Sesame Seeds in Asian Cuisine

Sesame Seeds

What is it and where does it grow?

Sesame (/ˈsɛsəmiː/; Sesamum indicum) is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods.

Sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops known, domesticated well over 3000 years ago. Sesame has many species, most being wild and native to sub-Saharan Africa. Sesame indicum, the cultivated type, originated in India. Sesame is highly tolerant to drought-like conditions and grows where other crops may fail.

Myanmar, India and China are the biggest producers in the world and Japan is the world’s largest sesame importer.

What to use it for?

In America and Europe Sesame seeds are well know in bread, bagles or other baked dishes.

In Asia, sesame seeds are sprinkled onto some sushi-style foods. In Japan, whole seeds are found in many salads and baked snacks, and tan and black sesame seed varieties are roasted and used to make the flavouring gomashio. East Asian cuisines, like Chinese cuisine, use sesame seeds and oil in some dishes, such as dim sum, sesame seed balls (Chinese: 麻; pinyin: mátuǎn or 煎堆; Cantonese: jin deui), and the Vietnamese bánh rán. Sesame flavour (through oil and roasted or raw seeds) is also very popular in Korean cuisine, used to marinate meat and vegetables. Chefs in tempura restaurants blend sesame and cottonseed oil for deep-frying.

Health benefits

  • Helps treat diabetes: Studies have found that sesame oil helped improve the efficacy of the diabetes drug glibencamide in type 2 diabetes patients, as well as reduce blood pressure and blood sugar in diabetic patients with hypertension.
  • Lowers high blood pressure: Sesame oil contains peptides that inhibit biological triggers to high blood pressure.
  • Prevents gum disease: Used for many years to clean teeth and prevent disease, clinical research suggests swishing sesame oil is as effective as modern mouthwash.
  • Prevents heart disease: Studies show consuming sesame seeds prevents atherosclerosis – or plaques from forming on the arterial walls.
  • Cancer prevention: Sesame contains sesamin, a special lignin with phytoestrogenic properties that has been found to prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Sounds like we should eat more sesame seeds. But don´t eat to much. Some people can have an allergic reaction when eating sesame seeds. And sesame seeds have also a lot of calories. 100g seed have 565 kcal. So don´t eat to much if you want to lose weight 😉

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