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TAKE A PEEK INTO JAPANESE PANTRY, Sesame Seeds Benefits 101 Food & Recipes

Sesame seeds, sesame oil, and sesame paste…are often used in Japanese cooking as represented in the dish called “GOMA-AE”.

The types of sesame seeds in Japan are mainly distinguished into three: white, black, and gold.
YES, it’s three, not two of black and white.

Sesame seeds are packed with nutrients so they are respected as a natural remedy from ancient times in Japan.

Especially, black sesame seeds have black pigment in their shells, which is a good source of polyphenols.

The main nutrition of sesame seeds is about 50% lipid, about 20% protein, and rich in fibers and minerals.

In particular, the lipid compounded in these small grains is packed with unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid and oleic acid.

Let’s break down sesame seed benefits and how to incorporate them more into your daily healthy diet.


They are small oil-rich seeds and have been used in folk medicine in some cultures.

Sesame seeds have several health benefits to be expected.

Let’s break down the nutritional value of these small sesame seeds!

  1. sesame lignan
  2. Protein
  3. Polyphenol
  4. unsaturated fatty acid
  5. minerals
  6. Essential amino acids

Sesame Lignan

Although sesame contains only about 1% of the nutrition group called sesame lignan unique to sesame seeds, it is can be expected to have various health benefits.

There are four main types of sesame lignans: sesamin, sesamolin, sesamol, and sesaminol.

It has an antioxidant effect, is effective in preventing cancer and lifestyle-related diseases, and can be expected to improve and protect liver function.

Also, according to *NARO Research has indicated effects such as reducing cholesterol, and promoting lipid metabolism.

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

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

SESAMIN & SESAMOLINFat-soluble. The sesamin and sesamolin in sesame seeds are known for their antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
SESAMENOLWater soluble. A sesaminol glycoside with a strong antioxidant effect. It is rich in pressed sesame oil, especially pressed from raw sesame seeds.


Protein is an essential nutrient that sustains our lives. It becomes tissues such as organs, blood, muscles, skeletons, and skin, and also becomes enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters.

Sesame seeds contain about 20%. of protein of total nutrition, which can say they are a good source of protein.


Polyphenols are a group of compounds found in many plant foods: including such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, and lignans.

Polyphenols are known for their excellent antioxidant effects.

Research suggests that incorporating rich foods containing polyphenols could possibly be expected to protect from heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, cancer, and diabetes. (*)

*5 foods rich in heart-healthy polyphenols

Sesame Seeds Are Rich In Unsaturated fatty Acids

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

Sesame seeds are packed with these unsaturated fatty acids, especially, rich in linoleic acid, oleic acid, proteomic acid, and stearic acid.

Linoleic Acid And Oleic Acid

Linoleic acid is an unsaturated essential fatty acid that is found mostly in plant oils.

It is one of the essential nutrients for us since it cannot be synthesized by the human body.

Linoleic acid itself plays a special role in support of heart health and can be expected to reduce LDL cholesterol while improving blood circulation. (*1)

Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid, as the omega-9 benefits, it can help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, increase your energy levels and boost brain function.

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

Rich in Fiber

Sesame seeds are rich in total fiber content.  

Dietary fiber which is known for improving the digestion system: absorbs excess water and swelling in the intestines and activates the movement of the intestines, so it is effective in preventing constipation.

Constipation causes waste products to accumulate in the body, causing physical discomforts such as rough skin and stiff shoulders.

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

Using more sesame seeds in your diet regularly could help increase your fiber intake.

Rich In Minerals

  • Calcium with about 5 times more than whole milk. (per 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp of sesame seeds (about 9g) contains 32 mg of magnesium which means just eating 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds can reach your daily requirement.*
  • Sesame seeds are rich in iron-1.31mg per tablespoon
  • Sesame seeds can be expected to improve your immunity system with a good source of zinc, selenium, copper, iron, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.

*RDA: The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults 19-51+ years is 400-420 mg daily for men and 310-320 mg for women


Sesame lignans unique to sesame seeds have a high antioxidant effect which helps fight oxidative stress in our body.

Also, a synergistic effect can be expected due to the action of other nutrients like Vitamins contained in sesame seeds.

Antioxidant action is the action of removing active oxygen that has accumulated excessively in our body. A certain amount of active oxygen is necessary for the body, but if it increases excessively, causes oxidized cells, and stress to genes, possively, causing various diseases and aging negatively.

Originally, the human body has a function to prevent oxidation, but this function can be declined due to factors such as aging, lifestyle habits, and stress.

Therefore, it is important to ingest nutrients with antioxidant properties from the diet.

  • May reduce cancer risks
  • and control blood cholesterol
  • Anti-Aging
  • Promoting alcohol metabolism (hangover prevention)
  • Improve autonomic nerve function
  • expected to “suppress lipid oxidation”, “increase fatty acid metabolism”, and “improve liver function”.

Oleic acid contained in sesame seeds helps lower LDL cholesterol, and it can be expected to prevent cancer and lifestyle-related diseases with the antioxidant action of sesame lignans and selenium.

Sesame lignans can help to promote alcohol metabolism, besides, sesame lignans also work with the decomposition of acetaldehyde. (*)

*Modulating effect of sesamin, a functional lignan in sesame seeds, on the transcription levels of lipid- and alcohol-metabolizing enzymes in rat liver: a DNA microarray study


There is no distinct difference in nutritional value between different colors of sesame seeds, yet, the values of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are found slightly different among colors (types) of sesame seeds.

White sesame seeds have white thinner hulls, so it contains more lipids (linoleic acid and oleic acid), and is richer in sesamin than black sesame seeds, and do not contain anthocyanin.

Black sesame seeds, which have more hull components compared to other types of sesame seeds, are rich in polyphenols, and calcium, and contains anthocyanins. “golden sesame seeds”, which are known as the luxury sesame seeds in Japan and are often used in kaiseki cuisine are rich in lipids and flavonoids.



The hull on the sesame seed is hardly digested, therefore, ground sesame seeds or sesame paste (tahini) are ideal ways to intake the nutrition of sesame seeds efficiently.

Also, you can choose hulled sesame seeds for the point of absorbing the nutrition to our body, yet, they lack a savory unique aroma when we want to use them in cooking.

So it is better to choose the types of sesame seeds for your purpose.


Overeating is not good anyway, sesame seeds are mainly filled with oil so it’s easy to exceed daily calories.

It’s depending on your diet, you can eat 1-2 tablespoons (about 10-20g) of sesame seeds per day.


Sesame lignans enhance vitamin E activity when taken with foods rich in vitamin E such as nuts, beet greens, collard greens, spinach, red bell pepper, and avocado.

Vitamin E has an antioxidant effect and is a nutrient that you want to actively ingest.


Among the essential amino acids, sesame seeds are low in lysine and high in methionine and cystine.

On the other hand, soybeans, are the perfect source of protein with a good balance of essential amino acids but are slightly deficient in methionine and cystine.

Eating with sesame seeds and soybeans will supplement the essential amino acids that are lacking in each other.

Besides, they go well together like sprinkling sesame seeds or drizzling homemade sesame dressing on cold /hot tofu salad, or adding sesame seeds to your homemade natto.

Homemade Japanese Super Food Natto

Famous Japanese superfood. Rich in vitamin K2. Bring health & beauty to life! Using an instant pot, making natto is easy and saves money. Eating natto daily to get healthy life.


All-Purpose Basic Asian Sesame Dressing

The all-purpose basic Asian Sesame dressing can easily bring authentic Asian (Japanese) flavor to your daily vivid salad. By using Japanese / Korean toasted sesame oil and high-quality toasted sesame seeds, you can easily upgrade your dressing. Adding fresh garlic & ginger can be an Asian restaurant-grade flavor, and adding wasabi paste or powder, it’ll be Japanese Wasabi dressing to kick your nose.


Not only soybeans, eating other kinds of beans and sesame seeds can provide a good source of protein which means amino acids while supplementing each amino acids score, it is the ideal diet to eat beans and sesame seeds together.

Sesame Seeds In Japanese Home Cooking

Everyone wants to keep a healthy diet packed with well-balanced daily nutrition requirements,
however, it is not so easy thing to do so in our hassle-bustle life.

In Japanese home cooking, sesame seeds are often used as an ingredient, a garnish, or a condiment.

Incorporate eating sesame seeds into home cooking!

While just add a tablespoon of sesame seeds to your smoothie, salad, soup, and more food since sesame seeds can provide unsaturated fatty acids, high-quality protein, dietary fiber, iron & calcium, and vitamins at once!

Goma Ae


Goma Ae is a traditional Japanese side dish made with blanched Hakusai Napa cabbage mixed with a nutty toasted sesame and soy sauce. This vegetable side dish is super healthy and delicious that goes great with any meal: grilled meat, seafood, soup, and stews. Even for a healthy nibble for drinking instead of pickles, olives, and cheese.


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, and 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. Besides, I will give you two kinds of Japanese sesame dressing recipes!


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