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Black And White Sesame seeds; Health benefits, How to use in Japanese Cooking

sesame seeds Food & Recipes

Sesame seeds are often used in Japanese home cooking, as well as European and Asian countries.
How has sesame been to get to Japan?

The origin of sesame is said to be Africa.

About 6,000 years ago, Africans found wild sesame seeds and cultivated them as food. In ancient Egypt, sesame oil was also used as a fuel, fragrance, medicinal and mummified preservative. Cleopatra applied sesame oil as beauty skincare. Sesame seeds had crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Central Asia and India, sesame oil is still used in the traditional medicine “Ayurveda”.

Then, sesame spread to China and Japan later.

In Japan, when Buddhism was introduced and meat-eating was taboo, sesame played a role in supporting the Japanese diet as a high-protein food alternative to meat.

Sesame seeds dishes are now attracting attention again as Japanese wellness.

Overview Of Nutritions In Sesame Seeds

The types of sesame are roughly divided into three types in Japan-white, black, and golden.
The two most popular sesame seeds in Japan are white and black, and gold is known as the luxury type.

Have you ever thought about the difference among “white sesame”, “black sesame”, and “golden sesame”???

Nutritions are almost the same among the three types of sesame, although there are slight differences in the amount contained in components.

However, the taste is different, so it may be better to choose depending on the dish.

Sesame seed contains 50% lipids, 20% protein, about 20% are carbohydrates, the rest is vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

Sesame Seeds Are Rich In Unsaturated fatty Acids

“Unsaturated fatty acids” are known for their ability to boost immunity and lower cholesterol levels.

The greatest thing about sesame seed is that it is rich in high-quality nutritional ingredients and high in content.

Sesame seeds are rich in unsaturated fatty acids that cannot be synthesized by the human body.

Especially, they are rich in linoleic acid and oleic acid, and proteomic acid, stearic acid, and tocopherols (vitamin Es) are following.

Linoleic Acid And Oleic Acid

“Linoleic acid” is a material that makes cell membranes and also it is an essential fatty acid that cannot be synthesized in the body and must be taken from the diet.

It is said *linoleic acid itself plays a special role in support of heart health and it can be expected to reduce total and LDL cholesterol. There is also said that linoleic acid improves blood pressure. (*1)

Oleic acid is also known as used for *preventing heart disease and reducing cholesterol. (*2)

Rich in Fiber

Sesame is rich in insoluble dietary fiber. 

There are two types of dietary fiber, water-soluble and insoluble. Insoluble dietary fiber is effective in preventing constipation. By absorbing excess water in the intestines and swelling, the movement of the intestines is activated.

Constipation causes waste products to accumulate in the body, causing physical discomforts such as rough skin and stiff shoulders. I’m grateful that you can relieve constipation and have beautiful skin and stiff shoulders.

1 tablespoon (9 grams) of whole dried sesame seeds provide 1.06 grams of fiber.

Rich In Minerals

Sesame seed is also high in iron and calcium. Not only does calcium make healthy bones, but also expected to be prevention for osteoporosis.

When Sesame protein and soybean protein are combined, can help each other by supplementing deficient amino acids in each other and further increasing nutrition value.

Essential amino acids are essential components for cell metabolism, stabilization of liver function, and regulation of blood cholesterol. So, try to eat sesame seeds with soybean products such as tofu, soy milk, miso.

Attention To Sesame Lignan

Japanese researchers have been studying the plant component in sesame seeds called sesame lignan.

They found sesame lignan has antioxidant components such as sesamin, sesaminol, and sesamolin, which are said to have anti-aging effects.

Also, according to *NARO Research has revealed effects such as improving liver function, reducing cholesterol, and promoting lipid metabolism.

Besides, there are possibilities that sesame lignans can be expected excellent health benefits such as suppressing the activity of active oxygen that impairs health, lowering cholesterol, preventing aging, and promoting the decomposition of alcohol.

*The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization

Sesame Seeds In Japan

Sesame seeds in Japanese are “Goma”(ゴマ).

Japanese phrase 33

In Japanese cuisine, sesame seeds are often used as the essential ingredient.

