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Health Benefits of Black Sesame Seeds and How to Eat Them

11 mins read
Rashida Ruwa
Written by Rashida Ruwa on November 16, 2022
Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Ievgeniia Dobrynina is the Head of Nutrition and a fact checker at Unimeal.

The Unimeal team works to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information. All texts are reviewed by a panel of experts and editors and updated according to the latest research. Only evidenced-based and verified sources of leading medical publications and universities get into the article materials.

Black sesame seeds have been around for centuries, with some sources claiming they were used as early as 2000 BCE. They are one of the most versatile ingredients in any pantry.

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You might know them as the crunchy, nutty little seeds that add a beautiful dark hue to everything from cookies to salads. But did you know that black sesame seeds are known for their antioxidant properties? Antioxidants are chemicals that help your body fight free radicals, which can damage healthy cells and lead to chronic health conditions like cancer.

Black sesame seeds are also high in other nutrients: proteins, fiber, calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, and manganese. There's no doubt that these seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. So, why not give them a try?

What Are Black Sesame Seeds

These are tiny, black, tear-shaped seeds made from an annual flowering plant called the sesame plant (Sesamum indicum), the same plant that produces white sesame seeds. This plant has been cultivated for thousands of years in Africa and Asia, where it is still grown. Black sesame seeds have a nutty flavor and rich, buttery texture and add a unique flavor to many dishes like baked goods, roasted vegetables, and stir-fries.

Plus, they are rich in several nutrients: According to the Food Data Central, 2 Tbsp (14g) of black sesame seeds contains the following:

  • Calories: 100 kcal
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Carbs: 4 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Copper: 0.74 mg
  • Manganese: 0.42 mg
  • Calcium: 180 mg
  • Magnesium: 64 mg
  • Iron: 2.7 mg
  • Phosphorus: 110 mg
  • Zinc: 1.35 mg

What Are Black Sesame Seeds Good For?

These seeds are more than just the pretty, shiny garnish that tops your favorite dish. They're packed with a ton of health benefits, and here's why you should add them to your diet.

1. May help lower blood pressure

The extensive range of nutrients in these little seeds may help lower your blood pressure. They are rich in magnesium, an essential mineral that helps keep your heart rhythm steady, and are also high in arginine. This essential amino acid helps to open and relax blood vessels which may loweryour blood pressure.

2. Improves digestion 

They contain a compound called sesamin that helps to break down fats in your gut. This makes it easier for your body to absorb nutrients from foods.

Sesamin also helps to reduce inflammation in the body. This means less bloating, gas, and abdominal pain for people with digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a chronic disorder that causes abdominal pain and discomfort.

The high fiber content in black sesame seeds can improve symptoms of constipation and help you feel full longer, reducing hunger cravings between meals.

3. Rich in antioxidants 

They are a great source of flavonoids and phenolic acids, linked to improved heart health. Antioxidants also protect against stroke and Alzheimer's disease.

4. Lowers risk for diabetes

Black sesame seeds can help lower your risk for diabetes because they're rich in fiber, which helps keep blood sugar levels in check. They are also rich in magnesium, which helps your body regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. This may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.  

5. Good for your bones

Bone health is vital for everyone, but it becomes imperative as you age because bones tend to become more brittle over time. These seeds are a great source of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. All three of these minerals are essential to healthy bones. In addition, calcium and phosphorus also play a role in supporting muscle function.

6. Improves heart health

They are rich in magnesium which helps keep your arteries healthy by relaxing blood vessels, as mentioned above. This helps ensure that blood flow remains steady throughout the body, including your heart, and reduces your risk of strokes or heart attacks.

7. May prevent anemia

Anemia is a condition that occurs when you don't have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin to carry oxygen around the body. It can lead to fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and pale skin. To prevent anemia, you need to eat iron-rich foods like black sesame seeds.

8. May help in weight loss

Black sesame seeds have a lot of fiber which means that when you eat them, your body has to work harder to digest them. That means that your metabolism gets a boost and does three things: it increases your energy levels, helps to burn fat more efficiently, and keeps you full for more extended periods after eating them, which is key when trying to lose weight.

