Without sesame seeds, we wouldn’t have delicious tahini or deep and rich sesame oil. Even in their minimally processed form, these off-white seeds add subtle crunch and mildly nutty flavor to savory and sweet dishes. And although tiny, they pack lots of nutrition in a small serving size.
But more importantly, are sesame seeds keto?
Luckily, tasty sesame seeds are keto-friendly. They have a favorable macronutrient ratio and are rich in anti-inflammatory fats. And because these seeds are super affordable, they can serve as a budget-friendly source of nutrients or garnish for a range of keto sweets and meals. Here’s more about sesame seeds on keto, including their carbs, nutrients, and more.
Sesame Seeds 101: An Overview
Sesame seeds are the seeds of Sesamum indicum L., an ancient oil crop. They have been harvested for oil production for over 5,000 years. Today, sesame seeds are a common topping on buns, crackers, sweets, and many Asian dishes.
The seeds are sold with their edible husk on or dehulled. The former has a more intense and nutty flavor and is slightly more nutritious. But the latter can be toasted to provide an equally deep and rich aroma. And like most seeds, all varieties are affordable.
Sesame seeds have a wide range of commercial uses. For example, they can be used to make oil thanks to their high level of fatty acids or ground into a paste (tahini). You may also find sesame seed flour, a wheat flour alternative made from defatted sesame seed, as a byproduct of oil production.
Nutritional Content of Sesame Seeds
Nuts and seeds are, more often than not, quite nutritious. Sesame seeds are no exception. They are jam-packed with macronutrients, micronutrients, and other compounds a future plant needs for health and growth. To see what we’re talking about, here is a nutritional breakdown of 1 oz of sesame seeds :
- 160 calories
- 5 g of protein
- 13.9 g of fat
- 3.3 g of net carbs
- 0.2 mg thiamin (15% DV)
- 0.1 mg riboflavin (4% DV)
- 1.3 mg niacin (6% DV)
- 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (6% DV)
- 27.2 mcg folate (7% DV)
- 273 mg calcium (27% DV)
- 4.1 mg iron (23% DV)
- 98.3 mg magnesium (25% DV)
- 176mg phosphorus (18% DV)
- 131 mg potassium (4% DV)
- 2.2 mg zinc (14% DV)
- 1.1 mg copper (57% DV)
Observing from a different angle, sesame seeds contain up to 50% oil and are 20% protein . Most of their fat is polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), specifically omega-6 fatty acids. However, they also have an almost equal amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs).
Can You Eat Sesame Seeds on a Keto Diet?
Yes, sesame seeds are keto-friendly. They have only 3.3 g of digestible carbs in an ounce. Besides that, half of their weight comprises fat and a significant portion of protein. That means that sesame seeds have a balanced macronutrient ratio that can fit into any keto meal plan.
The fat in sesame seeds is primarily omega-6 and monounsaturated fatty acids. The former is one of two essential fatty acids needed for skin health, hair growth, healthy metabolism, and bone health. Monounsaturated fats are considered some of the most beneficial. They help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke .
A variety of essential and non-essential fats is crucial to a keto diet as much as total fat intake. That is because different fats provide different functions and benefits. Sesame seeds can help with this, thanks to their varied fat composition.
Health Benefits of Including Sesame Seeds in Your Diet
Nutritious, delicious, and affordable, it’s not hard to see why sesame seeds should be part of your keto diet. However, if you’d like to know more about why sesame seeds on keto is a good idea, check out these additional benefits:
Healthy blood pressure
According to some studies, the unsaturated fatty acids in sesame seeds can help lower blood pressure. A systematic review of such research concluded that consumption of sesame seeds could reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure .
These seeds contain sesamin, which is lignin with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies have found that they can reduce your risk of heart disease by keeping inflammation and oxidative stress low in your circulatory system . These two problems are believed to be an underlying reason behind heart disease.
Being rich in MUFAs and protein, sesame seeds may boost the weight-loss benefits of keto. We know that the body has a propensity to use MUFAs immediately for energy instead of storage, which helps with weight control . In addition, protein is a satiating nutrient and is “expensive” for the body to metabolize, meaning that your body spends energy during protein metabolism.
Conclusion and Key Takeaways
Like most seeds, sesame seeds are also keto-friendly. Sesame seeds on keto can help boost your intake of essential fats, protein, and numerous micronutrients. In addition, these tasty and crunchy seeds were also found to provide many health benefits, notably being good for blood pressure and metabolism.
And because they’re relatively affordable, it’s easy to get all these benefits by adding them to your diet as a daily staple. Consider sprinkling them over baked goods, adding them to fat bombs, mixing in keto oatmeal, or consuming as tahini or sesame oil.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Seeds, sesame seeds, whole, dried. April 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170150/nutrients
- Martinchik AN. Vopr Pitan. 2011;80(3):41-43. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21842753/#:~:text=Sesame%20seeds%20contain%20up%20to,lignans%20(sesamin%20and%20sesamolin).
- Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G. Monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil and health status: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Lipids Health Dis. 2014;13:154. Published 2014 Oct 1. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-154
- Khosravi-Boroujeni H, Nikbakht E, Natanelov E, Khalesi S. Can sesame consumption improve blood pressure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials. J Sci Food Agric. 2017;97(10):3087-3094. doi:10.1002/jsfa.8361
- Yang ZH, Miyahara H, Iwasaki Y, Takeo J, Katayama M. Dietary supplementation with long-chain monounsaturated fatty acids attenuates obesity-related metabolic dysfunction and increases expression of PPAR gamma in adipose tissue in type 2 diabetic KK-Ay mice. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2013;10(1):16. Published 2013 Jan 30. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-10-16