Tahini sauce has become a popular condiment around the world due to its creamy texture and nutty flavor. It’s made from sesame seeds that have been hulled, roasted, and ground into a paste. This paste is then combined with ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to create the final sauce.
But is tahini sauce actually high in calories? Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional information to find out.
What is tahini?
Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. Specifically, it’s made from hulled sesame seeds that have been roasted and then milled into a smooth paste.
Sesame seeds are packed with nutrients. A 100 gram serving contains 573 calories and provides:
- 25 grams of protein
- 50 grams of fat
- 12 grams of carbs
- 18% RDI for calcium
- 57% RDI for magnesium
Tahini contains all the same nutritional elements as sesame seeds since it’s made directly from them. It’s high in healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
The main nutritional difference between tahini and whole sesame seeds is fiber content. Since the seeds are ground into butter, most of the fiber is removed during the milling process.
Nutrition facts for tahini
A 100 gram serving of tahini contains:
- 544 calories
- 17 grams of protein
- 54 grams of fat
- 14 grams of carbs
As you can see, tahini packs a lot of calories and fat into a small serving. About 89% of those calories come from fat.
The predominant type of fat in tahini is monounsaturated fatty acids, primarily oleic acid. This is the same good fat found abundantly in olive oil and avocados.
Tahini also contains linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, and a small amount of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.
In addition to healthy fats, tahini provides sesame’s array of vitamins and minerals like:
It’s also a good source of B vitamins including thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate.
Nutrition facts for tahini sauce
When tahini is transformed into a sauce, it’s diluted with ingredients like water, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. This lightens the calorie and fat load.
A 2 tablespoon (30 gram) serving of tahini sauce provides:
- 163 calories
- 5 grams protein
- 14 grams fat
- 4 grams carbs
Once again, over 80% of the calories in tahini sauce come from fat. But you are consuming a third of the calories compared to eating the tahini paste straight.
The nutritional profile can vary based on the specific ingredients used in the sauce. For example, olive oil and tahini blends will have more calories than sauces thinned with water. Garlic, lemon, herbs, and spices add trace calories and nutrients.
Tahini sauce nutrient density
Despite the high calorie and fat content, tahini sauce has an excellent nutrient profile.
Sesame seeds are very dense in minerals. By using tahini as the base, you are packing all those minerals into each spoonful of sauce.
Just a 2 tablespoon serving of tahini sauce provides:
- 12% DV for phosphorus
- 9% DV for magnesium
- 8% DV for iron
- 6% DV for zinc
It also contains decent amounts of copper, potassium, and calcium.
So while each serving comes with over 150 calories, you get a big dose of necessary vitamins and minerals.
Tahini sauce calories compared to other sauces
How does tahini sauce compare to other popular condiments and sauces calorie-wise?
Here is the calorie count for 2 tablespoons of different sauces:
- Ranch dressing: 150 calories
- Peanut sauce: 88 calories
- Soy sauce: 20 calories
- Balsamic vinaigrette: 63 calories
- Ketchup: 30 calories
- Mayonnaise: 200 calories
Tahini sauce is on the higher end for calorie density, coming in close to ranch dressing and mayonnaise. It has over double the amount of calories compared to lighter sauces like soy, balsamic, and ketchup.
However, tahini sauce is made entirely from whole foods – sesame, olive oil, lemon, garlic, etc. It does not contain added sugars or unhealthy oils found in dressings like ranch. So while it’s high in calories, those calories come with a nutritious punch.
Does tahini sauce support weight loss?
With all those calories and fats, it may seem counterintuitive that tahini sauce could be part of a weight loss plan. But its nutrition profile actually makes it a smart addition.
Here are some of the weight loss benefits of tahini:
- High fiber – Sesame seeds are naturally high in fiber, which helps you feel full and satisfied after eating. This can prevent overeating.
- Plant-based fat – The monounsaturated fats in tahini offer a healthier alternative to saturated fats from animal sources like butter or lard.
- Low carb – With just 4 grams of carbs per serving, tahini sauce fits into low carb, Keto, or Paleo diets.
- Protein – The protein in tahini sauce helps stabilize blood sugar. This prevents energy crashes and sugar cravings.
- Nutrient density – The vitamins and minerals in tahini offer nutritious support for an active metabolism.
By displacing less healthy condiments, tahini sauce can absolutely complement a weight loss diet.
Should you limit tahini sauce on a diet?
On calorie-restricted diets, portion control becomes important. Even healthy fats and protein should be enjoyed in moderation.
Here are some tips for keeping tahini sauce in check:
- Measure servings instead of pouring freely from a bowl.
- Aim for about 2 tablespoons per meal.
- Pair it with low-calorie foods like raw veggies instead of bread.
- Thin the sauce with lemon juice or water to reduce calories.
- Drizzle it over dishes instead of dipping.
You definitely don’t need to completely restrict tahini sauce when trying to lose weight. But be mindful of portions and enjoy it alongside plant foods that provide fiber and bulk.
Best uses for tahini sauce on a diet
How can you incorporate tahini sauce into a healthy diet plan? Here are some slimming recipe ideas:
Salad dressings – Whisk tahini sauce, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs into a creamy dressing for lettuce or grain bowls.
Vegetable dips – Use it as a lower-fat swap for cheese or sour cream dips with fresh vegetables.
Raw veggie drizzle – Drizzle thinned tahini sauce over carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
Zoodles – Toss spiralized zucchini noodles with a tahini sauce in place of heavy pasta sauces.
Buddha bowls – Add a dollop of tahini sauce to complete a veggie filled Buddha bowl.
Stir fries – Mix tahini sauce into stir fries made with lean proteins and loads of vegetables.
Sandwich spread – Schmear a tablespoon of tahini sauce onto sandwiches in lieu of mayo or cheese.
Can tahini sauce lead to weight gain?
While tahini sauce offers some nutritional advantages, eating too much can definitely lead to weight gain. A few concerns include:
High calorie density – With over 160 calories per serving, tahini sauce can quickly tip the scales if you aren’t careful about portions.
Easy overconsumption – The rich, creamy texture makes tahini sauce very easy to overeat, especially when drizzled on bread or used to liberally coat vegetables.
Added sugars – Some commercial brands add corn syrup, honey, or cane sugar to tahini sauces, unnecessarily increasing the calorie content.
Processed oils – Low quality tahini sauces may include unhealthy vegetable oils like soybean, cottonseed, or canola instead of olive oil.
To keep tahini sauce from leading to weight gain, pay attention to serving sizes, ingredients, and how you incorporate it into your diet.
Homemade vs. store-bought tahini sauce
Making your own tahini sauce at home has some clear nutritional advantages over pre-made bottled varieties.
Benefits of homemade tahini sauce include:
- Control the quality of ingredients
- Avoid added sugars
- Use natural thickeners like sesame seeds
- Customize flavors to your taste
- Keep sodium content low if desired
However, store-bought sauces offer convenience. Look for brands with minimal added sugars and organic, high quality oils. Some bottled sauces rival homemade both in nutrition and taste.
Ultimately, your homemade tahini sauce can be as slimming or fattening as you make it. Load it with vegetables instead of oils, or experiment with yogurt or silken tofu to lighten the mixture.
Tahini sauce is high in calories and fat compared to many condiments, with over 160 calories in a standard 2 tablespoon serving. About 80% of these calories come from the healthy fats found in sesame seeds and olive oil.
Despite the rich texture and taste, tahini sauce can absolutely complement a weight loss diet. It provides fiber, plant-based fats, protein, and an array of vitamins and minerals. When used in moderation and paired with nutritious whole foods, tahini sauce makes a delicious addition to any healthy eating plan.