What Is Tahini? Ingredients, Nutrition, Benefits, and Downsides

What Is Tahini? Ingredients, Nutrition, Benefits, and Downsides

Tahini is a common ingredient in popular foods around the globe, including hummus, halva, and baba ghanoush.

Favored for its smooth texture and rich taste, it can be used as a dip, spread, salad dressing, or condiment.

It also boasts a long list of nutrients and several health benefits, making it a must-have for any kitchen pantry.

This article reviews the nutrition, benefits, uses, and downsides of tahini.

What is tahini?
Tahini is a paste made from toasted and ground sesame seeds.

Considered a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, tahini is often featured in traditional Asian, Middle Eastern, and African dishes as well.

It’s an incredibly versatile ingredient and can be served as a dip, spread, or condiment.

It typically has a smooth texture similar to nut butter but a stronger, more savory taste that’s often described as bitter.

In addition to providing a wealth of nutrients, tahini has also been associated with several benefits, including improved heart health, reduced inflammation, and potential cancer-fighting effects.

SUMMARY
Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. It’s versatile, highly nutritious, and associated with numerous potential health benefits.
Tahini nutrition
Tahini is relatively low in calories but high in fiber, protein, and an assortment of important vitamins and minerals.

One tablespoon (15 grams) of tahini contains the following nutrients (1):

Calories: 89
Protein: 3 grams
Carbs: 3 grams
Fat: 8 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Copper: 27% of the Daily Value (DV)
Selenium: 9% of the DV
Phosphorus: 9% of the DV
Iron: 7% of the DV
Zinc: 6% of the DV
Calcium: 5% of the DV
Tahini is an especially good source of copper, a trace mineral essential for iron absorption, blood clot formation, and blood pressure (2Trusted Source).

It’s also rich in selenium, a mineral that helps decrease inflammation and promotes immune health, as well as phosphorus, which is involved in maintaining bone health (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).

SUMMARY
Tahini is rich in many nutrients, including protein, fiber, copper, selenium, and phosphorus.

Benefits of tahini
Due to its impressive nutrient profile, tahini has been linked to a number of health benefits.

Supports heart health
Sesame seeds, which are the main ingredient in tahini, have a powerful effect on heart health by decreasing risk factors, such as high blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

In one study, 50 people with osteoarthritis completed standard medication therapy for 2 months, either with or without the addition of 40 grams, or about 1.5 tablespoons, of sesame seeds daily.

By the end of the study, participants in the sesame-seed group had significant reductions in triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, compared with the control group (5Trusted Source).

According to a review of eight studies, sesame seeds may also reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers or a reading), which could help prevent heart disease and stroke (6Trusted Source).

As tahini is made from ground sesame seeds, these findings apply to the paste as well.

Reduces inflammation
Though acute inflammation is an important part of your immune response, chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to conditions like cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders (7Trusted Source).

Some research suggests that sesame seeds could protect against inflammation.

In one study, consuming 40 grams of sesame seeds daily for 2 months effectively reduced levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), a compound used to measure inflammation in people with osteoarthritis (5Trusted Source).

In another study, feeding sesame oil to mice lowered levels of several inflammatory markers after just three months (8Trusted Source).

May protect against cancer
Tahini contains sesamol, a natural compound in sesame seeds that is thought to have anticancer properties (9Trusted Source).

One test-tube study showed that sesamol blocked the growth and spread of liver cancer cells (10Trusted Source).

Other research in animals and test tubes suggests that sesamol could fight skin, colon, and cervical cancer cells as well (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13).

However, current research is limited to test-tube and animal studies evaluating the effects of one specific component of tahini.

More research is needed to understand how tahini may impact cancer in humans.

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