Commonly, white sesame, black, and golden sesame seeds are available in different types of products such as roasted and grounded dried whole seeds, sesame paste, and sesame oil.

The golden sesame seed is also called “Yellow sesame seed” or “Brown sesame seed”, which is known for its luxury aroma and flavor, so it is often used for “Kaiseki cuisine”-the Japanese traditional high-class cuisine.

White Sesame Seeds

White sesame is cultivated in temperate and subtropical regions and is produced all over the world like Africa and Southeast Asia.

In Japan, white sesame is the most produced in the Japanese sesame market since they are rich in oil than a black sesame seed. As you see, white sesame seeds are the raw material of sesame oil.

Also, white sesame has a sweeter and moderate taste. Therefore, they tend to be used in seasonings regardless of the dish.

Black Sesame Seeds

Unlike white sesame, black sesame is not produced all over the world, but China and Southeast Asia are the main production areas.

The black color of the shell contains the same polyphenol pigment called anthocyanin as blueberries, and lignin, which is a type of insoluble dietary fiber.

Besides, black sesame seeds contain a higher amount of calcium due to their thicker shells compared with white and gold.

Black sesame seeds have a stronger flavor and aroma than white sesame seeds so can insist on its flavor so it is used for dishes and sweets that enhance sesame seed flavor.

Golden Sesame Seeds

The golden sesame seed is also called “Yellow sesame seed” or “Brown sesame seed”, which is known for its luxury aroma and flavor, so it is often used for “Kaiseki cuisine”-the Japanese traditional high-class cuisine.

Sesame Seeds In Japanese Home Cooking

In Japanese home cooking, we often use sesame as a ingredient, a garnish, a condiments, a decoration, and a sauce.

Eating several different items in a well-balanced manner in a day is the basis of Japanese healthy diet guidance.
However, it is not so easy thing to do so in our daily busy life.

Thus, we often use sesame seeds in home cooking because it is simple, easy, and well-balanced just adding a tablespoon of sesame seeds which are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, high-quality protein, dietary fiber, iron & calcium, and vitamins!

Goma Ae

goma-ae, Japanese side sish, boiled vegetables with sesame seeds dressing

When someone asks me “what’s the staple food used sesame seeds in Japanese home cooking,” “Goma-ae” (胡麻和え) is my first answer for it.

Goma-ae literally means mix (dress) main ingredients, mostly veggies, with sesame seeds, soy sauce, and it is the staple side dish.

As the veggies “Goma-ae” side dish, spinach, green beans, Japanese mustard spinach, carrots, Okura are common.

  • Bell peppers
  • Snap peas
  • Green Cabbage
  • Chinese (Napa) cabbage
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Avocados

Also, you can add chicken breast or canned tuna as protein.

As a basic point in making Goma Ae,

  • Generally, boiled vegetables are used for Goma-ae. So, avoid over-cook them.
  • Drain and remove the excess water as much as possible.
  • Mix boiled vegetables and condiments just before eating to avoid getting watery.

Roasted VS Ground Sesame Seeds For Goma-Ae

You can choose sesame seeds in roasted, ground and even a paste is fine.

Roasted sesame seeds give a crunchy texture and fresh sesame flavor to every bite.

When sesame seeds are ground, more aroma and flavor will be popped out. Moreover, nutrition absorption value becomes better than whole seeds because their hard skin is milled in small pieces. When using ground sesame for making Goma-ae, it will combine well with veggies and give the dish more sesame flavor compared with using roasted sesame.

Goma-ae will be mild and naturally sweet with sesame paste. Especially, use a paste when the main ingredient has a unique habit, the paste can suppress with a mild nutty flavor.

In this post, you can get more details about sesame products-roasted, ground, and paste. Beside, I will give you two kinds of Japanese sesame dressing recipes!


The Basic Goma-Ae

Rico McConnellRico McConnell
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese


  • Allow water to boil water and 1 tsp of salt.
  • Boil vegetables, drain water, chill vegetables with cold (icy) water, and wipe them off with a kitchen paper if needed.
  • *When you cook multiple vegetables, it is more efficient to adjust the boiling time in each item.
  • *If you cook leaves, squeeze them.
  • Grind sesame seeds. Combine well soy sauce and sugar.
  • Mix boiled vegetables and the sauce before eating, adjust seasoning if needed.
Keyword Healthy, sesame seeds

This is a goma-ae recipe using Napa cabbage. 

