Tahini: The Secret Tool for Sticking to Your Health Resolution
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
Tahini is a simple recipe originating in Mesopotamia nearly 4,000 years ago. Sesame seeds grew plentifully between the Tigris and Euphrates in ancient Iraq, where they were used to make oil. Throughout the Levant and Iraq, as well as Eastern countries like Greece and Armenia, tahini is used plentifully with dips, meat, falafel, vegetables, and shawarma.
As Arab immigrants began moving to the U.S., so did their recipes calling for tahini. Today, tahini can be found in every Arab American restaurant and store across the country. The oily paste has become so popular in America over the decades that it can now be found in mainstream supermarkets, ethnic stores, and vegetarian/vegan restaurants.
Tahini is a quality source for protein, healthy fats, omega-3, fiber, and calcium. Its versatility makes it an easy replacement for other foods that are sugary and high in saturated fats, such as peanut butter, creamy dressings, and gravy. Here are 7 ways tahini – a food you already know and love – can keep you on track to your healthier lifestyle this year.
Warning: Don’t eat too much tahini! A couple of tablespoons a day is all you need. Anything more than that can increase your cholesterol levels.
1. Curb Sugar Cravings
Sugar is found in almost all manufactured foods in America, from bread to frozen vegetables to tomato sauce. If you’re choosing a low sugar diet, your body will go through difficult withdrawals. Curb your sugar cravings with a small spoonful of tahini once a day until you get over the cravings. In some areas in the Arab world, to curb sugar cravings, people mix the tahini with honey and scoop it with bread.
2. Add Flavor Where Carbs are Missing
One popular and effective method for staying healthy is to cut back on carbs. Eating meals without carbs like bread or rice can be difficult at first because the meal feels incomplete without it. Replace the carbs by drizzling tahini dressing on meat, stir fry, and salads to feel satisfied.
3. Detox Your Liver
Living a healthier lifestyle isn’t just about counting calories. Help your liver recover from the holiday season (which may have included more alcohol than usual) with tahini. The sauce is a good source of Methionine, which helps grow new blood vessels needed to combat severe conditions, such as alcoholism and other drug addictions, asthma, allergies, and even depression.
4. Put Your Body in Balance
Tahini is rich in alkaline mineral content, which is responsible for keeping your body at a good pH balance. Otherwise, your body is too acidic – a core cause of diseases and illnesses related to obesity. Supplemented with other healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as frequent exercise, tahini can help balance your body and in turn, cut back on risks for diabetes, cancer, and fatigue.
5. Digest Food Better
Tahini’s alkaline mineral content also helps you digest food better. Say goodbye to stomachaches and inflammation by putting more tahini in your diet.
6. Balance Hormones
Fight bone loss, weakness, and mood swings with tahini. The sesame sauce is considered a good dietary estrogen because it contains phytoestrogens that can trick your body into thinking you have more estrogen. Usually, extra estrogen in a person’s diet is not beneficial, so this tip is more for those who are low in estrogen, such as women over 50 years of age.
7. Rejuvenate Your Skin
For centuries, tahini has been used to treat wounds, burns, and dryness of the skin. Since tahini is a healthy oil with amino acids, it helps to keep the skin moist and repair damaged tissues. The sesame sauce can even help fight pore clogging because it is a natural antibacterial.
The healthiest way to consume tahini is if it’s homemade. Use this quick and easy recipe to help you stay on track and reach your health goals in 2017.
1 cup hulled sesame seeds
3 tablespoons or more extra virgin olive oil
- Heat a clean, dry cast iron or heavy duty skillet over medium high heat and add the sesame seeds. Stir frequently until they begin to turn golden brown and then stir constantly. Be careful, sesame seeds burn very easily.
- Once they’re toasted, let them cool a few minutes then add them to a food processor.
- Start by adding 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Process the mixture into a paste, scraping down the sides. Add more olive oil until you reach the desired consistency (*see Note)
- Makes a little less than ¾ cup tahini paste, depending on how much olive oil you use.
- Store the tahini paste in the refrigerator in an airtight jar. Will keep for several months.
5 Tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
4 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons water
A pinch of sea salt
In a small bowl mix well all the ingredients until combined.
One tablespoon of tahini contains about:
3.2 grams carbohydrates
2.5 grams protein
8 grams fat
1.5 grams fiber
0.2 milligrams thiamine (15 percent DV)
49.4 milligrams magnesium (12 percent DV)
111 milligrams phosphorus (11 percent DV)
1.5 milligrams zinc (10 percent DV)
0.2 milligrams manganese (10 percent DV)
0.2 milligrams copper (10 percent DV)
64 milligrams calcium (6 percent DV)
0.9 milligrams iron (5 percent DV)