Benefits Of Tahini, Nutritional Facts, And Side Effects

There is more good to this sinfully delectable condiment than we give it credit for!

Medically reviewed by Rowinda Dimech, RDN Rowinda Dimech Rowinda DimechRDN facebook_icontwitter_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Aparna Mallampalli BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Experience: 5 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , BPharm, Certified Health & Wellness Coach Moksha Gandhi BPharm, Certified Health & Wellness Coach Experience: 2 years
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Dips or sauces made with nuts or seeds add a rich taste to the dish. Tahini is one such dip or paste made of ground sesame seeds and is quite popular in the Middle East. Tahini nutrition and benefits can be attributed to its primary ingredient — sesame seeds. Besides, the creamy condiment is rich in protein, fiber, polyphenols like lignansi  A chemical compound present in plants and has estrogenic and anticancer properties. Additionally, it is an effective remedy for chronic diseases. , and magnesium. These nutrients may help reduce cancer risk and improve brain and bone health. Moreover, tahini is also suitable for people with nut allergies.

In this article, we discuss further the health benefits of tahini, its nutrition facts, and its potential side effects. Keep reading.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Tahini

What Is It?
A condiment that is part of Middle Eastern cuisine prepared by grinding roasted sesame seeds.

What Are Its Benefits?
Consumption of tahini may help reduce cancer risks and inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and also improve brain and bone health.

Who Can Use It?
Can be safely consumed by people of all age groups, including pregnant women and lactating mothers.

How Often?
1 teaspoon daily is a safe dose of tahini.

Caution
Tahini must be avoided by people with an allergy to sesame seeds. Excess consumption may cause digestive problems and weight gain.

What Is Tahini?

Tahini is made from sesame seeds and is a staple in many cuisines worldwide. It is prepared by roasting sesame seeds and processing them into a crumbly paste in a food processor into a paste. Tahini is commonly used to make Baba ganoush (a roasted eggplant dip) and is mostly used in a vegan diet.

protip_icon Quick Tip
In Central European and middle eastern countries, tahini oil is used as a home remedy to heal foot wounds associated with diabetes.

Tahini is bound to have many vitamins and minerals as it is made with sesame seeds. Take a look at its nutrient profile in the following section.

Tahini Nutrition Facts

100 g of tahini contain (1):

Energy

633 kcal

Protein

16.67 g

Fiber

16 g

Fat

53.33 g

Carbohydrates

20 g

Iron

9 mg

Calcium

433 mg

Sodium

17 mg

Cholesterol

0 mg

As stated, tahini is very high in fiber, protein, calories, and fat. So, is tahini good for you? If yes, what are its benefits? Keep reading to know.

Benefits Of Tahini

1. May Reduce Cancer Risk

Sesame, the primary ingredient of tahini, contains lignans (polyphenolic compounds) like sesamin, sesamol, sesaminol and sesamolin. These compounds are known to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Studies suggest that these lignans may prevent the rapid growth of cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death of such cells) and arresting the cell cycle. This, in turn, may help reduce the risk of lung, breast, prostate, colon, liver, cervical, blood, and skin cancers (2).

Sesame seeds also contain bioactive compounds like phytosterolsi  A plant-based substance that can fight dietary cholesterol for absorption by the intestines, lowering blood cholesterol levels. , whose chemical structure is very similar to that of cholesterol. Hence, phytosterol-rich diets may help reduce cholesterol levels, enhance the immune response, and decrease the risk of certain cancers (3). Similarly, lignans have a similar structure to estrogen. Sesamin and sesamol can bind to estrogen receptors and potentially protect against hormone-related cancers (4).

2. May Relieve Arthritis Pain

Tahini may relieve arthritis pain
Image: Shutterstock

Osteoarthritis, one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders, is said to have affected 15% of the population. However, sesame may help relieve the painful symptoms of knee osteoarthritis (a condition where the cartilage in the knee degenerates).

Studies found that sesame intake (40g/day), along with standard drug therapy, had reduced the pain intensity in knee osteoarthritis patients (5). Hence, sesame may be a viable adjunctive therapy. In another study, sesame oil supplement was found to attenuate early joint pains in rats by preventing muscular oxidative stress (6).

