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    Archive for the ‘sesame seeds’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Calcium in Sesame Seeds?

    SesameSeedsI have come across conflicting information on sesame seeds as a good source of calcium.

    Some websites (none written by nutritionists) claim they are, others claim they are not.  A few vegan websites I’ve been to [refer to] them as “calcium superstar” or a “calcium powerhouse”.

    So, do you get calcium from these tasty seeds or not?

    — Evan Raggio
    (City Withheld)

    You do, but not as much as some uninformed individuals may lead you to believe.

    Describing sesame seeds as a “calcium powerhouse” is incorrect.  In the non-dairy world, that superlative is better suited to kale and mustard greens.

    There are two important factors to keep in mind about calcium and sesame seeds.

    Number one: unhulled sesame seeds (ones which contain the hull) contain more calcium than hulled sesame seeds (ones without the hull).

    Whereas one tablespoon of unhulled sesame seeds delivers nine percent of the Daily Value of calcium, that same amount of hulled sesame seeds delivers four percent.

    You may think, “alright, so I’ll just eat unhulled sesame seeds, and make tahini from them as well!”

    Here’s the other issue — unhulled sesame seeds contain a large amount of oxalates.

    Oxalates severely restrict calcium absorption.  Spinach is also very high in oxalates, which is why it is not a good source of calcium (I am flabbergasted by the amount of articles I have seen written by Registered Dietitians which tout spinach as an “excellent source of calcium” — it is NOT!).

    So, while you do get some calcium from sesame seeds, they are certainly not a powerhouse or an “excellent source”.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Garlic Tahini Dressing

    tahiniI’ll be the first to admit I have culinary commitment issues.

    One week, a certain salad dressing might be the apple of my eye, only to suddenly seem ‘blah’ overnight.

    As a result, purchases of bottled salad dressings aren’t very fruitful for me.  After a bottle is approximately halfway used up, it sits in my refrigerator for months, unused and ignored until it expires.

    “I’m just not that into you,” I say apologetically as I empty it out in my kitchen sink.

    Alas, I don’t want to get a bad reputation in the salad dressing aisle.  That’s why I now make my own salad dressings in very small batches.

    This dressing below — a tasty break respite from vinaigrettes — is one of my all-time favorites.  It goes particularly well over crunchy raw salads or steamed vegetables.  I was inspired by the tahini dressing served by one of my favorite New York City vegetarian restaurants.  Thank you, Quantum Leap!

    YIELDS: 4 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    1/4 cup tahini
    1/4 cup water
    2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    2 or 3 garlic cloves
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined.

    Let stand for a few minutes and serve.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    90 calories
    1 gram saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium

    Good source of: Copper, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin C

    Added bonus 1: Tahini — also known as ‘sesame seed butter’ — is high in beta-sisterol, a phytosterol that helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

    Added bonus 2: Sesame seeds also contain sesamol, an antioxidant that helps lower atherosclerosis (that’s the technical term for “hardening of the arteries”) risk.

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