Sesame is originally from South Asia, where it has been used for about 5,000 years. The gluten-free seeds of this pseudograin contain 50% fat — 44% of which are polyunsaturated fatty acids — and 18% protein. Sesame can be a serious allergen.
From Wikipedia: “Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. With a rich, nutty flavor, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world. Like other nuts and foods, it can trigger allergic reactions in some people.”
“In Japan, whole seeds are found in many salads and baked snacks, and tan and black sesame seed varieties are roasted and used to make the flavouring gomashio.”
“Sesame oil is sometimes used as a cooking oil in different parts of the world, though different forms have different characteristics for high-temperature frying. The "toasted form" of the oil (as distinguished from the "cold-pressed" form) has a distinctive pleasant aroma and taste, and is used as table condiment in some regions, especially in East Asia.”
Additional uses: sesame seeds are used to make tahini, an important ingredient in hummus (Middle Eastern cuisine) and sesame bars, which contain whole sesame seeds and are processed with honey or sugar. These are a nice snack to have on hand.
“For a 100-gram serving, dried whole sesame seeds are rich in calories (573 kcal) and are composed of 5% water, 23% carbohydrates, 12% dietary fiber, 50% fat and 18% protein. The flour that remains after oil extraction from sesame seeds is 35-50% protein and contains carbohydrates. This flour, also called sesame meal, is a high-protein feed for poultry and livestock.”
“Sesame seeds are among the foods that are richest in selenium (800 µg/100 g). In addition, sesame seeds contain a remarkable amount of calcium (700 mg per 100 g).*”
“Sesame oil is used as a remedy for many ailments. It is obtained through a manufacturing process that includes cold-pressing or extraction and/or subsequent refining. The active substances in sesame oil are 35–50% oleic acid and 35–50% linoleic acid as well as smaller amounts of palmitic acid, stearic acid, sesamolin, sterols, and vitamin E.
For pharmaceutical purposes, sesame oil is used in ointments. It can be used to remove scabs and crusts, for example, impetigo scabs, and it is known for its nourishing properties for dry skin. Sesame oil is also used in injections as a solution for fat-soluble medications.*”
“Sesame seeds and sesame oil are a serious allergen to some people, including infants. … The occurrence of allergy to sesame in patients with some form of food allergy was found to be much higher than in the general population, ranging from 0.5% in Switzerland to 8.5% in Australia. In other words, allergy to sesame affects a small percentage of overall human population, but sesame allergy is high in people who already show symptoms of allergy to other foods ...
Prevalence of sesame allergy varies per country. While it is one of the three most common allergens in Israel, sesame allergy prevalence is considered small relative to other allergens in the United States. Some experts consider sesame allergies to have "increased more than any other type of food allergy over the past 10 to 20 years" in the United States. Such increasing prevalence led Canada to issue regulations that require food labels to note the presence of sesame.
In addition to products derived from sesame such as tahini and sesame oil, persons with sesame allergies are warned to stay away from a broad assortment of processed foods, including baked goods, tempeh, and generic "vegetable oil".”
“Although sesame leaves are edible as a leaf vegetable, recipes for Korean cuisine calling for ʽsesame leavesʼ are often a mistranslation, and really meanperilla.”
Note (italics): * = Translation from a German Wikipedia entry.