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The wind was picking up, and the clouds were rolling in as the chilly air drifted downward. Annie noticed the drop in temperature and wrapped her jacket tighter as she hurried home. It had gotten five degrees colder since she left the farmer’s market. She passed the neighborhood’s famous old oak tree. Glancing up, she saw the family of three owls snuggled against the trunk and each other, their feathers blowing wildly in the wind. They were supposed to be asleep but were agitated because of the impending rainstorm that was about to hit. She picked up her pace, feeling a sense of urgency as the rain started to fall.
LJ heard the front door slam. “looks like you made it just in time,” he said as he walked into the foyer to help her with her backpack. “Find what you were looking for?”
Annie gave him a quick, cold kiss. “Your lips are so warm,” she laughed. “Yes, I got the chamomile, and the yerba mate leaves, so mission accomplished. Would you like a cup of tea?”
“That sounds good. I can sip as I make Benne Cookies.”
“Do they have something to do with that fragrant smell coming from the kitchen?”
“Yes,” he said, walking down the hall. “It’s warm in the kitchen, and I’ll show you.”
Annie followed him up to the stove, where he took the lid off a small frying pan. Inside were tiny, toasted seeds. “They smell nutty. What are they?”
“These are Benne seeds. Benne is the ancestral name for sesame. The plant was first domesticated in India. Travelers brought it to China, Japan, and Africa. By way of the Caribbean, benne seeds were brought to the Low Country of South Carolina by enslaved Africans, significantly influencing the region’s cuisine. These tiny seeds are used in many recipes and dishes, adding flavor and texture to various foods. But beyond their culinary uses, benne seeds also offer many health benefits, from being high in fiber and protein to being rich in antioxidants and minerals.
The most common way to eat benne seeds is by toasting them to be used in soups, stews, and sweet treats. Commercially, they are crushed for their oil used for sauteing, stir-frying, and salad dressing.”
“So that’s where sesame seeds came from?” said Annie. “Good to know. I like sesame seeds in Asian salads. What are some of the nutritional benefits?”
LJ smiled as he began measuring the ingredients for the cookies. “Since you’ve been focused on bone health recently, you’ll be happy to know Benne seeds are a nutritional powerhouse contributing to bone health. They have high levels of calcium, which helps maintain bone mineral density. They are also rich in Vitamins K and B6, which help strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Benne seeds also have essential fatty acids like omega-3s that help to improve overall joint health.
Another benefit of benne seeds is as a source of plant compounds known as phytoestrogens. They are known to influence the body’s estrogen levels, which can benefit women suffering from low estrogen symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause.
Benne seeds also contain phytosterols, which have been proven to help lower cholesterol levels. Phytosterols are plant-based compounds that reduce the absorption rates of dietary cholesterol, thereby reducing the amount of cholesterol in your body. Benne seeds can help with weight loss as they are a source of high amounts of fiber, which helps burn fat and reduce appetite.
Benne seeds have considerable amounts of healthy fats that can improve heart health and overall blood pressure. In addition, benne seeds hold essential vitamins and minerals that can help reduce inflammation.
Benne seeds are rich in dietary fiber, which helps to keep the digestive system healthy by reducing bloating, constipation, and cramping. The oily composition of sesame seeds can help improve digestion by softening the content of the intestines, which helps prevent hard stools and provide constipation relief. Additionally, Benne seed’s essential vitamins and minerals help support gut health.
And there’s the earth-friendly aspect of benne seeds. They are a great plant-based protein source that requires minimal water and land to grow, making them a good choice for our garden. They have vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients to support our immune systems.”
“Impressive,” said Annie as she examined a single seed.
LJ continued, “Benne seeds have a singular influence on human and the earth’s health. These tiny seeds are packed with nutritional benefits and can affect our environment positively. They are rich in antioxidants, protein, vitamins, and minerals and are an excellent source of nutrition for people worldwide. Because they can be grown regeneratively and sustainably, they help protect our planet’s natural resources while providing us with healthy food options. The more benne seeds and products we use, the more they help support our health and earth.”
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.
The Food-as-Medicine philosophy is based on the belief that whole food is a traditional remedy with the therapeutic power to improve and maintain one’s health. The philosophy has been around for hundreds of years.Read More