Do you know there are numerous benefits of sunflower seeds? They work like magic in the body. They are tiny but are a bunch full of nutrients and energy. As the sunflower is a beautiful plant, its seed also has magical benefits. Before proceeding to the article let’s have a look at some information about the sunflower seed.
- Sunflower seed is the fruit of the sunflower plant.
- Three types of sunflower seeds are commonly used, which are:
- High oleic
- Sunflower oil seeds.
- All these types contain levels of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats.
- