Diet and Nutrition

Tahini Health Benefits

Tahini Health Benefits

Key Takeaways

  • Tahini is a condiment made from sesame seeds.
  • Tahini has multiple uses and can be used individually or in preparing many dishes.
  • A lot of people describe tahini as a replacement for butter, peanut butter, or margarine.

Tahini is a condiment made from sesame seeds. It can be served as spread or dip, but can be also a major ingredient when making hummus, halva, or baba ganoush. The main ingredient of tahini is sesame seeds, and when it is purely made from grounded sesame seeds, it is called raw tahini.

Tahini can be found in many places like Turkey, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, Armenia, Palestine, Bulgaria, Syria, Cyprus, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Greece, Lebanon, Levant, and Kurdistan. Tahini is also known as ardeh. Tahini was mentioned in the 13th century in an Arabic cookbook as an ingredient in meals.

The Chinese used tahini for a long time in their recipes. Tahini is also traditionally used in Indian, Japanese, and Korean cuisines. It is usually found in the health section of supermarkets. Most of the time, tahini is made from hulled sesame seeds, but in Asian cuisines, it is made from unpeeled sesame seeds as a part of halva or hummus. 

How to make tahini

Tahini is made by soaking the sesame seeds into the water and then crushed to remove the peelings. The hulled sesame seeds are then soaked in salty water. The seeds that float on the top of the water are picked, roasted, and ground, which produces a very greasy paste. It is recommended that you keep tahini inside the fridge after opening the jar to avoid spoilage. Keeping it in the fridge is strongly recommended, especially for organic tahini, which contains no additives. When you buy tahini, you will notice that on the top of the jar there is a layer of oil, and that is perfectly normal. Tahini made from toasted sesame seeds tends to be little less greasy than the one made from raw sesame seeds.

Tahini has multiple uses and can be used individually or in preparing many dishes. A lot of people describe tahini as a replacement for butter, peanut butter, or margarine.

  • In both Greek and Balkan cuisines, tahini is mostly used as a spread on bread with honey or jam.
  • In Turkey, they mix pekmez and tahini to make a separate dish called "tahin-pekmez". It is usually served at breakfast.
  • In Cyprus, it is used as a dip and a sauce for souvlaki.
  • In Iraq, it is mixed with date syrup and served with bread.
  • In Iran, it is an ingredient in halvardeh along with egg whites, sugar, and other ingredients.

As you can see, tahini can be an ingredient in almost any meal and can be mixed with many different kinds of food. With tahini, you can express your creativity and maybe invent some new dish.

Tahini nutrition facts

Tahini is high in calories, but since it is used as a dip or spread, it doesn’t contain much if you use it moderately. 100 grams of tahini contains 595 calories, which places it in a group of high-calorie ingredients.

100 grams of tahini contain:

  • 21 grams of carbs
  • 17 grams of protein
  • 54 grams of fat
  • 3 grams of water

It also contains B vitamins and a little bit of vitamin A and E, as well as minerals like zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and manganese. It also contains copper and the amino acid methionine, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Tahini health benefits

1) Calcium

Tahini is high in calcium. One serving of tahini contains about 2/3 of the daily recommended amount of calcium. Calcium is very good for the bones, teeth, and muscles. According to research, tahini is linked to lower allergy risks and prevention of some types of cancer.

2) Vitamin E

Vitamin E is important because of its antioxidant features. Moreover, it is believed that it can slow down the aging process.

3) Vitamin B

B vitamins include vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5, which are good for red blood cell (RBC) function, promote faster wound healing, and have a good effect on the brain such as having a good mood and improved concentration.

4) Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids 

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are good for the joints, skin, brain, and vascular system.

5) Amino acids

Methionine is good for cleansing the liver from toxins and helps in the absorption of amino acids in the body. Because of the fatty acids and a high percent of proteins and calcium, tahini is recommended for people who are on a vegan or vegetarian diet. 

