Introduction to Sesame Seeds
What are sesame seeds? Are they seeds from plants or being processed to turn into seed form ingredients? Sesame seeds are natural seeds that grow in pods on the flowering plant Sesamum indicum. It is one of the oldest oilseed crops known to humanity. They are native to sub-Saharan Africa and the cultivated sesame plant originated in India. The sesame plant is a robust crop that grows in poor conditions, even in thin soil, high heat, and drought conditions.
Are sesame seeds considered as nuts?
Sesame seeds are not considered as nuts but seeds. If you have nut allergies, you may be able to enjoy sesame seeds. However, bear in mind that there are some people with an allergy to sesame, just like nuts. A recent study shows that approximately 0.23% of United States children and adults are allergic to sesame.
White vs. Black Sesame seeds
The main difference between white and black sesame seeds is the color, with white sesame seeds come with white, light yellowish color and black sesame seeds are black in color. White sesame seeds are usually hulled seeds where their hulls have been removed through processing (not always the case, some unhulled sesame is yellowish-brown in color) while black sesame seeds usually are unhulled seeds with their hulls intact. Based on studies, black sesame seeds may have higher antioxidant content compared to white sesame seeds.
Unhulled vs Hulled Sesame Seeds
When the sesame seeds are harvested, the sesame seeds are still intact with the hull (outer shell or coating of the seed). After processing, most sesame seeds sold in the store or market are those with the hull removed – hulled sesame seeds. Unhulled sesame seeds are usually brownish or black in color, whereas the hulled sesame seeds are usually white or light yellowish in color.
Hulled sesame seeds are more common in the market whereas unhulled seeds are becoming more popular in the United States recently. The unhulled sesame seeds are usually harder, crunchier, and taste slightly bitter. Both hulled and unhulled sesame seeds are interchangeable ingredients for recipes, the major difference is the appearance whereby unhulled black sesame are always more striking on bread and noodles.
Do you need to wash sesame seeds?
It is not necessary to wash the sesame seeds. Most hulled sesame seeds sold in the store have been through the wet dehulling process whereby machines are used to wash and remove the hull of the seeds. The hulled seeds are usually clean. For the unhulled seeds, depending on the seller or the processing plant, they can be either raw from the sieving process or washed before packaging. It is best to soak them in water and wash them before eating or cooking.
Can you eat raw sesame seeds and is it safe?
First, do not confuse raw sesame seeds with unhulled seeds. Raw sesame seeds are those before being toasted or heated, whereas unhulled seeds could be either raw or toasted.
So, is it OK to eat raw sesame seeds? Yes, you can eat raw sesame seeds raw, and it is safe to do so. While both raw and toasted sesame seeds consist of similar quantities of vitamins, protein content, fibers, and antioxidants, the mineral content of raw sesame seeds is slightly higher compared to toasted sesame seeds.
Are sesame seeds better raw or toasted?
Toasted sesame seeds are generally crunchier and taste nuttier compared to raw sesame seeds. Just like roasted cashew nuts, most people like the toasted version of the sesame seeds since it brings out the nuttier flavor more than the raw version. When toasted and dried correctly, toasting sesame seeds makes them crunchier too. In terms of nutrition, toasted sesame seeds contain fewer minerals like calcium, selenium, and iron, whereas the rest of the nutrients like protein, fats, and vitamins remain the same.
What are sesame seeds good for?
Are sesame seeds healthy? Yes, sesame seeds are one of the healthiest foods or ingredients that you should consume in your diet. Sesame seeds have lots of health benefits and they are also used in medicine for a long time. Sesame seed is a good source of fiber, protein, healthy fats, calcium, vitamins, minerals like iron and copper. They help to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and support blood sugar control. Sesame seeds are also rich in antioxidants which help to fight oxidative stress that may damage your body cells.