Tahini is a paste made from ground, toasted sesame seeds. It has a robust nutty taste since sesame seeds have a peculiar flavour. As a result, tahini is way more versatile with a better savoury flavour profile and might replace your favourite nut and seed butter. You might know tahini as the primary ingredient of hummus. Therefore, if you’ve ever had hummus, you’ve also eaten tahini. However, tahini is much more than that. Ingredient-wise, tahini is just crushed sesame seeds paste. But you can use it in salads, dips, spreads, or simply on toast. In addition, it offers vitamins, protein, and healthy fats. Like other seeds and nuts, sesame seeds in tahini improve blood pressure, help lower cholesterol, and provide dietary fibre for digestion. 

Nutritional Profile of Tahini

According to USDA, 100 grams of tahini contains the following nutrients.

  • Calories: 633 Kcal
  • Protein: 16.67 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20 g
  • Fat: 53.33 g
  • Fibre: 10 g
  • Potassium: 414 mg
  • Calcium: 433 mg
  • Sodium: 115 mg
  • Iron: 9 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 5% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Magnesium: 23% of the DV

% Daily Values are as per 2000 calorie diet. Therefore, your daily values might be lower or higher depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat

Total fat is 53.33g per hundred grams, of which 6.67g is saturated fat, and unsaturated fat is 46g. Unsaturated fat is essential for the human body as it is a substrate for many lipids inside the body. However, saturated fats are rather harmful because they increase heart disease chances. Saturated fat in excess can cause cholesterol to build up in arteries. Sesame seed within tahini contains 50-60% high-quality oil, rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. It also offers natural antioxidants, sesamin, sesamolin and tocopherol homologues.

Sodium

Sodium is an essential micronutrient. RDA is less than 2300mg per day. Increased sodium concentration is known as hypernatremia and decreased concentration as hyponatremia. Hypernatremia causes increased blood pressure and heart disease, and stroke risk. In addition, hyponatremia causes lethargy and confusion. 

Tahini from roasted sesame seeds has 115 mg of sodium per 100 grams, 5% of the RDA of 2300mg per day for men 19-50 years. Therefore, tahini is relatively low in sodium levels. Hence, they may help reduce the risk of heart problems like blood pressure and stroke.

Dietary Fibre

It is an excellent dietary fibre source, 10g per 100g serving. Dietary fibres form an essential component of a balanced diet. It also helps with weight management, regulates insulin levels, and helps regulates bowel movements.

Proteins

Proteins are a significant component of the diet since they are the building blocks of the human body. Almost all the enzymes, hormones and genetic materials comprise protein. Hence it is a significant component of a balanced diet. Its RDA is 0.8 g per kg of body weight. Tahini has nearly 17 g of protein per 100 grams, which is 30.4% when your daily recommended protein intake is 56 grams.

Vitamins and Minerals

Tahini is a rich source of vitamins, especially B complex vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine and folate. Minerals are also crucial to the body because they act directly as part of essential compounds and indirectly by activating and inhibiting enzymes and associated metabolic reactions.

Just one tablespoon of tahini provides roughly 26% of the recommended daily intake of copper and 9% to 12% of zinc, iron and selenium. These minerals within tahini help fight inflammation and contribute to immune support. 

Potential Health Benefits of Tahini

Improves Bone Health 

Tahini is an excellent non-dairy source of calcium and zinc. Calcium helps with building and maintaining strong bones. Adding two tablespoons of tahini provides almost 15% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. Furthermore, zinc prevents osteoporosis and thus becomes essential in females after menopause as decreased estrogen increases the chances of bone fractures due to osteoporosis.

Boost Fertility in Men

Studies suggest that sesame seeds have antioxidants, which help increase fertility. The results state that adding sesame seed products like tahini to the diet can improve sperm count and motility. Therefore, it can be a safe and effective method to increase male fertility. 

Sesame seeds within tahini have plenty of vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds, making them one of the best fertility-boosting foods for men. In addition, sesame seeds also have antioxidant properties, which could effectively improve semen parameters. 

Tahini Improve Skin Health

Tahini contains amino acids, B vitamins, and fatty acids, forming a well-suited nutrient composition for supporting skin health. It helps with skin cell rejuvenation and prevents early signs of ageing. In addition, zinc in tahini is a collagen building block which aids the repair of tissue damage. As a result, it makes your skin firm and smooth. However, you do not have to slather tahini directly on your skin. Instead, you can eat it with plenty of greens and other whole foods to improve your skin health by boosting your fat and nutrient intake.

Lower Heart Disease Risk

The presence of high cholesterol and triglyceride levels increases your risk of heart disease. A study shows that tahini, also known as Ardeh, has shown excellent results in improving serum triglycerides and atherogenic lipid if taken by diabetic people daily with breakfast. As a result, tahini shows favourable effects in decreasing heart disease risk factors. 

Tahini Promotes Hair Growth

Tahini offers a healthy dose of protein, fat, and fibre, promoting hair growth. It is also a source of plant-based iron, necessary for hair, skin, and nail strength. In addition, tahini’s antifungal and oily nature helps reduce dandruff and dry scalp. You can use tahini in certain raw or handmade shampoo styles. 

Good for Menopausal Women

Phytoestrogens or plant-based estrogens benefit post-menopausal women over 50 or women who are otherwise low in estrogen. Tahini contains sesame seeds, which are a potent source of phytoestrogens. It helps increase oestrogen activity. A study says that sesame seeds in tahini reduce the frequency of hot flushes in menopausal women without serious side effects. Therefore, you can eat tahini to reduce menopause symptoms. However, increasing phytoestrogen intake through tahini isn’t suitable for most people. It appears to help those women transitioning from their last menstrual cycle. 

