An anti-cancer diet often includes no or reduced dairy intake. Invariably I get asked the standard question “but where do I get my calcium from then?”
Enter the mighty little sesame seed. This flat seed with its delicate nutty taste is a nutrient-dense powerhouse and one of the oldest known seeds used for centuries in warmer climates.
An excellent source of calcium, one cup of natural sesame seeds contains 1,4 g of calcium while one cup of whole milk only has around 290 mg (Murray, 2005). They are also high in anti-oxidant Vitamin E, helping ward off oxidative damage particularly to the liver, an organ that every cancer patient needs to nurture to ensure it can perform its detoxification functions optimally.
I love recommending it to cancer patients in need of extra protein as this little seed contains more than 35% protein, more than any nut. About 50% of it is healthy oil, add to that its high phytosterol content and you have an amazing food to help lower cholersterol. Phytosterol is a plant compound similar in structure to cholesterol, it can displace cholesterol in the gut and help excrete it in your stool. Studies have shown a significant reduction in blood levels of LDL-cholesterol, the so-called “bad” type we do not want an excess of.
You may have seen different varieties ranging from black to white. Black , un-hulled sesame seeds are the most nutrient dense, used mainly in Asian food dishes and should be dull and matte looking. Beware of shiny black seeds as these have simply been colored.
White seeds have had their protective hulls removed, and here we need to be mindful how this was done as often chemicals are used to de-hull seeds. Organic seeds are a safe bet. Hulled seeds can also easily go rancid. Tan colored sesame seeds have their hulls intact, are again more nutrient dense, actually having a calcium content of almost 90 mg/tablespoon as compared to 10mg/tablespoon to that in un-hulled seeds.
A word of caution! Sesame seeds do contain oxalic acid, and people prone to oxalate kidney stones or with an array of food sensitivities should consume these seeds in moderation. It is also worthy to note that the oxalic acid can interfere with calcium absorption, so roasting them or cooking with un-hulled sesame seeds can reduce this effect.
How to use sesame seeds
I grind them in my electric coffee grinder, very gently as they can easily get clumpy due to their high oil content. Then I add them to:
- salad dressings
- dips and spreads
- meat or bean loaf as an excellent replacement for bread crumbs
- spice mix such as home made Gomasio (see below)
- cookies, cupcakes, muffins and cakes
- energy and protein snacks
- tossed warmed and slightly oiled nuts
Gomasio Spice Mix
10 Tablespoons sesame seeds (I prefer the tan variety with their hulls)
1 Tablespoon Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt
(always keep the 10:1 ratio)
ADDITIONS: you can be as creative as you like! Try adding them one at a time and see if you like the taste. If you are like me, I pack the whole punch in one go, but then I love maximizing the cancer-fighting potential of a variety of spices.
1 Tablespoon dried herbs (together or individually: dill, oregano, thyme, marjoram)
1 Teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chili powder
- Roast the sesame seeds first in a dry stainless steel pan, only about 4-5 minutes, shaking the skillet often. When you hear them pop, they are done.
- Combine the seeds with the salt and other spices.
- Grind using either a pestle and mortar or in an electric coffee bean grinder.
- Store in a dark glass container in the fridge.
Gomasio Spice mix is perfect for salad dressings, roasted vegetables, in dips and spreads, home-made breads or sauces and soups. It’s delicious added to this super easy and quick to prepare Tomato Soup, rich in lycopene, another potent anti-cancer ingredient which does not get destroyed, but rather enhanced and more bioavailable through cooking tomatoes. This recipe below is also packed with other cancer-fighting spices.
Quick and Easy Tomato Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cans (BPA-free lining) whole tomatoes
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
2 Tablespoons Gomasio salt
freshly chopped herbs such as parsley or basil
- In a medium stainless steel pot, sweat the chopped onion in a little olive oil for a few minutes until translucent. Add crushed garlic for a minute or two.
- Add tomatoes and using hand-blender, puree the contents until smooth.
- Cook gently for 10 – 15 minutes on medium low heat.
- Add spices and adjust quantity to taste.
- Serve with freshly chopped herbs.
Adapted from “Tomatenrot und Drachengrün – Das Beste aus Ost und West – antikrebs – aktiv and abwehrstark” by Dr. med. Susanne Bihlmaier
Linus Pauling Micronutrient Information Center
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, ND
Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer by Donald R Yance