Naturopathic Kitchen: Tahini

A jar of tahini next to a spoonful of sesame seeds.

What is Tahini?

Tahini is a condiment made from sesame seeds that are then ground into a paste. It is especially common in Mediterranean cooking, and is used in many Middle Eastern, Asian, and African recipes as well. Tahini has a creamy texture and a rich, nutty flavor that is slightly bitter. It is a versatile ingredient that provides a host of health benefits.

 

The Health Benefits of Tahini

High in Antioxidants

Tahini is rich in antioxidants called lignans, particularly the lignan sesamin. 1 2 These antioxidants help to fight harmful free radicals in the body. 3 4 A diet rich in antioxidants may reduce your risk of developing a number of health conditions resulting from oxidative stress. 5 Try adding more tahini to your diet for a simple way to increase your antioxidant intake.

Boosts Cardiovascular Health

Sesame seeds, which tahini is made of, may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke due to their potential for lowering unhealthy cholesterol. 6  One study found a significant reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in participants who consumed 1.5 tablespoons of sesame seeds daily for two months. 7 Another study links the consumption of sesame seeds with a decrease in blood pressure. 8 

Protects Liver & Kidney Function

Eating tahini may help to protect the liver and kidneys, both of which are essential for removing toxins and waste from the body. 9 10 A 2018 study found that diabetic participants who consumed sesame oil every day for 90 days, resulted in improved liver and kidney function. 11 This research suggests that sesame seeds may be particularly beneficial to those with diabetes.

 

Ginger Tahini Dressing

Spice up a classic tahini salad dressing with a healthy dose of ginger, which is well-known to help soothe stomach aches and reduce nausea, but also can be used as an anti-inflammatory throughout the body. Be sure to buy gluten-free tamari if you would like to make a gluten-free version of this recipe.

Recipe courtesy of Bastyr University.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp raw sesame tahini
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tsp raw apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp mirin or cooking sake
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1⁄2 clove garlic, crushed
  • Crushed black pepper and sea salt to taste

Instructions

In a mixing bowl, whisk together ingredients until mixture achieves desired thickness. Drizzle it over salads, grilled vegetables, and grain bowls.

 

Other Easy Ways to Use Tahini

  • Use it as a dip for raw veggies.
  • Mix a few heaping spoonfuls into your favorite hummus recipe.
  • Spread it on toast and drizzle with a little honey or maple syrup.
  • Add it to wraps, pitas, and sandwiches – mix it with a little lemon juice and smoked paprika first for an extra kick of flavor.
  • Use it as a thickener for soups and sauces.

 

 

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