9. Help reduce inflammation in your body.

Inflammation happens when your body is trying to heal itself after an injury or another type of trauma. This process causes swelling and redness in the area where the injury occurred, making you feel uncomfortable and sometimes even painful if it happens in a place like your joints or muscles where bones meet each other.  Black sesame seeds help reduce inflammationArray because they contain antioxidant compounds called polyphenols.

Possible Risks

Just like with any other food, there are some risks associated with eating black sesame seeds. Here are a few things to be aware of:

1. Black sesame seeds can cause an allergic reaction in some people

Research has proven that sesame allergy is likely to affect at least 1 million children and adults in the United States.

An allergic reaction is when your immune system reacts to a substance that it thinks is harmful, but actually isn't. This can happen when you eat something like nuts or black sesame seed and your body thinks they're harmful invaders. 

The result is that your body releases chemicals called histamines to help fight off the threat, which causes symptoms like:

  • itching around your mouth and throat
  • swelling in your face and tongue
  • difficulty in breathing
  • hives and itching
  • nausea and vomiting

So, if you have allergies to nuts or nut products, you may want to avoid black sesame seeds because they might trigger an allergic reaction in your body.

2. Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)

Although black seeds are generally safe to eat, large amounts may cause blood sugar levels to drop in people with diabetes or who are on blood sugar-lowering medications.

It's best to consult with your doctor before eating black sesame seeds if you're not sure whether or not you have an allergy or intolerance and need help identifying it or if you have diabetes.

What Is The Difference Between Black and White Sesame Seeds

Black sesame seeds are unhulled, which means they still have that fibrous shell around them. They're great for cooking because they add a crunchy texture and a deep, nutty flavor to your dishes. But they're also good just as they are: sprinkle them on salads and yogurt or use them as a garnish for an Asian-inspired meal.

White sesame seeds are hulled, which means the fibrous shells are removed during processing and then discarded, so these little guys are ready to go right into your recipe.

They're also tastier and easier to digest, which means they're great for people who have trouble digesting other types of seed oils or nuts like peanuts.

But there's more to these little seeds than their outer fibrous shells. Check out this list of nutritional differences:

1 tbsp (9 g) of Black sesame seeds

  • Protein 1.59 g
  • Fats 4.47 g
  • Calcium 87.8 mg
  • Manganese 31.6 mg
  • Phosphorus 56.6 mg
  • Iron 1.31 mg
  • Magnesium 31.6 mg

1 tbsp (8 g) of White sesame seeds

  • Protein 1.63 g
  • Fats 4.9 g
  • Calcium 4.8 mg
  • Manganese 0.115 mg
  • Phosphorus 53.4 mg
  • Iron 0.509 mg
  • Magnesium 27.6 mg

How to Eat Black Sesame Seeds

These seeds are a great addition to your diet, and here are some tips on how to eat them:

1. Try sprinkling black sesame seeds on salads for a nutty, crunchy texture that will make your salad stand out from the rest. If you don't want your salad soggy, try putting them on top after it's done cooking; they won't lose their crunch.

2. If you're not ready to ditch all your white bread but want an alternative to mayonnaise or butter on your sandwich, try adding a thin layer of black sesame seed paste instead. It tastes similar but has more vitamins than regular mayonnaise or butter. 

3. Dump some in if you want to add them to tea or coffee. The flavor goes great with either hot beverages or cold ones. Just make sure they're cold.

4. Sprinkle them on top of a bowl of rice. Like white sesame seeds, they'll give your carb-heavy meal a bit of crunchy texture and a pop of nutty flavor.

5. Add them to a smoothie or protein shake to boost fiber and minerals. Make sure not to blend them too much; you don't want your smoothie turning into milk.

6. Eat them straight from the bag as a snack. They're delicious. However, remember that there is about 9 g of fat per tablespoon, so don't eat too many seeds at once.

