Tahini is a delicious oil seed paste used in hummus and many other dishes in eastern mediterranean cuisine.
It is not unlike sunflower, maize and rape, or canola in that regard. However sesame seeds produce the most delicious paste called tahini. In texture it is rather like peanut butter, but the taste is quite different, having a slightly bitter, nutty flavour.
Unlike sunflower and corn (and most oils except from the olive) the oil in tahini is not solvent-extracted - you get the whole seed, germ, lignans, oil and all. Always look for cold pressed oils, but they are difficult to find. Traces of the solvents (highly toxic) remain in the oil.
Of course, if you want to know more about the queen of the oils, read more from our olive garden nutrition page; it's cold pressed.
Nothing more need be said of course about sesame seeds sprinkled on a bun. Yum, delicious and healthy.
But, there is a BUT, and it is a big one. Those sesame seeds will pass straight through the gut, undigested, unless you chew them thoroughly, and potentially get stuck in any diverticuli in the gut.
Just bite and swallow and you get zero value from the rich nutrients and lignans in sesame seeds.
Don't forget those lignans; they are anti just about everything; cancer, oxidation and arthritis, and it has proven by strong research; but there is a solution to the problem of whole sesame: tahini.
It's known that the ancient Egyptians, the Romans and early Chinese all used tahini. Today sesame seeds are grown worldwide, and is especially loved by Middle Eastern families.
I confess that when I moved to Europe I would never even heard of tahini; now we enjoy it every single day without fail, mostly in the homemade hummus.
The plant stands about 5 feet high. Once the seeds are harvested, they are soaked in water, dehusked, crushed, lightly toasted and then ground, producing a paste that is slightly grey in appearance, but not unlike peanut butter in consistency.
Nicer we think, partly as you can buy it without the sugar and hydrogenated oil usually added to peanut butter.
But some do like it sweet. Greek manufacturers make a mixture of tahini and honey; delicious.
Tahini is used in a wide range of Middle Eastern foods like hummus, falafel, baba ghanoush and various Greek sweet meats.
Whilst we are perhaps only used to seeing sesame seeds on buns and rolls, that is really not the best way to enjoy them. Firstly the uncracked seed is not absorbed in the gut, and secondly they may get trapped in fistulas.
Mostly we are not into processed foods, but it does seem that tahini is more readily absorbed than sesame seeds, unless you fletcherise; chew every mouthful 32 times.
Sesame tahini is in our opinion much nicer than peanut butter but with a similar consistency.
Quick hummus can be made literally in five minutes; I'm not exaggerating; but you do need that sesame tahini.
Tahini paste is used extensively in making quick hummus (a chickpea garbanzo bean dip), but also for salads, desserts, with soups and meat stews and many other dishes like Baba Ghanoush. We particularly enjoy it on bread, using it to mop up the juice left over from a salad.
The plant is particularly drought resistant, hence its popularity in the Middle East where it is a great favourite.
Tahini has excellent nutritional value with a high protein (18%) and
zero cholesterol oil composition. Cholesterol alcohol can help further.
Seed oils, from nuts and some fruits like the olive and avocado are the healthiest fats; but how they are processed is vitally important.
Sesame tahini is very high in healthy mono unsaturated oleic, an omega-9, though not as high as in olive oil, and the PUFA linoleic acid.
Oleic acid, the omega-9, is not an essential fat; it can be manufactured from others, but linoleic is indeed and must be obtained from the diet.
Essential fatty acids, means that the body cannot manufacture them and you cannot live without them. It is thought that a deficiency may be the cause, or part of the instigation of the serious diseases of the fatty myelin sheath; horror sicknesses like Motor Neuron Disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's.
Chiropractic is all about joints, but also about the nervous system. Sickly nerves that don't conduct for whatever reason, be it pinched or irritated nerves, demyelination or other lies at the heart of our web site. Getting well adjusted by your DC is not enough if you're not eating properly.
It has special interest for vegans as sesame seeds contain high quantities of the amino acids methionine and tryptophan, which are missing from most other vegetable protein sources.
The phyto-oestrogen properties means that it reduces the bad low density cholesterol, whilst raising the HDL, and the lignans compete at the breast sites with circulating hormones, reducing the risk of tumours.
Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, vitamin B and iron, and thus especially good for women. Have you seen the new research that shows that women who take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis have a significantly higher incidence of cardiovascular disease? That calcium is deposited in the coronary arteries too. Let your food be your medicine. Causes of osteoporosis makes for sobering reading.
You may have to frequent the Turkish and Lebanese shops to find tahini. It's not expensive.
Alternatively make your own tahini.
How to make tahini at home. Easy...
Make your own homemade tahini; it's dead easy. And a tenth of the price if you buy your sesame seeds in kilogram bags. HOW TO MAKE TAHINI ...
Another good reason to make your own tahini is that the commercial varieties are dehusked, removing the vital lignans. Toast and grind your own sesame seeds, it's so easy.
What are phytosterols is an interesting and important question; they are fatty compounds with a structure very similar to cholesterol. They are found in virtually all plants but are especially high in sesame tahini.
The typical Western diet today has a serious deficiency of phytosterols; it is no secret why so many folk are having to take statins, despite their nasty side effects like impotence and tingling in feet and legs.
They are absolutely essential in the fight against tumours, prostate enlargement and high cholesterol.
There's no one I'm sure who will not answer in the affirmative that they have no desire to have any of those problems. Phytosterols are for you, if you really do not want to get a neoplasm, or take pills for the rest of your life. Are you willing to add a few delicious foods to the menu?
Sometimes taste buds have to be retrained, but surely it is worth it; not only other people get malignant disease.
Once you have tasted sesame tahini you will be hooked for life.
Researchers publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people reducing the saturated fat (as in dairy and red meat) and increasing the monounsaturated fat like the oleic acid in olive oil and sesame tahini and more energy, and it enhances mood.
Baba Ghanoush is one of my favourite dips. Not just because of its delicious taste, but because the combination of eggplant and sesame tahini makes a winning combination in the fight against high cholesterol. Then you can have your butter and eat it.
Healthy living tips is full of small suggestions to ensure you have a fighting chance of reaching 80 with all your marbles intact; sesame tahini is just one of many.
Flax seed is sesame tahini's first cousin. We try to enjoy flax and sesame seeds every day in one form or another. Flax seeds are even richer in lignans (between them they are the two richest sources by a mile), but also in anti inflammatory omega 3.
Okay, so we have introduced here three fairly radical foods for many people. Sesame tahini, flax seed and chickpeas. Perhaps you are thinking, this is over the top; this chiropractor is a health nut.
I will admit to it; my parents died of cancer and emphysema. I have close family with heart disease and and the big C; this week a close friend went for bypass surgery. I really have no desire to go through the suffering they are experiencing. I would rather be a health nut, even if a few taunts come with it.
Does this echo in your heart? Are you willing to ring in a few simple changes? Start with sesame tahini and quick hummus on a green salad every day. It's not rocket science. The step up to better health, and avoiding cancer, is close at hand.
Make the changes now before it's too late. Tomorrow a close family member goes for a mastectomy; are we going to accept these are inevitable, or are we going to do everything in our power to make sure we don't have to go through that sort of suffering?
Sesame tahini and quick hummus makes a fantastic start to your new health nut lifestyle; I'm not ashamed of the appellation. I really do want to reach a healthy eighty with all my marbles intact; do you not agree?
Officially we are talking about what are called functional foods; those that promote health and help prevent disease. Seeds and nuts have a very important role in reducing the mortality from heart stroke diabetes by nearly 10% when consumed daily.
It is a fine line though; avoid falling into the health nut neurosis trap.
This chiropractic help site is unashamedly about better overall well-being; what point is there if you have perfectly healthy joints but drop dead because you are eating crap, or not getting enough exercise? This sesame tahini page is just one little avenue that I have pursued; it is one of the reasons we take no medication at all, and why my PSA is 0.9 and my cholesterol 164.
If a life without medication means being a health nut, I have no qualms; drugs are the third most common cause of death after heart disease and metastatic disease. As a chiropractor I'm just as passionate about a strong heart and blood vessels as non arthritic joints.
It is just one more reason why you might contemplate taking out no personal medical insurance.