Til Laddoo,til chikki, til -gur are the most popular Sankranthi festival food in India. Til or Sesame seeds are an important part of Indian cuisine for centuries. It is especially consumed in winters for its warming nature. Apart from inducing rich taste to cuisine, til have many health benefits. One of the least known health benefits of til/sesame seeds is that it can help treating iron-deficient Anemia. Let’s learn how to use til or sesame seeds to boost hemoglobin level and cure anemia.
How to take sesame seeds/til for boosting hemoglobin level ?
Sesame plant is a tall annual herb in the Pedaliaceae family, which grows extensively in Asia, particularly in Burma, China, India, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Nigeria. The scientific name of sesame seeds is Sesames indicum which is also known as Gingelly seeds or white til. Beside this, the scientific name of black til or niger seed is Guizotia abyssinica.
Sesame seeds are small, almost oblate in shape. Toasted sesame features pleasant, nutty flavor.
Sesame seeds can be helpful to improve your hemoglobin level to a greater extent. It all depends on how you are consuming it on a daily basis.
All the seeds contain densely packed nutrition and til is not an exception. The table below mentions the nutritive value of white til and black til.
Table 1 : Comparison of nutritive value of white til and black til (per 100g of edible portion)-
|Nutrients||White til |
(also called Gingelly seeds)
|Black til |
(also called Niger seeds)
|Crude fiber (g)||2.9||10.9|
|Free Folic acid (ug)||51.0||–|
Reference – Nutritive value of Indian Foods, 2016
Apart from the necessary nutrients, it is important to note that sesame seeds contain anti-nutritional factors too – phytate, oxalate, etc. The presence of these factors prevents the absorption of iron and calcium in our bodies. Therefore consumption method becomes important in order to minimize these antinutritional factors to get the actual benefits.
Roasting, soaking, germination, cooking are a standard method of practice to reduce the phytate and oxalate load in food. (11, 12)
Soak sesame seeds for at least 4-5 hrs. Drain the water and consume using in various preparations – making roti, salad, smoothie or even in vegetables.
You can also make a paste and prepare the famous Mediterranean spread/dip like tahini, hummus, etc.
You can take a spoonful of sesame paste with honey in the morning. Since black til has more iron content, go for the black til paste in the morning.
Roast sesame seeds for 20 minutes on a medium to low flame and make laddu /chikki by adding jaggery. This is a perfect healthy snack option for all the age groups.
This is the most effective method to reduce phytate and oxalate content. Soak the seed overnight or at least for 5-6 hrs. Then discard the excess water and keep the seeds covered with a muslin cloth and allow to rest for 2-3 days. In between all you need to do is sprinkle some water. Sprouting will start within 2-3 days. Use this in a salad or have this as the first food in the morning.
Is taking til or sesame seeds enough to boost hemoglobin?
Don’t bank on a particular food to do the magic. A particular food may have the power to improve the condition but it’s always a combination of a few positive factors /practices along with that food makes the magic.
Therefore it’s necessary to understand the problem for better management.
As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4 -2015-2016) data –
- 58.6% of children under the age of 5 are anemic
- 53.1% women (15 to 49 yrs) are anemic
That means every second child and woman is anemic in India. So you are NOT alone.
What is Anemia?
In Anemia, the number of healthy blood cells becomes very low in the body. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all of the body’s tissues, so a low red blood cell count indicates that the amount of oxygen in your blood is lower than it should be. Some of the main symptoms of Anemia are –
- Dizziness while standing up.
- Brittle Nails.
- Shortness Of Breath
- Chest Pain.
Many of the symptoms of anemia are caused by decreased oxygen delivery to the body’s vital tissues and organs. Anemia is measured according to the amount of hemoglobin — the protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. (1) (2)
What Causes Anemia?
Dietary iron, vitamin B-12, and folate are essential for red blood cells to mature in the body. Normally, 0.8 to 1 percent of the body’s red blood cells are replaced every day, and the average lifespan for red cells is 100 to 120 days. Any process that has a negative effect on this balance between red blood cell production(Erythropoiesis) and destruction (Hemolysis) can cause anemia. (3) (4)
How much of iron we need daily?
As discussed above Iron is a very essential nutrient For Red Blood Cell (RBC) production. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron is given in table 2.
Table 2: RDA of iron (based on ICMR recommendation)- mg/day
|Infants (6-12 months)||05|
|10 – 12 years Boys||21|
|10 – 12 years Girls||27|
|13 – 15 years Boys||32|
|13 – 15 years Girls||27|
|16 – 17 years Boys||28|
|16 – 17 years Girls||26|
How does sesame help to treat anemia?
