Sesame is grown primarily for its oil-rich seeds. The small Sesame seed is used whole in cooking for its rich nutty flavor and also yields Sesame oil. Sesame seeds are sometimes added to breads, including bagels and the tops of hamburger buns. Sesame seeds may be baked into crackers, often in the form of sticks. Sesame seeds are also sprinkled onto some sushi style foods. Whole seeds are found in many salads and baked snacks. Ground and processed, the seeds can also be used in sweet confections.
The seeds are rich in Manganese, Copper, and Calcium (90 mg per tablespoon for unhulled seeds, 10 mg for hulled), and contain vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin E (tocopherol). They contain Lignans, including unique content of sesamin, which are Phytoestrogens with antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Sesame oil had the highest antioxidant content. Sesame seeds also contain Phytosterols associated with reduced levels of blood cholesterol, but do not contain caffeine. The nutrients of Sesame seeds are better absorbed if they are ground or pulverized before consumption.