By Dr. Royal Lee
Summary: In this 1955 article from Natural Food and Farming, Dr. Royal Lee extols the nutritional virtues of the humble sesame seed. With a composition similar to almonds but at a fraction of the cost, sesame seeds are “mainly protein and oil, with very little carbohydrate,” Dr. Lee writes, noting that “most of us tend to overdo on carbohydrates.” The protein in sesame is particularly rich in the hard-to-come-by amino acid methionine, he says, and the seed’s oil is high in fat-soluble vitamins and phospholipids. Dr. Lee suggests a number of ways to include pureed sesame (that is, sesame butter, or tahini) in our diet, including using it as the base of a salad dressing or ice cream or as a shortening in baked goods. He also commends the Middle Eastern candy halvah—a honey-sweetened confection made primarily of sesame paste—as the rarest of rare comestibles: a dessert that is a bona fide health food. From Natural Food and Farming, 1955.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
Sesame Seed—An Important Food
Sesame seed has a composition much like almond but at a much lower price. It is mainly protein and oil, with very little carbohydrate. The protein is high in methionine, an important essential amino acid not easily obtained from most proteins. Methionine-deficient victims develop liver cirrhosis, a common disease of alcoholics once considered incurable but today treated with methionine very successfully.
Sesame seed ground into a butter like peanut butter is used in some countries—Turkey in particular—like our dairy butter is here, and it is used in almost every food in some degree. It makes first-class salad dressing when mixed with vinegar and prepared mustard. With honey and milk powder, a very tasty cream candy can be made. (It can be put into a pan and hardened by drying it out in the ice box for a few days.) As such it can be used as the base for a nut candy—the nuts put in in any proportion. Such a candy is a true health food; it contains all the food protein [sic] factors in good proportions—fats, protein, and carbohydrate. In Roman times the emergency ration for soldiers was candy made from sesame seed and honey.
A very tasty and nutritious ice cream can he made from sesame butter, honey, and milk powder.
The sesame seed can be used for [all] these purposes instead of the sesame butter if the seed is liquefied with honey in a blender or Osterizer.
Sesame butter is an ideal shortening for bread and cookies. In bread it can be used as ten percent of the flour, in place of dairy butter or other fat. Since the sesame butter is one-half oil, twice as much as other fats should be used.
In pie crust it adds a nutty flavor. In waffles and pancakes, ten percent again adds flavor and health-building protein. Doughnuts too are much improved by the ten percent addition. The tops, of course, in pancakes, waffles, muffins, or doughnuts is freshly ground Deaf Smith County Texas Wheat Flour with ten percent sesame.
When we use an unrefined fat such as sesame butter, we get very important vitamins and phospholipids (lecithin is one phospholipid) that have been lost in processing of all refined oils and hydrogenated fats. These factors are necessary to metabolize cholesterol. High blood pressure is considered one consequence of such deficiency, and it is known that cholesterol in excess predisposes to cancer (in test animals at least).
Our sense of taste is our basic guide to good food, so why not experiment a little with sesame seed. You will enjoy its flavor, and its continued use may protect you against unsuspected hazards. Most of us tend to overdo on carbohydrates. Sesame is one high protein source that adds greatly to the flavor of all common high carbohydrate foods while balancing the carbohydrate with its protein and unrefined fat.
By Royal Lee, DDS. Natural Food and Farming, Official Publication of Natural Food Associates, Inc., Vol. 1, No. 12, March 1955.