7. Make homemade sesame butter by blending black sesame seeds with coconut oil until it becomes creamy. It's great on toast or as an alternative to peanut butter in sandwiches and salads.

8. Sprinkle them on top of roasted vegetables or grilled chicken. The nutty flavor of black sesame seeds is perfect for the savory side of your plate, so they're great when used as a topping on roasted veggies or grilled chicken.

9. Add them to hummus or other dips for an extra-nutty kick. Black sesame seeds have a distinct flavor, and you'll find that they're not quite like any other seed, and they add a rich, velvety texture to hummus without overpowering it. 

10. Bake them into cookies or sprinkle them over ice cream for dessert. If you've never tried baking cookies with black sesame seeds before, we highly recommend it. The flavor is subtle but very satisfying, and the texture gives your cookies a fantastic crunchy texture that's hard to resist.

How to Clean Black Sesame Seeds

There are a few simple steps that will ensure that your sesame seeds are clean and ready for eating: 

1. Place the seeds in a bowl of water. 

2. Swish them around gently for about 15 seconds.

3. Remove them from the bowl and run them under cold water until all the dirt is gone from their surface. This should take no longer than 30 seconds.

4. Drain the water, then spread the sesame seeds on a paper towel and let them dry completely before storing them in an airtight container or baggie.

How Much Black Sesame Seeds to Eat Per Day

There's no official daily recommendation for how much black sesame seeds people should eat. Most experts agree that eating just one serving (about 1 tbsp) per day is plenty for most people.

Meal Ideas

1. Black Sesame Seed Chicken Salad with Apples and Peanuts

This dish is perfect for lunch or dinner. It's light enough to be enjoyed on a warm summer day but hearty enough to hit the spot on a cold winter evening. The apples and peanuts add some crunch and texture to the salad, while the sesame seeds add a nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with chicken. 

2. Black Sesame Seed Pasta with Asparagus and Garlic Cream Sauce

This is an excellent dish for someone who wants something simple but delicious for dinner. It's easy to make and has just enough flavor to feel like you're treating yourself without feeling like you're going overboard on calories or fat content. Plus, it's got plenty of veggies in there. That means more vitamins.

3. Black Sesame Seed Hummus

This is a great party dip or appetizer that's easy to make at home with simple ingredients like chickpeas, garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt or pepper, and of course, black sesame seeds. Just throw everything in a food processor and blend until smooth or chunky, if you prefer. Be sure to taste-test before serving; you might want to add more lemon juice or tahini for more flavor. Serve with pita bread or chips for an easy snack-time treat.

4. Black Sesame Noodle Bowl

This is a great meal for a rainy day or if you're craving something warm and cozy. The noodles are super easy to make. Boil them until they're al dente, then toss them in a pan with sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Top with veggies of your choice and serve alongside your favorite protein. It's an easy way to make sure you're getting all the nutrients you need during the cold season.

5. Black Sesame Seed Chicken Salad

This salad is perfect for lunch or dinner, and it's great for those who don't like to cook. Simply cook chicken breasts according to package instructions and mix with sesame seeds, chopped celery, chopped carrots, and mayonnaise. Serve on top of lettuce leaves or in a bowl alongside other vegetables.

6. Black Sesame Quinoa Bowls With Maple-Glazed Tofu 

These bowls are full of grains, vegetables, and protein, everything you need for a meal on the go. And they're super easy to make: sauté some veggies with black sesame oil and quinoa until everything is cooked through, then top it with tofu that's been marinated in maple syrup and soy sauce for an extra kick of sweetness. This combination will keep your energy levels up for hours.

Summing up

Black sesame seeds are a great way to get some great health benefits. They are rich in nutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper, and iron, all of which help your body maintain good health overall.

As a bonus, they taste amazing, and there are many ways to add them to your daily diet.  You can sprinkle them on salads or stir-fries or add them to smoothies and oatmeal. 

If you're looking for a way to add some healthy goodness to your diet, look no further than black sesame seeds. 

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Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

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