You are here

Experience the Health Benefits of Sesame


Did you know that half a cup of sesame seeds contains three times more calcium than half a cup of whole milk? In addition to being an excellent dietary source of calcium, sesame seeds are also a good source of manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1 (thiamin), zinc, vitamin E, healthy protein, and fiber.

Sesame seeds also contain sesamin and sesamolin, two substances that are thought to prevent high blood pressure and protect the liver against oxidative damage.

Here are two ways in which you can enjoy the distinctive flavor and health benefits of sesame seeds:

Sesame Seasoning


1/2 cup unhulled sesame seeds, available in most health food stores and some large markets
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, also available in most health food stores
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt


Toast unhulled sesame seeds in a dry pan over low to medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until seeds begin to brown and pop. Be sure to stir steadiliy while toasting.

Use a strong blender to grind toasted sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, and sea salt into a fine powder.

This delicious sesame seasoning can be sprinkled generously over vegetable salads, steamed vegetables, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Keep leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. The quantities listed above make approximately half a cup of sesame seasoning.

Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste)


2 tablespoons of sesame seeds - they don't have to be unhulled
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of lukewarm water


Grind sesame seeds in a blender until smooth. Add sesame oil and sea salt. Then add 1/4 cup of water in a slow drizzle while blending and continue until all of the water has been added and the entire mixture is smooth. The quantities listed above make approximately half a cup of tahini. Be sure to store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Notes: You can find high quality raw, organic tahini at most health foods stores.

Sesame oil is relatively high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are easily damaged when exposed to heat and light. It is best to keep your consumption of sesame oil to a minimum. You can substitute the sesame oil in this recipe with extra water if you are concerned about your intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Another way to enjoy the health benefits of sesame is to include sesame leaves in your diet. Sesame leaves - also called perilla leaves - are a staple green vegetable in the traditional Korean diet, and are valued for their mineral density and strong aroma. They are as aromatic as herbs like basil and mint but have a unique nutty fragrance.

Sesame leaves are difficult to find in most supermarkets. They are readily available in Korean markets, packaged up in neatly stacked bundles. They can be used in fresh vegetable salads. They can also be used as wraps to eat with rice and miso, as described in the following recipe:

Korean Miso (Den Jang) Wraps


1 tablespoon of miso (or den jang, the Korean version of miso)
1 1/2 teaspoons of sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon of hot chili paste (optional)
Bowl of cooked brown or white rice
6-12 sesame leaves


Mix miso, sesame oil, and hot chilli paste together in a small bowl until uniform. This mixture is called sahm jang, and is typically served in a small bowl at the center of the table.

Place a small spoonful of rice in the center of a sesame leaf, add a small dollop of sahm jang to the rice, wrap it closed with the outer portions of the sesame leaf, and enjoy. You can use romaine, green leafy, or red leafy lettuce in addition to using sesame leaves, taking turns with any and all leafy greens that are available at the table for each new wrap.

If you find that you enjoy sesame leaves, I recommend that you try growing them in your vegetable garden. My relatives have grown this plant with ease here in Ontario over the past two decades. You can ask the owner of your local Korean market where you can buy seeds that will allow you to grow Ggaen Eep, the Korean word for sesame leaves. Alternatively, if you can find a Korean neighbor who grows this plant, ask him or her to save you some of the seeds that appear at the end of the growing season.


Join more than 80,000 readers worldwide who receive Dr. Ben Kim's free newsletter

Receive simple suggestions to measurably improve your health and mobility, plus alerts on specials and giveaways at our catalogue

Please Rate This

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (127 votes)
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.


hi Dr.Kim,

it's really touching to see how proud you are of your Korean heritage. As a Korean who was raised overseas from age 2, I too try to find ways to support Korean products whenever I can.

I didn't know why, but I always loved sesame leaves so much; now I know! I have liver problems and have calcium and iron deficiency, and the fragrant sesame leaf and oil provides me with the nutrients for these problems- I must have known about their benefits to my health subconsciously.

Keep up the good work! I was so convinced by your articles that I'm thinking of buying your Vitamin C power, tooth soap and Goji berries!

Venus Park, Hong Kong.

When I was pregnant with all 3 of my children my blood platelets would drop to a very dangerous level. My OB would want me to go on steroids which I refused, instead my iridologist suggested that I juice sesame seeds ( Champion Juicer) 3 times a day. Sesame seeds have vitamin K that most people don't know about. Thanks to this I never went on steroids and had all three by natural birth.

I would juice one cup seeds with water and add strawberries for flavor.

Hello Yvonne,

It was good to read your post and thanks for sharing your story.

In regards to you saying that sesame seeds have Vitamin K...could you please let me/us know where this is written. As far as I can tell...from just doing a little minor research (mainly through a website called: shows that sesame seeds do not have any Vitamin K in them at all.

Thanks for helping me with my confusion,

From this link you can get nutritional value for Sesame seed.

Dear Dr. Kim,

Thanks for sharing the nutritional values of sesame seeds. After doing a little research (mainly through, I found that the value of Vitamin E in sesame seeds are not that high (only 0.4mg or the same as 0.2% of your Daily Value). Perhaps it could be mentioned that one can get a higher DV of Vitamin E from some other source than sesame seeds plus that sesame seeds have a high amount of fat in them too (although I assume they are healthy fats)?

Just some thoughts, as I am beginning to become more interested in foods and their nutritional values. Could also be that the website I mainly use for my information ( is not a very good website...although it does have a LOT of info on a LOT of different foods...and also have some cool features such a showing a foods' glycemic index, etc.


I just read that sesame leaves are not really from the sesame plant, but from perilla seeds-?

I tried this tahini recipe using unhulled sesame, would not recommend it, came out too bitter. I will try again with hulled sesame.

I second your opinion. Actual sesame leaves are slender, feather shaped. Those pictured seem to ne perilla leaves. Also an annual with pods of seeds.

Just want to know you take on elderberry

I am confused... I have seen elsewhere that perilla leaves are often called "sesame leaves" and don't come from sesame indicum, but from perilla. The photo above of Korean sesame leaves look like perilla leaves, not sesame. I saw one reference that said sesame leaves aren't edible...

Can you shed any light on this? Are sesame indicum leaves edible? Are they used the same way as the perilla leaves that are sold as "sesame leaves?"

Thank you for your site!