HAKUSAI GOMA-AE: Blanched Chinese Napa Cabbage With Japanese Sesame Sauce

Rico McConnellRico McConnell
Goma Ae is a traditional Japanese side dish with blanched Hakusai Napa cabbage tossed with a nutty toasted sesame sauce. This vegetable side dish is a super healthy delicious that goes great with any meal: grilled meat, seafood, soup, and stews. Even for the healthy nibble for drinking.
3.75 from 4 votes
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people


  • 1/2 Large Napa cabbage Washed
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp hondashi powder or chicken bouillon powder
  • 3-4 tbsp Japanese dark soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp ground roasted sesame seeds *Grind the sesame seeds using a mortar and pestle, clean coffee grinder, or food processor.
  • Water to boil
  • A pinch of salt


  • In a large pot, add water and a pinch of salt and bring the water to a boil.
    *The salt increases the boiling point to cook vegetables faster, and also, enhances the vivid color and flavor of veggies.
  • Meanwhile, prepare Chinese Napa cabbage. Divide leaves (green parts) and ribs (white parts) on each leaf.
  • (White parts) Cut the ribs into about 3-inch parts against the grain, Julianne each up into 1/2-inch pieces along the grain to keep the crunchy texture.
  • (Green parts) Chop green parts as you like.
  • Blanch Chinese Napa cabbage.
    First, throw the sliced ribs into boiling water and cook for about 1-2 minutes, then throw the chopped leaves. Cook them for another 1 minute. Immediately, drain in a colander.
    *Check the napa cabbage occasionally to ensure that it does not become overcooked.
  • Drain the Chinese napa cabbage and rinse with cold water to cool the Chinese napa cabbage rapidly. Or cool them down naturally.
  • Squeeze the blanched napa cabbage with your hands thoughtfully to get rid of any excess water.
  • In a bowl, add ground sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce, and hondashi powder. Combine them well.
  • Toss the napa cabbage together with the dressing until they’re evenly combined.


©Japanmcconnell/Rico McConnell- Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
Keyword chinese cabbage, Easy, Healthy, Hondashi, Izakaya, Nibbles, sesame seeds, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Sweets And Pastry

black sessme seed paste with dango, Japanese sesame sweets, black sweets, sticky rice

In Japan, you will often see black or gray sweets, bread, pastry used black sesame seeds.

These colors are not so attractive, but some people are addicted to sesame sweets.

Personally, I am not a big fan of too much black sesame seeds (paste) flavor in sweets,

but you never know. (Bourbon Alfort black sesame seed flavor was terrible. )

Don’t forget to check your teeth after tasting black sesame seeds.

Sesame Oil

sesame oil, sesame seeds

Sesame oil is also the daily use of Japanese cooking.

Sesame oil which is also known for the health benefits and rich aroma is also daily use in Japanese home cooking as well as seeds.

Besides, sesame oil is recommended rather than seeds considering taking sesame lignans.

Rico’s Selected Sesame oil

Korean; Ottogi Premium Roasted Sesame Oil

In my life, this is THE BEST sesame oil so far!

I couldn’t forget my impression when I tasted this first, with its scent, aroma, and very rich flavor.

100% pure sesame oil, you will notice the dark roasted color more than any sesame oil first when you pour in the plate.

Japanese, Kadoya Sesame Oil

This is the “staple sesame oil” produced by “Kadoya Sesame Mills” (かどや製油), an cooking oil company founded in 1858. It is a nice mild and clear but remains rich flavor and sesame aroma that you can use for any dish as cooking oil or dressing oil.

Roast selected sesame seeds carefully with the unchanged own process for 160 years, it is attractive that the price is reasonable although it is pure sesame oil. Recommended as sesame oil for daily use.


How about taking daily 1 tbsp of sesame seeds or sesame oil for your health?

I realize how good health benefits sesame seeds have, so I start adding sesame seeds for the breakfast smoothie!


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