Due to the protein content in the condiment, it makes you feel full and limit the need to constantly snack. The proteins also aid in improving your metabolism, thereby further aiding weight loss  .
8. Boosts immune system
Packed with a plethora of minerals such as zinc, selenium, iron, and copper, tahini can help improve and strengthen your immune system. The minerals help fight off the viral and bacterial infections and facilitate the production of germ-fighting white blood cells. Likewise, the selenium content in tahini can aid the functioning of the enzymes, which helps in the release of antibodies .
9. Improves brain health
Packed with healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the thick paste of sesame can aid in boosting the development of the nervous tissues in the body. This aids in improving your brain health and slows down the onset of Alzheimer's disease  . The manganese content contributes toward enhancing your nerve and brain function and the omega-3 fatty acids help improve your memory and cognitive process.
10. Fights off cancer
An excellent source of antioxidants, tahini provides you cancer-fighting antioxidants. Antioxidants such as lignans help lower the risk of hormone-related cancers, including breast, uterus, ovarian and prostate cancer .
How To Make Home-made Tahini
The healthy and tasty thick spread is easy to make. You do not have to run to a supermarket every time you wish to enjoy the delicacy  .
- 1 cup sesame seeds
- 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- Toast the sesame seeds in a wide saucepan over medium-low heat to enhance the nutty flavour.
- Stir the seeds constantly until they become lightly coloured and fragrant.
- Then, transfer the seeds to a baking sheet to cool.
- Grind the sesame seeds in a food processor for one minute until they form a crumbly paste.
- Add olive oil into the mixture, one tablespoon at a time.
- Process for two minutes and scrape down the sides as required.
- Stop once the mixture forms a thick and smooth paste.
- If desired, you may add olive oil to the paste.
Healthy Recipes With Tahini
1. Honey flax tahini banana bread
- 3 extra ripe bananas, mashed (about 1½ cups mashed banana)
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 cup tahini
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup flaxseed meal
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Banana slices and black sesame seeds, for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spray the loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the mashed banana, honey, tahini, egg, vanilla, and almond milk until smooth.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, flaxseed meal, sesame seeds, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
- Add the whole wheat pastry flour mix into the mashed banana mix, blend well.
- Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth top with a spatula.
- Place banana slices on top of the batter and sprinkle some black sesame seeds.
- Bake for 55-65 minutes or until the tester comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let it cool completely.
2. Vegan potato salad with herbed tahini sauce
- ½ cup baby potatoes
- ½ potatoes halved
- 1 cup tahini sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon mustard
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Boil the potatoes in a large bowl for about 10 minutes, and add salt.
- For the tahini sauce, add the sauce, lemon juice, almond milk, garlic, mustard, parsley, cilantro, dill, salt and pepper to a blender, and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Once the potatoes are ready, drain them and transfer to a bowl and place them in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Once the potatoes are cooled, slice them into ½ inch rounds and place in a bowl.
- Drizzle or toss with tahini dressing.
- It has a high fat and calorie content, so avoid consuming in large quantities to avoid weight gain  .
- The lectin content in tahini may cause leaky gut by restricting the proper absorption of nutrients.
- Excessive consumption can also result in abnormal endocrine function and increased blood viscosity  .
- The high omega-6 content may cause an imbalance with your omega-3 levels  .
- Individuals allergic to nuts should avoid consuming it, as it may cause inflammation or redness.
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