Sesame: The tiny superfood that protects the heart, aids digestion and boosts the immune system

Sesame Koulouri - Greece’s favourite breakfast on the run + Recipe kikilias

Sesame seeds are abundant in the koulouria of Thessaloniki, in pasteli, and in Asian dishes, giving a unique flavour. Sesame is an international culinary staple, with the earliest traces dating back to 6,000 BC . in Egypt.

Although highly tiny seeds, their frequent consumption offers many health benefits.

They provide energy

Sesame seeds contain protein and B vitamins, which support healthy energy levels. Three tablespoons of sesame seeds contain 5 grams of protein and impressive amounts of the B vitamins thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate.

Protein is distinct in helping the body maintain and build healthy tissues and muscles.

They help digestion and the gut microbiome.

Sesame is particularly beneficial for gut health, thanks to its abundant fibre, which treats problems such as diarrhoea and constipation. In addition, soluble fibre feeds the healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome, helping to improve the health of the digestive system and the entire body.

They strengthen the immune system.

Zinc, vitamin E, and the plant compounds in sesame seeds strengthen the body's defences. Zinc is a mineral known for boosting the immune response. At the same time, vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, reducing inflammation and fighting disease-causing free radicals.

Regarding plant compounds, sesame is rich in lignans (sesamol, sesamin and sesamolin), phytosterols and flavonols.

A review of the evidence published in Molecules found that these lignans have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, supporting blood sugar regulation and slowing ageing.

They support the function of the heart.

Many nutrients in sesame seeds mentioned above also protect the heart. Unsaturated fats can improve blood cholesterol levels while also reducing inflammation. The fibre they contain also helps to lower cholesterol, preventing the onset of heart disease.

At the same time, magnesium and vitamin E reduce blood pressure. Accordingly, sesame oil gathers similar benefits.

They protect bones and joints.

Sesame seeds are rich in phosphorus and magnesium, two vital minerals in bone formation. When it comes to joints, sesame can encourage the formation of chondrocytes.

Chondrocytes are the building blocks of cartilage, the connective tissue that protects joints, offering therapeutic benefits for osteoarthritis patients.

They contain beneficial minerals.

In addition to the nutrients above. Sesame also contains notable amounts of manganese, iron, copper and selenium. These minerals contribute to forming hormones, connective tissue, nerves and red blood cells while preventing DNA damage and supporting healthy thyroid function.

READ MORE: Pistachios: The fruit Greeks love and helps reduces sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides.

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