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Tahini: Buy or Bye?

Taking a deep dive into trending foods and drinks to find out if they’re worth the hype.

Bowl of tahini

Peanut butter’s Middle Eastern brethren, tahini, has become a staple in more American pantries. Made from ground up sesame seeds, this velvety spread has a nutritional resume that makes it a salubrious spread.

Tahini is a source of both calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that play a vital role in maintaining strong bones. It also has more fiber than most nut butters and provides sesamin, a unique lignan compound that is reported to have some cancer-fighting powers. And a good chunk of the calories in tahini hail from unsaturated fats which is good news for your heart. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that simply replacing about 10% of the calories in our diet from saturated fat with calories from unsaturated fat can increase numbers of endothelial progenitor cells, cell types that play roles in the regeneration of the endothelial lining of blood vessels to improve heart functioning.

The verdict: With a solid nutrition foundation and rich, toasty flavor it’s certainly worth trying to find room for tahini in your diet. Beyond hummus, tahini makes a deliciously creamy salad or grain bowl dressing. Find naked broccoli unbearably boring? Just whisk together tahini, lemon juice, Italian seasoning and a bit of water (to thin it) and drizzle it on your greens. You can also blend it into smoothies, use it as a binder in energy balls and bars and incorporate it into healthier cookie recipes.

See also: Recipe for Health: Mediterranean Chicken Tacos

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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