3. May Promote Bone Health

Magnesium deficiency may cause osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones) by directly acting on bone cells. Besides, it may also weaken bones by affecting the activity of the parathyroid hormonei  It is generated by the thyroid glands and aids in preserving the proper level of calcium in the blood and in tissues that require calcium for healthy function. (7). Consuming tahini, a good source of magnesium, may help improve magnesium levels in the body and enhance bone health.

In a study, women whose magnesium intake was more than 422 mg/day had a significantly higher bone mineral density of the hip and the whole body (8).

4. May Improve Brain Health

Sesame lignans are known to have neuroprotective effects. A study suggests that they suppress age-related cognitive decline in mice by reducing oxidative stress in the brain. Hence, long-term intake of lignan-rich tahini may help improve brain health and prevent cognitive decline (9). However, more studies are warranted to further understand this benefit.

Aren’t all these benefits of Tahini amazing? But what good are they if you do not know how to prepare Tahini at home? Check out the next section for it.

Homemade Tahini Recipe

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup sesame seeds
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • A pinch of salt

How To Prepare

  • Add sesame seeds to a pan and dry roast them on low-medium flame while constantly stirring.
  • Keep roasting until they become fragrant.
  • Take the pan off the flame and let the seeds cool down.
  • Transfer them into a food processor and blend until you get a crumbly texture.
  • Add olive oil to it and blend again.
  • Within a few minutes, you should get a smooth paste.
  • Add a pinch of salt to it, give it a stir, and store it in an airtight glass container.

protip_icon Quick Tip
The oil in tahini may separate during storage, which is completely normal. Just stir it properly before using.

Adding the nutrient-rich tahini to your diet is as simple as it can get. Here are a few ways to do it.

How To Add Tahini To Your Diet

Tahini as a salad dressing
Image: Shutterstock

To reap the maximum benefits, use tahini:

  •  As the main ingredient of hummus
  •  As a salad dressing
  •  As a dip
  •  In baked goods

Denise, a food blogger, started experimenting with tahini salad. She prepared a tahini salad dressing and liked it a lot. She said, “I really like the nutty, creamy dressing with the fresh cucumber, tomato and herbs (i).”

protip_icon Quick Tip
In Iran, tahini is mixed with date syrup to make a sweet dessert that is eaten with bread.

Tahini is a tasty addition to your diet. However, it may cause side effects in some individuals. What are they? Keep reading to know.

Side Effects Of Tahini

1. Sesame Allergy

Tahini may cause sesame allergy
Image: Shutterstock

Individuals with sesame allergies may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, and hives after consuming tahini (10). Severe reactions like palatal pruritus (itchy roof of the mouth), generalized erythema (skin redness), wheezing, and clinical shock may also occur due to hypersensitivity to sesame seeds. However, such reactions are usually mild at the initial stages. If promptly diagnosed, clinical progression of the symptoms can be prevented by eliminating the offending food from the diet (11).

2. May Cause Indigestion

Tahini may cause indigestion
Image: Shutterstock

Sally Stevens, a Registered Dietitian, says “Eating too much tahini can easily cause indigestion. If the intake of oil and protein is too much, they accumulate in the stomach and intestines, which increases the burden on the digestive system, especially in people with poor digestive functions.” However, these downsides are usually mild and subside within a day or two.

Tahini is a very high-calorie food. So, does it impact your weight loss goals? If yes, what measures should you take?

Is Tahini Good For Weight Loss?

Tahini for weight loss
Image: Shutterstock

Paula Doebrich, a Registered Dietician, says, “Tahini is a high-fat food and has about 90 calories per tablespoon. This does not make it a low-calorie food, so enjoy it mindfully if you are trying to lose weight. However, if enjoyed in moderation, it can be part of a weight loss diet.”

So, how much tahini can you eat daily? Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, says, “You should take only one tablespoon of tahini which is equal to 15 grams. It is full of minerals and vitamins, and helps in providing enough nutrients to our body.”

How does tahini compare with peanut butter? Which is healthier? Here is what a registered dietitian has to say.

