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Sesame Seeds

Definition of Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds or benny seed or benne seed can be described as tiny oval seeds that are flat in their structure and have a nutty taste as well as a delicate crunch. They are the most common forms of seeds produced in the world. The sesame seeds are highly held in the market because of their high content of sesame oil. These seeds come in a variety of colours like white, yellow, black and red.

The seeds of sesame are obtained from 'Sesamum indicum', an annual herb that grows well in hot climates up to a maximum height of seven feet. These seeds mature inside a pod which pop up once they become mature. They are widely used in making bread products, confectioneries, and as a garnishing item.

It's very important to remove the hulls of the sesame seeds as they contain oxalic acids in trace amounts of 2%-3%, which can interfere with absorption of calcium, thereby giving it a bitter flavour.

Types of Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds can broadly categorized as per the following three types:

  • White Sesame Seeds: White sesame seeds are used in making bakery products and are the most widely used seeds in the market. It needs not be processed can be directly consumed
  • Black Sesame Seeds: These form of seeds are well known for their medicinal properties. They contain at least 60% more calcium than hulled seeds. Their aroma and flavour are also quite well known
  • Brown Sesame Seeds: These seeds are popularly used for oil extraction purpose. These are
non-hulled seeds, and are widely used in cereals, candies, granola, baked items, etc. They are a rich source of protein, iron, calcium and phosphorus.

History of Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are as old as almost 2000 years and were fist cultivated in China. Later, the Egyptians used these seeds in the form of medicines. At around 900 BC, the Turks used its oil for several purposes. These seeds were one of the first forms of condiments and the first crops used to process oils. During the late 17th century, the sesame seeds were brought to the United States.

Culinary Uses of Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are very famous for their exotic aroma and are thus, used on a large scale in many cuisines. In its most common form, sesame seeds are sprinkled over cakes and breads. They are a

key ingredient of halva, a Middle Eastern confection. The other famous dish made of sesame is Tahini, another popular Middle Eastern dish. In Mexico, the seeds are extracted for their oil for cooking purposes. Black sesame seeds are frequently used in Chinese, Japanese and Korean dishes, in which the seeds are mixed and rolled with meat or fish.

Interesting Facts about Sesame Seeds
Several interesting folklore have been associated with sesame seeds. There is a legend that when the world was about to be created, the gods drank wine made of sesame seeds. In the famous adventure novel, "The Thousand and One Nights", the term 'open sesame' was coined from the ability of the sesame seeds to pop up at the slightest touch. As per the early Hindu legend, sesame seeds signify immortality.

Health Impact of Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are highly beneficial for our health as they contain a number of important minerals and

nutrients necessary for the normal functioning of our body. They are a rich source of copper, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, etc. These seeds help in preventing curing rheumatoid arthritis.They also help in preventing asthma, lowering high blood pressure, as well as in preventing colon cancer. Sesame seeds are also highly helpful in improving the sleep pattern in women who are in their menopause period. Other than this, they also help prevent migraine attacks.

Cultivation Scope of Sesame Seeds
Sesame is a globally popular forms of crop for cultivation, with the world production of sesame seeds estimated to be at around 3 million tonnes. India leads the brigade in sesame production along with China. Nearly 70% of the world's production of sesame is done in Asia, followed by Africa at the rate of 26%. Other nations producing sesame seeds on a massive scale include Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mexico, Central America, among others.