Delicious nutty sunflower seeds are a popular snack which is undervalued. They may be small but sunflower seeds are a dense source of nutrients and full of extraordinary health benefits. Also, the sunflowers are beautiful flowers with an abundance of nutrition.
6 Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
- Lowers Cholesterol
The high-oleic-acid sunflower oil will lower both triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels according to a study at the University of Sydney, Australia. Vitamin E is one of the antioxidants found in cholesterol particles and helps prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol.
- Good for Young and Healthy Skin
They are abundant in Vitamin E which is vital for the care of the healthy skin by keeping it hydrated, and helps prevent damage created by the sun and pollution. Studies on dogs have shown that sunflower seeds and flax seeds helped to keep their skin and fur healthy and free from signs of damage even as they aged. Researchers believe that aging humans could have the same benefits.
- Cancer Reduced
The high Vitamin E in sunflower seeds is effective in cancer prevention. Studies at Harvard have shown that Vitamin E protects men from prostate cancer. Also, a study by the Texas Woman’s University suggests that it may reduce the risk of lung cancer.
- Reduces Risk of Diabetes
Through years of research, it has been found that a diet rich in nuts and seeds helps balance blood sugar levels reducing the chance of developing diabetes. U.S. National Library of Medicine gives a list of foods to always choose to help prevent diabetes and sunflower seeds are one of the foods.
“The world faces an epidemic of insulin resistance and diabetes. Our findings support preventing and treating these diseases by eating more fat-rich foods like walnuts, sunflower seeds, soybeans, flaxseed, fish, and other vegetable oils and spreads, in place of refined grains, starches, sugars, and animal fats.” ~ Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, Tufts University.
- Depression Healed Magnesium
Sunflower seeds are a very good source of magnesium which has been found in research to heal depression.
6. Helps Prevent Heart Disease
Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E which is known to help in preventing heart disease. In 1986, a study with 39,910 U.S. male health professionals aged between 40 to 75 in a Harvard study found that those who had a good amount of vitamin E had a much lower risk of dying of a heart attack.
Sunflower Seed Nutrition
Half a cup of husked sunflower seeds gives you in terms of daily requirement:
- An excellent source of vitamin E; gives over 116%.
- A great source of vitamin B1 of 69% and Manganese 68%.
- A good source of copper 63% and Magnesium 57%.
- Folate (B vitamin) with over 39%.
- Good protein of 29%.
Also, they are a good source of fiber, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus, and iron. See full details at Nutrition Data.
- The tallest sunflower grown was 30 feet, 1nch grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Germany verified on 28 August 2014 according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
- It is the national flower of Russia and the state flower of Kansas, USA.
- One of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ paintings was bought by an anonymous buyer for $39.85 million.
- They are one of the most consumed seeds in the world.
- The Incas used the sunflower as an image of their sun god.
The sunflower seeds have been growing wild since 8,500 BC in North America. They have been eaten by Native Americans for over 5,000 years who grew large flowers for the seeds to eat, utilized the sunflower seed oil, and used the flowers in ceremonial use.
Spanish explorers took sunflowers back to Spain; from there they were introduced to other European countries and eventually to Russia. By the 1800s, sunflowers covered huge fields in Russia and Ukraine.
Finally in the late 1800’s sunflowers were brought back to North America and grown for their oil, seeds, for their beauty and eventually as food for birds.
Sunflower seed oil is one of the most popular oils in the world. The leading producers are Russia, Peru, Argentina, Spain, France, China and the United States.
Buy the best sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds come either shelled or unshelled. They are usually available in prepackaged or in bulk bins (make sure that the bins are covered and that the store has a good product turnover) as we want fresh seeds.
Unshelled seeds should not be broken or dirty and be firm and not limp.
Shelled seeds can easily go rancid so make sure they do not have a yellow color. If you are getting them from a bulk bin, smell them to find out if they are fresh.
How to Store
Sunflower seeds can easily go rancid because of their high-fat content so it is best to store them in a jar with a lid in the refrigerator. Also, it is possible to store them in the freezer since the cold temperature will not greatly affect their flavor or texture.
Beautiful sunflowers give us an array of food from sunflower sprouts and buds to an abundance of tasty sunflower seeds. The whole flower and the seeds are very nutritious. So let’s make some tasty snacks and meals with them.
Recipes with Sunflower Seeds:
Healthy Carrot Salad with Black Currants and Sunflower Seeds
Simple Nutritious Spinach Salad with Sunflower Seeds