Tahini is made from toasted and ground sesame seeds. It acts as an antioxidant and helps lower inflammation in the body. Studies show sesamol, a natural chemical found in sesame seeds and sesame oil, has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging benefits. It’s rich in essential nutrients like fiber, protein, copper, phosphorus, and selenium and may reduce heart disease risk and inflammation. Furthermore, test-tube and animal studies suggest that sesame seeds may have anticancer properties.
May Reduce Cancer Risk
Sesame, the primary ingredient of tahini, contains lignans (polyphenolic compounds) like sesamin, sesamol, sesaminol, and sesamolin. These compounds are known to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Studies suggest that these lignans may prevent the rapid growth of cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death of such cells) and arresting the cell cycle. This, in turn, may help reduce the risk of lung, breast, prostate, colon, liver, cervical, blood, and skin cancers.
Sesame seeds also contain bioactive compounds like phytosterols, whose chemical structure is very similar to cholesterol. Hence, phytosterol-rich diets may help reduce cholesterol levels, enhance the immune response, and decrease the risk of certain cancers. Similarly, lignans have a similar structure to estrogen. Sesamin and sesamol can bind to estrogen receptors and potentially protect against hormone-related cancers.
May Relieve Arthritis Pain
Osteoarthritis, one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders, is said to have affected 15% of the population. However, sesame may help relieve the painful symptoms of knee osteoarthritis (a condition where the cartilage in the knee degenerates).
Studies found that sesame intake (40g/day), along with standard drug therapy, had reduced the pain intensity in knee osteoarthritis patients. Hence, sesame may be a viable adjunctive therapy. In another study, sesame oil supplements attenuated early joint pains in rats by preventing muscular oxidative stress.
May Promote Bone Health
Magnesium deficiency may cause osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones) by directly acting on bone cells. Besides, it may also weaken bones by affecting the activity of the parathyroid hormone. Consuming tahini, a good source of magnesium, may help improve magnesium levels in the body and enhance bone health.
In a study, women whose magnesium intake was more than 422 mg/day had a significantly higher bone mineral density in the hip and the whole body.
It May Improve Brain Health
Sesame lignans are known to have neuroprotective effects. A study suggests that they suppress age-related cognitive decline in mice by reducing oxidative stress in the brain. Hence, long-term intake of lignan-rich tahini may help improve brain health and prevent cognitive decline. However, more studies are warranted to understand this benefit further.
15 grams Tahini Nutrition
- Calories: 89
- Protein: 3 grams
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fat: 8 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Copper: 27% of your daily value
- Selenium: 9% of your daily value
- Phosphorus: 9% of your daily value
- Iron: 7% of your daily value
- Zinc: 6% of your daily value
- Calcium: 5% of your daily value
The sesame seeds that make up tahini may be small, but they’re a solid source of protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, and vitamins B1 and B2.
Side Effects of Tahini
Individuals with sesame allergies may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, and hives after consuming tahini. Severe reactions like palatal pruritus (itchy roof of the mouth), generalized erythema (skin redness), wheezing, and clinical shock may also occur due to hypersensitivity to sesame seeds. However, such reactions are usually mild in the initial stages. If promptly diagnosed, clinical progression of the symptoms can be prevented by eliminating the offending food from the diet.
May Cause Indigestion
Sally Stevens, a Registered Dietitian, says “Eating too much tahini can easily cause indigestion. If the intake of oil and protein is too much, they accumulate in the stomach and intestines, which increases the burden on the digestive system, especially in people with poor digestive functions.” However, these downsides are usually mild and subside within a day or two.
How Much Tahini Should I Eat Daily?
You should take only one tablespoon of tahini which is equal to 15 grams. It is full of minerals and vitamins and helps in providing enough nutrients to our body.
How Much Tahini is Too Much
Don’t eat too much tahini! A couple of tablespoons a day is all you need. Anything more than that can increase your cholesterol levels.