What are black sesame seeds?
Black and white sesame seeds come from the same plant, sesame seeds: a bushy green plant reminiscent of overgrown basil. White sesame seeds are the product of black sesame seeds after removing the black shell (or husk). Therefore, they have the same botanical name. Black sesame seeds have been a staple food for over 5,000 years and have been particularly influential in Chinese culture for centuries.
These tiny, dark seeds have a mild, nutty, earthy flavor that's perfect for a variety of savory dishes and even some sweet dishes. You can also use them to add a satisfying crunch to any dish (something white dishes can't do) since their crusts remain intact.
Benefits of black sesame seeds
Since black and white sesame seeds come from the same plant, their health benefits are very similar. However, because black sesame seeds retain their outer shell, they provide enhanced nutrition and increased levels of plant compounds, vitamins, and minerals.
Enhance gut health
Black sesame seeds are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. This helps keep digestion regular while solving digestive problems like diarrhea and constipation. Additionally, the fiber in black sesame seeds nourishes the healthy bacteria that make up the gut microbiome, improving overall health in addition to gut health.
Rich in plant compounds
These seeds are rich in immune-boosting plant compounds, especially sesamol, phytosterols, and lignans (such as sesamin). These compounds have potent antioxidant effects, helping to reduce inflammation and eliminate free radicals associated with chronic and aging-related diseases. A review published in the journal Molecules echoes this, noting that compounds found in black sesame seeds have anti-diabetic, anti-cancer and anti-aging properties.
May improve heart health
This little superfood even has properties that improve heart health. This is partly due to their high concentration of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats: unsaturated fats like these are considered heart-healthy fats; they have a positive effect on cholesterol levels in our blood and don’t Can lead to plaque buildup in blood vessels or blockage of arteries. This study found that sesame seeds can help lower blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure or long-term hypertension.
Regulate blood sugar
Black sesame seeds can play a role in regulating blood sugar. The healthy fats they contain (as well as the fiber content) help slow digestion and blunt blood sugar response. This causes blood sugar to gradually rise, giving the body more time to metabolize sugar efficiently. Research confirms these benefits, including one study that revealed blood sugar-lowering effects in people with type 1 diabetes.
Provides many other nutrients
Black sesame seeds are rich in many other nutrients—protein, B vitamins, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. All of these (except B vitamins) are essential for building healthy bones, maintaining lustrous skin and hair, and more. Meanwhile, protein and B vitamins help maintain healthy energy levels to help you get through your busiest days.
How to enjoy black sesame seeds
Given that this ingredient is somewhat niche, you may be wondering how to incorporate them into your daily routine. You can find black sesame seeds in their whole form online and in most grocery stores, and they are also available in oil or capsule form as a dietary supplement.
When considering how to add whole black sesame seeds to your daily diet, here are some delicious cooking options:
- Sprinkle over salads and soups
- Stir into vegetables, noodles or rice
- Use as a crust for protein foods such as fish, chicken, tofu, or rice paper wrappers
- Mix into black sesame tahini and add to dressings, dips and sauces
- Mix with vegetables into cheese for a hearty snack
- Added to certain baked goods (usually cookies) for those brave and creative bakers out there
- Black sesame oil can be used in cooking like toasted sesame oil or as a flavoring in many dishes, but it especially shines in Asian-inspired dishes