Anticancer Effects

Tahini has potential anticancer effects due to the presence of sesame seeds. It contains two antioxidants, sesamin and sesamol, responsible for its anticancer nature. Studies show that sesamol in tahini can protect you against colorectal carcinoma cells. Moreover, tahini’s antioxidants and polyphenols can prevent cancer-causing free radical damage and slow down the tumour growth rate. 

Potential Side Effects of Tahini

Tahini is safe to eat and has no or almost negligible side effects. However, in excess, it can interfere with normal body metabolism. As a result, it might decrease glucose levels and also blood pressure. 

Other side effects of overeating tahini are:

  • High fibre content can cause bloating and abdominal pain.
  • Tahini might cause allergies in certain people, resulting in anaphylactic reactions. If you are allergic to sesame seeds, don’t eat tahini. 
  • Studies also reveal that sesame seeds contain oxalates. Therefore, a person with purine metabolism disorders is advised not to eat products made with sesame seeds. 

Easy and Healthy Homemade Tahini

Commercially-made tahini usually comes from 100% sesame seeds and is naturally high in oil. Therefore, it contains no additional oil. Unfortunately, you cannot extract the oil from the sesame seeds without the right equipment, which most home cooks do not have access to. If you put sesame seeds in a regular blender, you will only get dry ground sesame seeds. Hence, you should add olive oil while making tahini at home to form a paste.

This tahini recipe uses one cup of sesame seeds, making about 3/4 cup tahini paste, depending on how much olive oil you add. You’ll need at least three tablespoons of olive oil and possibly up to 1/3 cup. The amount of olive oil you add depends on how thick you want the tahini.

Serves: 2

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • Sesame seeds: 1 cup
  • Olive oil: 3 tablespoon

Method of Preparation

  • Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the sesame seeds. Be careful since sesame seeds burn very quickly.
  • Stir frequently until the sesame seeds begin to turn golden brown. Make them generously golden brown for optimal flavour.
  • Once toasted, let the seeds cool for a few minutes, then add them to a blender.
  • Add three tablespoons of olive oil and blend the mixture into a paste. Then, add more olive oil until you reach the desired consistency.

Store the tahini paste in the refrigerator in an airtight jar. Tahini has a very high oil content. Therefore, keeping it in the fridge will prevent the oil from quickly going rancid. Stir the tahini thoroughly before putting it in the refrigerator because it’s hard to stir once it’s chilled. 

Conclusion

Tahini is a popular addition to your classic homemade hummus. It is a sesame seed butter typically seen in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. Tahini is rich in vitamins, protein, and healthy fats, offering multiple health benefits when consumed in moderation. It boosts immunity, enhances bone health, increases male fertility and helps with menopausal symptoms. However, sesame seeds, the primary component of tahini, can be an allergen. While tahini is a safe alternative for nut allergies, those with sesame seed allergies must avoid it. Also, be wary of the calories in tahini as the paste is high in calories.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is tahini made of?

A. Tahini is made up of sesame seeds. It is a seed butter made from sesame seeds. First, toast sesame in a pan and blend it for 5-7 minutes. It is a famous dip among middle and southeast Asian condiments.

Q. What is a good substitute for tahini?

A. Tahini is made from sesame seeds. So substitutes for sesame seeds are flax, sunflower, chopped peanuts, and pumpkin seeds. In addition, cashew butter and almond butter have a similar consistency to tahini. 

Q. Is tahini a hummus?

A. No, tahini is not hummus. Tahini is a primary ingredient in hummus as hummus is mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Hummus tastes better than tahini as it does not have a characteristic nutty taste and bitterness.

Q. Where do I find tahini?

A. Tahini is a famous seed butter among middle and southeastern condiments people. So they can be easily found in those regions. While in metropolitan cities, you can find it in most grocery stores, tahini is either in the aisle with other condiments like peanut butter or in the grocery aisle with international foods.

Q. What can I use tahini for besides hummus?

A. Tahini is used as a dip for raw vegetables and salads. You can also use it as a sauce in many dishes, and it can be used as butter. Also, you can use it as an ingredient in burgers. It is also the main ingredient of the main course Baba Ghanoush and Halva.

Q. What does tahini taste like?

A. Tahini has a strong and nutty flavour with some bitterness as sesame seeds do not taste sweet like other seeds such as peanut and pumpkin seeds.

Q. Can I use sesame paste instead of tahini?

A. Yes, sesame paste can be used instead of tahini, and they are, from time to time, even substituted for each other. However, sesame paste has considerably different tastes from tahini. For example, you can use tahini to prepare sweet dishes, while sesame paste is for somewhat spicy foods. Tahini is a paste from sesame seeds, but it’s not the same as sesame paste. 

Q. Can I use sesame oil instead of tahini?

A. Sesame oil can be used as a substitute for tahini in many dishes because they come from the same source and have almost the same flavour profile. However, sesame oil fails to give the same texture to the foods as tahini.

Q. Is tahini healthier than peanut butter?

A. Tahini and peanut butter have almost the same fat and nutritional content. However, peanut butter contains a little more protein than tahini. But tahini is a better alternative for people with tree nut allergies.

Q. Does tahini make you fat?

A. tahini is high in fat content, so excess consumption of tahini will make you fat. However, when consumed in moderation, it will not make you fat. In addition, the nutritional values of tahini outweigh the fact that it contains fats. 

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