6) Protein

Most people compare tahini with peanut butter or consider tahini as a replacement for it. However, tahini is a healthier food because it contains more fiber, calcium, and has lesser saturated fat and sugar.

Almost 20 percent of tahini is protein, so it has more protein content than other nuts.

7) Aphrodisiac

Tahini is also known as an aphrodisiac and it is a natural cure for erectile dysfunction.

8) Alkaline food

Tahini also has high pH value, which means that it alkalizes the body and neutralizes the effects of ingredients with a low pH value. It is very good for digestion since it is crushed and smoothly ground. Moreover, it pulls other food with it making an easier overall digestion.

Tahini is an ingredient you should definitely include in your everyday diet because aside from every health benefit mentioned above, it can also help lower the risks of having a heart attack or stroke. However, keep in mind that tahini is high in calories. So if you are on a diet, you should pay attention to how much tahini you eat because just a couple of teaspoons of tahini can contain over 200 calories. It can mess up your diet, so be careful.

In addition, keep in mind to eat tahini made from whole sesame seeds and not hulled because it has more nutritive value and is healthier. If you cannot find it, you can use tahini from hulled sesame seeds as a replacement.

9 reasons to eat tahini

To sum it up, there are (at least) 9 reasons why you should regularly eat tahini:

  1. Tahini is a fantastic replacement for peanut butter.
  2. You can use it in any dish. You can mix tahini with water, lemon juice, and olive oil, make a great salad dressing, mix it with Greek yogurt, cereals, and fruits, or even use it instead of mayonnaise in sandwiches. Be creative and invent some new recipes with tahini. You can also use it as an ingredient in desserts.
  3. It contains a lot of fiber. Two tablespoons of tahini contain 4 grams of fiber. The daily recommended dose is 20-35 grams.
  4. Tahini is good for the heart because it contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
  5. Tahini is good for the bones because it contains a lot of calcium.
  6. Tahini is a great snack to eat after a workout because it contains about 8 grams of protein per serving. Protein helps in building muscles and in muscle recovery after working out. If you use it instead of peanut butter, you will double your protein intake.
  7. Tahini usually has one ingredient, and that is sesame seeds.
  8. Tahini contains iron, which is great for vegans and vegetarians because one serving of tahini contains the same amount of iron contained in 80 grams of red meat.
  9. Tahini is a great source of vitamin B.

Make your own tahini

You can make your own tahini at home. Here is a simple recipe:

  • Toast 200 grams of sesame seeds in a pan for 10 minutes, constantly stirring.
  • Then place the toasted seeds in a food processor with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • You can choose to add one or two teaspoons of lemon juice, sea salt, honey, vanilla, cocoa, or chocolate.

Make your own hummus

To make hummus from scratch, you need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ cup of tahini
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 2/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Instructions:

  1. Crush the garlic and mix it with the salt.
  2. Put the cooked chickpeas and tahini into a blender or food processor.
  3. Blend it really well and then add lemon juice and olive oil.
  4. If it is too thick, add some water (you can use the water you boiled the chickpeas in).
  5. You can add pepper, cumin, or other condiments. You can even add some nuts such as walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts.

Tahini dressing

To make a tahini dressing, blend the following ingredients and enjoy:

  • ½ cup of tahini
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons of tamari

To make a lemon tahini dressing:

Include 4-5 teaspoons of squeezed lemon juice, a clove of garlic, and some fresh herbs.

Tahini fudge

You can also make delicious desserts with tahini, and we recommend one recipe--a tahini fudge. Blend the following ingredients and freeze them before serving:

  • 1 cup of raw carob or cocoa powder
  • ½ cup of raw tahini
  • ¼ of maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup of water
  • 2 soaked dates

You can add almond, peanut, walnut, pistachio, or hazelnut as you wish.

There are a lot of recipes with tahini as an ingredient. It is nutritious and delicious, so why not try one. If you don’t like the ones we picked, you can search for a wide choice on the internet or even buy a tahini cookbook to further experiment on this healthy ingredient.