Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Eudicots (unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales Family: Pedaliaceae Genus: Sesamum Species: S. indicum
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.
Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. With a rich nutty flavor, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world. Like other nuts and foods, it can trigger allergic reactions in some people.
The world harvested about 4.8 million metric tonnes of sesame seeds in 2013.The largest producer of sesame seeds in 2013 was Myanmar.The world’s largest exporter of sesame seeds was India, and Japan the largest importer.
It is an annual plant growing 50 to 100 cm (1.6 to 3.3 ft) tall, with opposite leaves 4 to 14 cm (1.6 to 5.5 in) long with an entire margin; they are broad lanceolate, to 5 cm (2 in) broad, at the base of the plant, narrowing to just 1 cm (0.4 in) broad on the flowering stem.
The flowers are yellow, tubular, 3 to 5 cm (1.2 to 2.0 in) long, with a four-lobed mouth. The flowers may vary in colour with some being white, blue or purple.
Sesame fruit is a capsule, normally pubescent, rectangular in section and typically grooved with a short triangular beak. The length of the fruit capsule varies from 2 to 8 cm, its width varies between 0.5 to 2 cm, and the number of loculi from 4 to 12. The fruit naturally splits open (dehisces) to release the seeds by splitting along the septa from top to bottom or by means of two apical pores, depending on the varietal cultivar. The degree of dehiscence is of importance in breeding for mechanised harvesting as is the insertion height of the first capsule.
Sesame seeds are small. The size, form and colours vary with the thousands of varieties now known. Typically, the seeds are about 3 to 4 millimeters long by 2 millimeters wide and 1 millimeter thick. The seeds are ovate, slightly flattened and somewhat thinner at the eye of the seed (hilum) than at the opposite end. The weight of the seeds is between 20 and 40 milligrams. The seed coat (testa) may be smooth or ribbed.
Sesame seeds come in many colours depending on the cultivar harvested. The most traded variety of sesame is off-white coloured. Other common colours are buff, tan, gold, brown, reddish, gray and black.
Sesame seed is sometimes sold with its seed coat removed (decorticated). This is the variety often present on top of buns in developed economies.
Sesame seeds nutrition facts
One of the first oil seeds known to humankind, sesame seeds have been widely employed in culinary as well as traditional medicines for their nutritive, preventive, and curative properties. Sesame are an important sources of phyto-nutrients such as omega-6 fatty acids, flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants, vitamins, and dietary fiber with potential anti-cancer as well as health promoting properties.
Sesame plant is a tall annual herb in the Pedaliaceae family, which grows extensively in Asia, particularly in Burma, China, and India. It is also one of the chief commercial crops in Nigeria, Sudan and Ethiopia. Scientific name: Sesamum indicum.
Sesame requires well-drained sandy soil and tropical environment to flourish. It grows about 5 feet in height and bears plenty of pink-white foxglove type flowers. The pods appear soon, containing white, brown, or black seeds depending upon the cultivar type, arranged in rows inside. Each pod (2-5 cm in length) is a long rectangular box like capsule with deep grooves on its sides. A single pod (1 to 2 inches in length) may contain up to 100 or more seeds.
Sesame seeds are small, almost oblate in shape. Toasted seeds feature pleasant, nutty flavoror.
Health benefits of sesame seeds
- Flavorful, crunchy sesame seeds are widely considered healthy foods. 100 g of seeds carry 573 calories. Although, much of its calorie comes from fats, sesame contains several notable health-benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for wellness.
- The seeds are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, which comprises up to 50% fatty acids in them. Oleic acid helps lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good cholesterol” in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet which is rich in mono-unsaturated fats help prevent coronary artery disease, and stroke by favoring healthy lipid profile.
- The seeds are also very valuable sources of dietary protein with fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth, especially in children. Just 100 g of seeds provide about 18 g of protein (32% of daily-recommended values).
