Tahini has been used in Middle Eastern cooking since at least the 13th century when it was included in a recipe for ancient hummus.1 Many people today regularly eat and enjoy tahini without even knowing it, as it’s an ingredient of popular dips like hummus and baba ghanoush.
Tahini has a wide variety of health benefits and rich flavour. We’ll answer every question you have about tahini, from what it is (sesame seeds), to its health benefits, nutritional profile, how to enjoy it, and who shouldn’t.
What is tahini?
Tahini is made from sesame seeds that are first toasted, and then ground. Often a neutral oil, like olive or canola oil, is added to loosen the ground seeds and make a paste.
Different health benefits of tahini
Tahini is as rich in health benefits as it is in flavour. These are some ways tahini can support you in a healthy lifestyle:
Encourage heart health
Sesame seed consumption is thought to reduce levels of bad cholesterol and encourage heart health.2
Excess inflammation is linked to a whole host of negative health repercussions, including the development of various cancers and diabetes.3 Studies show that sesame seeds can help to reduce inflammation.4
How to include more tahini in your diet
Make delicious spreads, including hummus, by adding tahini to bean dips. Both chickpea and cannellini dips benefit from the warm flavour and pleasantly bitter tang that tahini lends a dish.
If spreads aren’t your thing, tahini mixed with water can make a great dressing. Just pour it on top of salads or courgetti to make a light dish more filling.
Who should avoid tahini?
Despite tahini’s astonishing range of health benefits, some people should be conscientious of tahini consumption. You might want to avoid tahini if:
- You’re allergic to peanuts. Sesame allergies are widespread in those allergic to peanuts. If you’re allergic to peanuts, but don’t know where you stand with sesame seeds, be cautious before you try tahini.5
- Your diet is low in omega 3 fatty acids. Vegans and vegetarians often don’t consume sufficient varieties of omega 3 fatty acids.6 Eating plenty of omega 6 fatty acids – which tahini is full of – while not getting enough omega 3s can contribute to chronic inflammation.7
The nutritional profile of tahini
Tahini is quite calorific, with an even tablespoon of 15 grams containing 90 calories. However, with the high-calorie content, comes an excellent nutritional profile.
One tablespoon of tahini contains:
- 13% of your daily Vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) supports nervous system health by converting food into energy8
- 11% of your daily Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 encourages blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body9
- 11% of your daily phosphorus. Phosphorus supports bone and teeth health10
- 11% of your daily manganese. Manganese activates enzymes that help the body process food11
Last updated: 13 October 2020