Updated: Dec 28, 2022
Sesame seeds - tahini's single ingredient - is one of the oldest crops known to humanity; originally it was mainly used as a source of oil. The oldest mention of sesame is in a cuneiform document written 4,000 years ago that describes the custom of serving the god sesame wine.
Sesame seeds in a form of paste (tahini) are mentioned as an ingredient of hummus Kasa, a recipe transcribed in an anonymous 13th-century Arabic cookbook. Mysteriously, some hundreds of years later, tahini made its way to the western mainstream just like that - as an ingredient in hummus. In Middle Eastern cuisines, however, this bittersweet nutty flavored paste is considered one of the most versatile pantry staples and it is being used in endless sweet and savory dishes. Tahini is also praised for its beneficial, wholesome ingredient, and is considered a healthy addition to everyone's diet. Listed below are some of these nutritious highlights:
Packed with vitamins & minerals, tahini is a good source of B vitamins (B1, and B6 that participate in the energy creation process) along with important minerals such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron, and zinc. Up to 20% of the sesame seed is a complete protein, making it a high protein source than most nuts and seeds.
Sesame seeds are one of the top sources of calcium - an essential mineral for nerve and muscle function, and for bone health. Sesame seeds contain almost triple the amount of calcium than in milk per gram, making it a great addition to a vegan diet and for those who are sensitive to dairy.
About 50% of the fat in raw tahini comes from monounsaturated fatty acids. This type of healthy plant-based fat helps lower harmful cholesterol levels as well as lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Two tablespoons of tahini contain 2.6 mg of iron, which is 14% of the recommended daily intake. That fact place tahini in the list of the top iron-rich food.
The raw tahini contains antioxidants called lignans. Researches have shown that this quality antioxidants help prevent the damage of free radicals in our body and may reduce the risk of cancer and protect the liver from damage caused by these free radicals.
In some southern Asia and Middle Eastern countries, tahini or sesame oil are used as an home remedy to treat burns, dryness and other skin problems, thanks to its natural anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. The high zinc and copper content in sesame seeds support collagen production, giving skin more elasticity, helping it look more healthy, and repairing damaged body tissue.
It's important to remember that tahini is an energy-dense food, so consume it in moderation, or mix it with water and lemon to create a more light in calories sauce.
Find more ideas how to enjoy tahini on our recipe page.