- In addition, sesame seeds contain many health benefiting compounds such as sesamol (3, 4-methylene-dioxyphenol), sesaminol, furyl-methanthiol, guajacol (2-methoxyphenol), phenylethanthiol and furaneol, vinylguacol, and decadienal. Sesamol and sesaminol are phenolic anti-oxidants. Together, these compounds help stave off harmful free radicals from the human body.
- Sesame is among the seeds rich in quality vitamins, and minerals. They are very good sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and riboflavin.
- 100 g of sesame contains 97 µg of folic acid, about 25% of recommended daily intake. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis. When given to expectant mothers during their peri-conception period, it may prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.
- Niacin is another B-complex vitamin found abundantly in sesame. About 4.5 mg or 28% of daily-required levels of niacin is provided by just 100 g of seeds. Niacin helps reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn helps reduce anxiety and neurosis.
- The seeds are incredibly rich sources of many essential minerals. Calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper are especially concentrated in sesame seeds. Many of these minerals have a vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme synthesis, hormone production, as well as regulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.
Just a hand full of sesame a day provides enough recommended levels of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and protein.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||49.67 g||166%|
|Dietary Fiber||11.8 g||31%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.050 mg||1%|
|Vitamin A||9 IU||<1%|
|Vitamin E||0.25 mg||2%|
Selection and storage
Sesames can be readily available in the spice stores all around the year. You may choose from whole, husked or air-dried, toasted seeds in these stores. There may be black, brown, yellow or white color seeds packed in air-seal packs as well as in bulk bins. Husked seeds appear white.
Sesame composes significant proportions of unsaturated fats, and hence, should be stored in airtight containers to avoid them turn rancid. At home, place them in cool dark place. If stored properly, dry seeds generally stay fresh for several months. Store hulled “white” seeds always inside the refrigerator.
Avoid old, offensive smelling (rancid) seeds.
Sesame seeds have a delicate nutty flavor. Their flavor indeed becomes more pronounced once they are gently roasted under low flame heat for a few minutes.
Sesame seeds are used liberally in cooking. The seeds ground with olive or any other vegetable oils to prepare semi-solid, flavorful paste, which is then added to different cuisine.
- Dry, roasted sesame seeds and vegetable oil are ground into a thin light brown color paste known as tahini. Tahini is one of the main ingredients in famous middle-eastern dip, hummus.
- Dry fried seeds sprinkled over toasts, biscuits, breads, cakes, salads, stir fries, etc.
- The seeds are largely used in the manufacture of margarine in Europe.
- The seeds are used in many traditional south-Indian sweet delicacies, often mixed with roasted peanuts, almonds, and jaggery.
- Roasted and crushed seeds often sprinkled over salads, desserts, particularly sundaes and other cream based preparations.
- Gomashio is a Japan’s specialty, which uses ground sesame seeds.
- Sesame oil obtained from the seeds is one of the most sought after cooking oil in Malaysia, Indonesia and southern states of rural India.
Sesame seed allergy is a kind of hypersensitivity reaction in some sensitive individuals. Generally, the reactions include hives, dermatitis and itching. Sometimes, the disease manifestation may be severe and may lead to serious physical symptoms like vomiting, stomach pain, swelling of lips and throat leading to breathing difficulty, chest congestion, and death. It is, therefore, sesame products may be avoided as food in these individuals.
Nick’s kitchen medical Disclaimer:
- Nick’s kitchen is for Vegetarians. It sometimes provides education and support to individuals who want to become vegetarian, or move toward a more vegetarian diet.
- Nick’s kitchen provides some information on vegetarian and vegan diets to the best of their knowledge and abilities.
- Nick’s kitchen does not claim to be health care professional, nutritionist, nor does it claims to treat any illness through vegan or vegetarian diet.
- If you have a medical condition,Nick’s kitchen recommend that you consult your health care professionals before changing your diet.
- Any changes that you make to your diet, and the results of those changes, are your decision and your responsibility.