The health benefits offered by sesame seeds include high supply of energy, good source of calcium, unsaturated fats, offers liver protection, helps in healing wounds faster and has good antioxidants.
Sesame is one of the oldest known sources of oil in the world. It has been cultivated about 3000 years ago in the tropics and desert regions in Middle Eastern Asia and adjoining Europe. There are many relative species to sesame but the cultivated crop of which we know as sesame is believed to have originated in India and spread to other parts of Asia. Sesame seeds are very small with ovate shape. The color of the seeds can range from gold, brown, red, gray and black. The reason being sesame was and is still popular for is its oil content. It has the highest oil content for any known seed. The name sesame comes from the Greek word sesamon which is ultimately derived from the Arabic word simsim.
The highest producers of sesame seeds is Burma producing about 720,000 tons of sesame seeds annually. The second largest producer of sesame seeds is India, followed by China, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Nigeria, Niger and Somalia. In the Americas, it is mainly cultivated in South American countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Paraguay and Uruguay, etc.
Many cultures around the world have not only utilized sesame seeds but there is a cultural significance with the use of sesame seeds as well. For example, in India, Hindus use black sesame seeds in some religious rites. The phrase “Open Sesame” from the story Alibaba and Forty Thieves from One Thousand and One Nights from Arabic literature is another example of how sesame has had a cultural influence in ancient Arabia.
Can Sesame seeds be given to my baby?
There are two reasons to avoid sesame seeds for babies. One reason is that sesame seeds are so small that it would be difficult for your infant to have them. So, it is better to give sesame seeds to teething toddlers. Kids with full teeth can chew sesame seeds. The other reason being, sesame seeds can cause allergies and hence, it is recommended to keep away sesame seeds from your baby until at least 1 year of age.
Health benefits of sesame seeds
Here are some of the health benefits of sesame seeds for your kids.
Very high energy: As mentioned in the above list of nutrition, sesame seeds have very high amount of calories for their smaller structure. For a mere 100 g they possess about 573 calories, which is a substantially high amount.
Good source of calcium: Sesame seeds with their husks not removed provide substantially high amounts of calcium. For 100 g of sesame seeds, the amount of calcium supplied is 60 mg. Including sesame seeds in your child’s diet will add an additional source of calcium for bone development.
Best source of unsaturated fats: This is perhaps the most important point to discuss. Sesame seeds are a high source of fats, most unsaturated fats. 61% of sesame seeds is composed of the fats. These unsaturated fats are not only good for your growing child, but also a good alternative of unsaturated fats for adults as well.
Supply of antioxidants: Sesame seeds are also a good source of antioxidants. The awareness about antioxidants in foods is increasing these days due to the benefits provided by them. As free radicals are produced in metabolism, they damage the surrounding cells and tissues. The only way to counter them is by antioxidants. Most vegetarian foods are high in antioxidants and sesame seeds are one of them. They help in controlling free radical damage to an extent. (Suja, et al, 2004).
Liver protection: Sesame seeds are also good for protecting liver. Diseases to liver such as jaundice and hepatitis can cause liver damage. This liver damage can be controlled by taking sesame seeds. (Munish Kumar, et al, 2011).
Can help in healing wounds faster: Another benefit of sesame seeds is their ability to heal wounds. Studies show that sesamol, an antioxidative component in sesame seeds helps in healing wounds faster when compared to open wounds. (Shenoy, et al, 2011).
Dental Caries: Sesame seeds are especially beneficial in treating dental caries as they are extremely rich in calcium. (Nature Cure for Children, Dr. H.K. Bakhru)
Measures to be taken while giving sesame seeds to your child
Here are some measures that can be taken while giving sesame seeds to your child.
Selecting sesame seeds: Sesame seeds come in a lot of varieties. Most of us buying sesame seeds get from supermarkets where only husked and milled varieties are available. Instead, try to buy un-milled or un-husked seeds from organic stores.
Can cause allergies: Sesame seeds have a high incidence of allergic reactions. Sesame seeds are recognized as one of the ten foods to be careful with, the others being, peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macademia nuts, peacans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, milk, eggs and seafood including fish, crustaceans and shellfish, soy, wheat and mustard.
How to know if the child is allergic: If the parents or the family from both parents has a history of allergic reactions for any type of food, there is a chance that your child can also be allergic.
Nutrition found in Sesame Seeds
The nutrition found in sesame seeds include
|Nutritional Component||Value per 100 g||Nutritional Component||Value per 100 g|
|Energy||630 kcal||Carbohydrates||11 g|
|Sugars||0.4 g||Dietary fiber||11 g|
|Fat||61 g||Protein||20 g|
|Water||3.75 g||Calcium||60 mg|
|Iron||6 mg||Magnesium||345 mg|
|Phosphorous||667 mg||Potassium||370 mg|
|Sodium||47 mg||Zinc||11 mg|
|Vitamin A||2.5 IU||Thiamin||0.2 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.1 mg||Niacin||1.3 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.2 mg||Folate||27 mcg|