The sunflower seeds are the kernel of the sunflower (Helianthus annus). They were originally cultivated by natives of North America as a food plant. The seeds are still eaten raw, cooked, roasted, dried and/ground and also used to extract oil. They are one of the main sources of polyunsaturated oil
. The roasted sunflower seeds were also used as a substitute for coffee. Sunflower seeds were eaten by natives of California, and often ground up and mixed with other seeds in Pinole.
The tear-dropped shaped black/greyish-green colored seeds are very nutritious and just a handful of these seeds can satisfy your hunger as well as benefit your health by supplying good amounts of vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, copper, potassium, folate, vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and niacin.
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. It helps the immune system to function better. Sunflower seeds are rich sources of vitamin E
. The Europeans have used it as a remedy to cure lung-related ailments and also to treat infections like common cold
and coughs. It was also used as a substitute for Quinine to treat malaria and have been used as a diuretic and expectorant.
The sunflower seeds fall under the category of nuts that are extremely nutrient-dense and provide energy too. They can be a good health-promoting snack
for those who intend to reduce weight. It is nutritious and also satisfies hunger. Sunflower seeds are good sources of dietary fiber. They have 8.6g of dietary fiber per 100 grams serving. A diet rich in fiber
can help keep you satiated for longer hours and can prevent overeating as well as the hunger between meals. Thereby, it can contribute to weight loss.
Rejuvenates Skin & Prevents Aging
Sunflower seeds are a very good source of vitamin C and E, the important nutrients that aid skin care and prevent aging. They are powerful antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals that damage skin. It also significantly improves parameters of the skin like wrinkles, skin texture
and elasticity. By just munching on these seeds, your skin gets rejuvenated and you get an overall youthful appearance.
Aids Detoxification & Prevents Cancer
The sunflower seeds are good sources of Vitamin E and selenium that are renowned for their antioxidant properties. Selenium
induces DNA repair and DNA synthesis in damaged cells and thereby inhibits cancer cells to proliferate. It also induces apoptosis (the body’s self-destruction sequence that eliminates abnormal and worn out cells).
Controls Blood Cholesterol Levels
Among the commonly consumed nuts and seeds, sunflower seeds are the richest source of phytosterols. The plant sterols are compounds found in plants that have a structure that resembles cholesterol and when they are included in the diet, they could help reduce blood cholesterol levels
. About 2 tablespoons serving of sunflower seeds contain 67 mg phytosterols that are highly recommended to lower LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol levels. Amongst the food sources that are commonly consumed as snacks, the sunflower kernels are the richest sources of phytosterols. Sunflower seeds are good sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
that can help control cholesterol levels and prevent the risk of heart disease.
Quick Tips to Include Sunflower Seeds in Your Diet
- Just a handful of sunflower seeds- raw or roasted, can be munched at times of hunger pangs.
- Garnish any kind of salads or dishes with these seeds.
- Grind sunflower seeds into a fine powder to include in any of your dishes.
RecipeFruit-flavored sunflower seeds & spinach salad
Nutrient rich salad enriched with cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
Serves 6Preparation time:
5 minutes Ingredients:
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 10 ounces chopped spinach
- 1 cup of assorted fruits: grapes, berries and 10-12 chopped strawberries.
- 10- ounce orange/ grapefruit juice
- ¼ cup chopped brazil nuts
- ¼ cup raspberry vinaigrette (fat-free preferred)
Take a large bowl and toss all the ingredients one after another. Remember to wash the fruits and spinach before chopping. Mix well and serve.