Go beyond sesame seeds and find out how to make sesame a go-to ingredient in your kitchen.

If the only time you eat sesame seeds is sprinkled atop a bagel or sushi roll, you may be seriously missing out. Sure, they're tiny, but the nutty-tasting seeds are packed with heart-healthy plant compounds called phytosterols, and just 2 tablespoons provide 16 percent of the daily value of bone-forming magnesium. But sesame does even more than that. Read on for four delicious ways to make sesame a go-to ingredient in your kitchen.

-Jessica Girdwain


1. Tahini

You may only know tahini for adding a toasty flavor to hummus, but it deserves star billing. Two tablespoons contain 6 grams of protein and 12 percent of your daily value of calcium. Try it in a zesty salad dressing: Combine 2 T. tahini, 3 T. lemon juice, 1 T. water, 1/2 t. salt and 1 small clove garlic.

Sesame Oil

2. Sesame Oil

Consuming the oil daily for two months could improve the function of veins and arteries, per a new study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Why? It's rich in two antioxidants, sesamin and sesamol. These compounds may enhance production of nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels and keep them pliable. Sesame oil breaks down when exposed to high heat, so add at the end of cooking or use in cold dressings and sauces.

Black Sesame

3. Black Sesame

These seeds get their striking black hue from anthocyanins, a type of phytochemical. And that's a good thing: people who eat more anthocyanin-rich foods (including blueberries and black beans) are 15 percent less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, according to a 2012 study by Harvard researchers. Give salmon a cool look and some crunch by coating it with the seeds, then pan-searing in a little olive oil.


4. Gomasio

You can find gomasio, a seasoning made of ground roasted sesame seeds with a touch of salt, at well-stocked supermarkets (or Salty, with a hint of nuttiness, one teaspoon of gomasio contains less than half the sodium of low-sodium soy sauce, making it a great way to save on sodium and still add flavor to foods. Sprinkle on steamed green beans or use it to jazz up plain brown rice.