Sesame Seeds are best vegetarian source of Iron for Anemic People. 3 tablespoons of Sesame seeds provides following nutrients –
|Unhulled (Black sesame seeds)||Hulled (White sesame seeds)||Function|
|Iron||24% of RDI||10% of RDI||An essential component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your red blood cells|
|Copper||136% of RDI||46% of RDI||Helps making hemoglobin|
|Vitamin B6||5% of RDI||14% OF RDI||Helps making hemoglobin|
Iron, Copper and Vitamin B6 are three essential nutrients for RBC production and maturation. All these vital nutrients are present in Sesame Seeds. Furthermore, the research found that flavonoids present in sesame are effective in raising hemoglobin levels. (5) (6) (7) (8) (9)
But this is NOT enough –
Following nutrients are crucial if you are suffering from anemia and struggling to boost your hemoglobin level –
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B 12
- Vitamin C
Consume other iron-rich foods –
Iron is the essential mineral for the formation of hemoglobin of the red blood cells. It plays an important role to transport oxygen throughout the body. Most of your iron is stored in the liver and spleen. The iron which needs to be absorbed from the diet is very small. Consume cereals, millets, pulses, green leafy vegetables can meet a fair proportion of iron needs.
Table 3: Source of iron rich foods
|Food items||Iron content (mg/100 g)|
|Watermelon seed (kernal)||7.4|
|Gingelly seed (white til)||9.3|
|Bengal gram roasted||9.5|
|Bengal gram leaves||23.8|
|Niger seeds (black til)||56.7|
|Garden cress seed||100|
Ensure intake of folic acid rich food
Folic acid is required for the multiplication and maturation of red blood cells. The deficiency of folic acid may lead to megaloblastic anemia. Fresh green leafy vegetables, liver, pulses are good sources of folic acid.
Table 4: Source of folic acid rich foods
|Food Items||Total Folic acid content(ug/100 g)|
|Bengal gram (whole)||186.0|
|Bengal gram dal||147.5|
|Bengal gram roasted||132.0|
|Green gram dal||140.0|
Take care of Vitamin B 12 –
Like folic acid, vitamin B 12 is also involved in the maturation of red blood cells. Vitamin B 12 is synthesized in our gut by bacteria. So keeping a healthy gut is essential. Vitamin B 12 is present only in animal foods –milk and milk products, egg, fish, mutton, liver, meat, etc.
Improve bioavailability of iron – Focus on your regular protein intake
If your diet has too much of cereals the range of iron absorption is between 2-5%. However, eating a good amount of protein push this range of iron absorption up to 20-30%.
Therefore eating only iron-rich food does not help until you pay attention to your protein intake. Consume a variety of pulses, sprouts, soaked nuts and seeds, milk and, milk products. If you are a non vegetarian be mindful of eating fish, meat, chicken, and egg.
Improve iron absorption- Eat vitamin C and copper-rich foods
Vitamin C and copper are mandatory for iron absorption.
It’s simple. Eat one fresh citrus fruit of your choice every day. It can be lemon, lime, orange, amla, etc. Include guava (if in the season) and sprouts in daily diet. Remember, not fruit juice consume only fresh whole fruits to fix the daily dosage of vitamin C.
Table 5: Food source of vitamin C
|Foods||Vitamin C content (mg/100g)|
Consuming a variety of cereals, pulses, nuts, and seeds is enough to supply adequate copper until one has any abnormality.
Side effects of Til/sesame seeds?
1) Some people are sensitive to sesame seeds and show hypersenitive reactions like itching, vomiting ,swelling of lips,dermatitis etc. Such individuals must exclude sesame seeds from their diet.
2)Sesame Seeds are heat-generating food so excess consumption of sesame seeds is not advisable. Due to excess heat generation, it is not advisable for pregnant women.
3) Excess consumption of Sesame seeds may cause bowel irritation and acidity. So people with weak gut have to consume it in moderation once or twice a week.
How much sesame seed to take on a daily basis?
Til is densely packed with nutrition so a little amount can do wonder. A tablespoon of til (white or black) is enough and safe to consume on a regular basis.
Can kids have sesame seeds?
Yes, it’s important that kids should develop the habit of eating a good variety of foods from the initial days. Introduce one good food (fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, pulses cereals, etc) at a time. Give some time to make the habit and then introduce the next one.
Quick tip – The less you will expose kids to fast, processed and junk food, it will be easy to develop a well-balanced food habit for kids.
Til or Sesame seeds are a good source of iron, healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. Include these magical seeds every day in your diet to reap its health benefits.
It can be soaked, sprouted and roasted to enhance its nutritional quality. Like any other food, moderation is important for Sesame seeds consumption. Due to its iron, copper and Vitamin B6 content its one of the powerful food improve hemoglobin levels for Anemic Patients. Flavonoids in Sesame seeds helps to overcome Anemia effectively. Include them in your diet to raise hemoglobin levels and kick off Anaemia. A famous phrase in Marathi says Til Gul Ghay Goad Goad Bola which means Eat sweet til laddoo and speak sweet. Stay happily healthy.