Is Tahini Better Than Peanut Butter?

Holly Klamer says both peanut butter and tahini provide similar nutrients. Both are good sources of heart-healthy fats and minerals. While peanut butter is slightly higher in protein, tahini is richer in calcium and iron.

Infographic: 5 Major Benefits Of Tahini

Tahini offers several health advantages. From reducing the risk of cancers to improving brain health, this nutrient-rich item promotes your well-being in multiple ways. The infographic below lists a few benefits that deserve special mention. Check it out for more information.

5 major benefits of tahini (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Conclusion

Tahini is a highly nutritious and calorific food made from the seeds of sesame commonly used in the Mediterranean diet and Middle Eastern cuisines. Tahini sauce is extensively used in making hummus and dips. However, there is limited research on the benefits of tahini, but a few studies have explored the benefits of isolated antioxidants and nutrients of sesame seeds. Studies suggest that magnesium and polyphenols like lignans in sesame seeds are highly beneficial. Consuming lignans for the long term may help reduce cancer risk and suppress age-related cognitive decline. Besides, adequate intake of magnesium also improves bone mineral density. But individuals with sesame allergies may experience allergic reactions. Hence, practice caution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is tahini healthier than hummus?

Tahini is the main ingredient in hummus and may not be a healthier choice when compared to hummus as tahini is a calorie-dense. However, when mixed with hummus, one can enjoy all the benefits.

Is tahini good for constipation?

No, tahini is not good for constipation. In people with chronic constipation, it may aggravate the condition and other related issues like gastrointestinal discomfort and bloating.

How long can tahini be kept in the fridge?

Once opened, tahini can be stored in the refrigerator for 6 months.

What can you mix with tahini?

Tahini can be mixed with garlic and olive oil and can be used as a dip. It goes well with eggplant, yogurt, and other middle eastern cuisines.

Key Takeaways

  • Tahini may reduce cancer risk, relieve arthritis pain, improve bone health, and boost brain health.
  • You can add tahini to your diet as a salad dressing, main ingredient of hummus, dip, or baked goodies.
  • People with sesame allergies may experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they have tahini.
Tahini Benefits

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Indulge in your favorite snack with this delicious healthy ingredient. The video below discusses the several amazing benefits of tahini on your body, and how they are used. Click play to learn more.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Tahini
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/446287/nutrients
  2. Anti-Inflammatory and Anticancer Properties of Bioactive Compounds from Sesamum indicum L.—A Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6943436/
  3. Value addition in sesame: A perspective on bioactive components for enhancing utility and profitability
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4127822/
  4. Tahini The Magical Condiment In-Depth Look at its Nutritional and Health Benefits
    https://www.walshmedicalmedia.com/open-access/tahini–the-magical-condiment-an-indepth-look-at-its-nutritional-and-health-benefits.pdf
  5. Effects of sesame seed supplementation on clinical signs and symptoms in patients with knee osteoarthritis
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24164846/
  6. Daily sesame oil supplement attenuates joint pain by inhibiting muscular oxidative stress in osteoarthritis rat model
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283338375_Daily_sesame_oil_supplement_attenuates_joint_pain_by_inhibiting_muscular_oxidative_stress_in_osteoarthritis_rat_model
  7. Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3775240/
  8. An update on magnesium and bone health
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10534-021-00305-0
  9. Sesame Lignans Suppress Age-Related Cognitive Decline in Senescence-Accelerated Mice
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6682928/
  10. Impact of magnesium on bone health in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S8756328221003999
  11. Prevalence and Severity of Sesame Allergy in the United States
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6681546/
  12. Hypersensitivity to sesame seed
    https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.jacionline.org/article/0021-8707(64)90083-8/fulltext&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1637078236666000&usg=AOvVaw3-3jvozHzoG4ydPDPY4LPW
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Rowinda Dimech is a registered dietitian with 6 six years of experience who provides individualized diets according to body type, age, lifestyle, medical conditions, allergies/ intolerances, level of physical activity, and food preferences. She is also a feeding therapist who helps treat feeding difficulties and weight and growth problems in children. She studied Applied Food and Nutritional Science at the...read full bio

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