Glossary of Foods: Sesame Seeds

| Diet & Nutrition

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Sesame seeds are a tiny food with big time flavor! They have a seemingly endless application in different cuisines, from topping your favorite Chinese takeout dish, mixed into hummus, or added into breads and baked goods. These nutty little wonders are also surprisingly healthy for all their rich flavor!

sesame seeds

Sesame seeds grow in pods on a flowering plant native to Africa and India. The tiny, flat seeds are also one of the oldest known oilseed crops, domesticated over 3,000 years ago. Sesame plants can tolerate drought conditions and high heat making them a very hardy plant that needs little farming attention. The most common type of sesame is off-white in color, but there are also tan, gold, brown, red, and black varieties. Some seeds are pressed for their rich oil, but most are used whole and roasted. Sesame is also ground and made into tahini paste, a popular nut butter alternative.

High in an alphabet of vitamins and minerals, sesame seeds are a healthful food that deserve to be more than a garnish or accessory in your meals! Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper, manganese, calcium, iron and zinc. The oil of sesame seeds provides a great source of omega-6 fatty acid. Additionally, the phytosterols in sesame seeds, a plant compound similar to good cholesterol, helps lower bad LDL cholesterol in the blood.

>> Read more: 5 Foods to Lower Cholesterol

Because sesame seeds have such a mild, nutty flavor, they are so easy to add into dishes you already enjoy! You can pick up sesame seeds at any well-stocked grocery store in the spice aisle or bulk foods. For a flavorful and healthful dinner, try our Sesame Crusted Chicken. Or for an easy, homemade take on take-out, there's Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken. Also try adding sesame seeds to sweet or savory muffins, atop salads, or with seared fresh fish.

Sesame Crusted Chicken with fried rice