Dietribes / Practical Practice

Food Fight! Tournament of Seeds: Pumpkin seed vs. Sesame seed


Food Fight tournament
Last up in our Tournament of Seeds Round 1 battles. Who will take this Food Fight!: exotic pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds) or tiny and ancient sesame seeds?

pumpkin vs sesame

Pumpkin seed   vs* Sesame seed
Mesoamerica, 13th century origin India, 3500 BC
165 kcal calories 108 kcal
8.6 g protein 3.2 g
14.1 g total fat 9.2 g
 4.03 g MUFAs 3.45 g
0.05 g omega-3s 0.07 g
1.9 g fibre 2.6 g
2.33 mg iron 2.8 mg
15 mg calcium 188 mg

No Baloney’s results? This one could be controversial. Yes, pumpkin seeds provide over twice as much protein as an equivalent amount of sesame seeds but protein is not everything! Sesame seeds take the win based on outstanding fibre and mineral content, as well as higher per-calorie healthy fats in a 2 tbsp serving.

Keep in mind, these are whole sesame seeds with hulls intact – harder to find, but more mineral packed (Arrowhead Mills is a brand available in some stores or you can order online through American Spice Company). Unhulled sesame seeds are still a great choice, but only contain about 10% the calcium of unhulled.

Sesame seeds are often relegating to a sprinkling here and there, but we suggest finding ways to boost your sesame seed intake above a dash! For instance, we love to use tahini (sesame seed paste) in salad dressings and smoothies for it’s rich, nutty taste. Tahini is also an ingredient in homemade hummus – calcium double-whammy of chickpeas and sesame. Try our Energy Balls recipe, which uses tahini and sesame seeds, for great on-the-go snack.

Next up in the Tournament of Seeds: the semi-final match-ups!

*Nutrition information from the Canadian Nutrient File based on 2 tbsp of “seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted” and “seeds, sesame seed kernels, whole, roasted”

5 thoughts on “Food Fight! Tournament of Seeds: Pumpkin seed vs. Sesame seed

  1. I think you have an interesting concept on matching the properties of similar foods (seeds), I am going to follow your postings, … already having some ideas!
    Although I won’t disqualify pumpkin seeds, they are delicious!!

    • Pumpkin seeds are still a big favourite, but we had to go with the underdog! But nothing beats fresh guacamole with toasted pepitas mixed in.

      • Thanks for your answer, don’t get me wrong I love sesame seeds, we call them ajonjolí in spanish and they are a basic ingredient on several ethnic dishes from appetizers to dessert, as well as toasted pepitas.

  2. Hi,

    I’m loving your series on seeds (and your writing in general).

    I’m confused about your sesame seed data though – are the seeds whole or shelled? Seems you are presenting data for WHOLE seeds (which I think still have their shell=unshelled?) But you note that it is whole, shelled.

    Whole sesame seeds are more nutrient dense (much higher calcium, mg), but pretty hard to find (they aren’t in local supermarkets – you might find in specialty stores or by mail order).

    If you compare in the USDA database (see below), the nutrient profile of whole is much better than decorticated, and resembles what you’ve presented.

    Also, might be good to add magnesium to your info (whole semame seeds are a great source). .

    Sheila Kealey
    twitter.com/skeila

    Sesame seeds – whole

    http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3600?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=25&qlookup=sesame+seeds&offset=&sort=&format=Abridged&_action_show=Apply+Changes&Qv=1&Q6636=1.0&Q6637=2.0

    Sesame seeds, decorticated
    http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3686?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=25&qlookup=sesame+seeds&offset=&sort=&format=Abridged&_action_show=Apply+Changes&Qv=1&Q6803=1.0&Q6804=2.0&Q6805=2.0

    • Great point, Sheila! You are right – the nutrient data is for unhulled seeds that are roasted. I just added a little clarifying point based on your comment to clear up any confusion. You would have to have a pretty stellar grocery store or live near a specialty store or Middle Eastern market to find unhulled, so I also added a link to Arrowhead Mills brand unhulled sesame seeds, which are available through Amazon.

      Sesame is a great source of magnesium too and, thankfully, not impacted much with hulling. In 2 tbsp, hulled sesame provides 56 mg and unhulled gives 68 mg of magnesium. We’d love to include every single nutrient in the tables, but try to limit in the interest of space!

      Thanks for reading!

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