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If you’re familiar with my story healing migraine, you’ll know that I love zinc and copper. My body (and indeed, everyone’s body) needs both minerals, which might explain why I have always intuitively loved tahini, even before I took an interest in mineral balancing.
Tahini and sesame seeds have been widely used through the ages in Middle Eastern cooking. Tahini can be used in a broad spectrum of ways in both sweet or savory food, adding a luscious creamy quality to sauces and dressings.
When I lived in Istanbul, my love affair with sesame seeds took on a whole new level. I like to use my tahini in salad dressings, mixed with honey and butter and spread on sprouted toast, or used in the traditional way in a babba ghanoush or hummous spread. Hummous is an excellent snack because it is full of prebiotics.
What’s so Amazing About Sesame Seeds?
Sesame seeds pack an incredible amount of nutrition for such a modestly small seed. They are full of protein as well as B vitamins, which is awesome. But I’m more enamored of them for their mineral content. They are an excellent source of zinc and copper especially, which is appealing if you are vegan or just don’t eat a lot of red meat like lamb or beef. Sesame seeds are such a great source of minerals that I’m considering switching to eating daily tahini to replace my copper and zinc supplements.
- Zinc – 2 tablespoons contains 1.39 mg. Zinc is needed to get heavy metals out of the body, build testosterone, convert glutamates, and improve mood.
- Copper – 2 tablespoons contains 0.48 mg. Copper is important for blood vessel health, enzymatic function to break down histamine, and for balanced estrogen and energy (adrenaline and ATP).
- Manganese – 2 tablespoons contains 0.43 mg. Manganese is important for pituitary gland function, the master gland that regulates thyroid, adrenal, and liver health.
- Magnesium – 2 tablespoons contains 28 mg. Magnesium is needed for heavy metal removal and enzymatic function along with blood sugar balance
- Iron – 2 tablespoons contains 2.69 mg. Iron is used by cells to make energy as ATP.
- Potassium – 2 tablespoons contains 124 mg. Potassium is important for muscle, heart, and digestive function.
- Calcium – 2 tablespoons contains 128 mg. Calcium is needed by the body to clear estrogen from the liver, build bone and teeth, and regulate sleep and smooth muscle contraction.
Why Choose Unroasted, Sprouted Sesame Seeds?
Roasting seeds causes the fatty acids in the seeds to go rancid (oxidize), so I prefer to eat raw tahini and nut butters over roasted seeds and nuts. Cutting out rancid, oxidized oils is perhaps one of the most valuable steps that migraineurs can take to reduce inflammation. I’ve written about the damaging effect of oxidized oils here.
While there are other seeds such as pumpkin seeds that contain high levels of zinc as well, I prefer to get my zinc from sesame seeds because I like the flavor of raw sesame seeds more than the flavor of raw pumpkin seeds.
Sesame Seeds, Copper, and Migraine
As a fast oxidizer low in copper and zinc, tahini is indicated for me. Eating tahini frequently is an excellent way for those who are copper and zinc deficient to get both minerals.
If, on the other hand, your migraines are being caused by copper toxicity, eating hummous made with high-copper garbanzo beans mixed with tahini would cause some problems. Those who are “copper toxic” need to focus on making copper bioavailable through vitamin A and C, decreasing copper-rich foods, and increasing zinc and molybdenum in their diet. So this post is written for the benefit of copper-deficient fast oxidizers!
If you have not had a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis yet, and don’t know your copper status, one easy and probable indicator that you may have an excess of copper is whether or not you are generally sensitive to nuts. Many people attribute their sensitivity to nuts to oxalates, but I believe the copper in nuts is probably playing a larger role.
In the case of the sesame seed, the high zinc to copper ratio means that tahini may be better tolerated than some other nuts with less zinc. Of course, the best way to know is to see you how feel after eating tahini as compared to other nuts. (FYI, the nut lowest in copper is macadamia nut).
Raw Sprouted Sesame Tahini Recipe
4 cups (5 ounces or 140 grams) hulled sesame seeds
8 to 16 tablespoons healthy oil such as avocado or olive oil
Pinch of salt, optional
First, Soak the Sesame Seeds
This step is not strictly necessary, unless you want to ensure that the minerals in the sesame seeds are more fully bioavailable, since phytic acid in unsoaked seeds may prevent full absorption of the minerals. Soak the 4 cups of sesame seeds in about 10 cups of water for about 6-8 hours, and drain well with a wire mesh sieve. Dry the seeds in a dehydrator or in the lowest setting in your oven, being very careful not to burn the seeds.
Next, Make Your Tahini
Add sesame seeds to your food processor (a Vitamix or high-powered blender will also work). Blend the seeds for about a minute until a crumbly paste forms. At this point, add in your oil, blending for another few minutes and scraping down the sides of the food processor. Blend until the tahini is very smoothe and pourable, and not gritty. Add in more oil as needed to get the desired consistency. Add salt to taste.
How to To Store Your Tahini
Tahini can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for a month. Separation occurs naturally. Stir the tahini before using if separation has occurred.
Makes approximately 2-3 Cups.
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For the past 3 years, Marya has been helping those with chronic migraine to clear their head, heal their digestion, regain their energy, and transform their lives using simple plant and mineral solutions.
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The information in this article is for educational purposes only and not meant to replace diagnosis, treatment, or prescription by a qualified medical professional.