This Superfood Is Our Latest Pantry Pick

by Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Last Updated: June 8, 2020

COVID-19 has changed our eating habits in so many ways. Some trends have gone away or lessened (i.e. keto diets, given the challenges of finding certain protein foods), while others have increased (such as plant-based eating or more flexitarian dietary patterns). Plant-based foods are great for health because they encompass fruits, vegetables, seeds, whole grains and nuts into delicious recipes. They’re available in all sorts of combinations and varieties, too, which is a bonus while food supplies may look a little different. Our favorite pantry pick right now? Tahini! Let’s talk more about this one.

Tahini is made from the combination of sesame seeds that are ground and hulled, then made into a butter or paste by mixing with an oil. The texture is similar to peanut butter and it is a staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Tahini is very popular in Middle Eastern recipes, too. It is most memorably found in dishes like hummus and Baba Ghanoush, however, this tempting taste goes beyond the Baba.

Tahini is a good influence on heart-health. In fact, it can offer 14 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated heart healthy fats in just 2 tablespoons; the additional two grams are from saturated fats. This is a great ratio! It means that most of the fat found in tahini can actually help to decrease inflammation and lower your cholesterol because of its Omega-3 fatty acid content.

Not only does it have our heart-health in mind, it also supports our digestive and immune health as a first priority. Containing 2.8 grams of fiber per serving, it is considered a good source of fiber. Additionally, it can help to improve bowel regularity and can help prevent cancer due to its ability to bind to estrogen receptors, thus protecting the cells from hormone-related damage. It is also a good source of calcium, iron, and phosphorus, which all contribute to overall health. A serving of tahini also provides eight percent of the daily value of Magnesium, which lends support to the skeletal system. Studies show that diets rich in magnesium tend to be effective at decreasing the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

Whether you’re brave enough to try your hand at making your own tahini or you plan to purchase it at the store, check out these recipes.
  1. Think tahini, before thinking of your other favorites. Use it as a dipping sauce for vegetables and baked items as appetizers and sides. It can even be used as a cooking sauce for meat.
  2. Top salads with more plant-based food items rather than those with empty calories.
  3. Skip the saturated fat and spread tahini on toast or burgers. And then add some veggies!

Hopefully, when you try tahini, you will love it as much as we do! However, be sure to pay attention to portion sizes,as it is very energy dense. It has a high calorie from fat content at 178 calories per two tablespoons. It’s important to note that as much as one person might have to pace themselves to avoid overeating, some people cannot consume tahini at all. If they are allergic to tree nuts, they may react to sesame seeds as well. We recommend checking if there are any allergies if serving tahini to dinner guests. While it might not be suitable for those with tree nuts, it can be an alternative for peanut butter in those with peanut allergies. Always use caution when dealing with nut allergies as they can be serious if exacerbated.

We hope you’re inspired to make your own or even to simply try tahini at an upcoming meal! It is so versatile and It comes with so many health and nutrition benefits, so why not try it? When storing tahini, keep it in a cool and dry place. If you have leftovers after you use it in one meal, try it with your next! Checkout more ways to use tahini on our website or app or the Yummly website or app.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Tiffany is a compassionate dietitian with experience in nutrition throughout her lifespan along with empowering those with diabetes and heart disease to use food as medicine. A believer in total body wellness, she has a decade of experience as a licensed massage therapist. With a passion for healthy living, she practices hot yoga, enjoys most any fitness activities, stays active in the community, and loves spending time with her family.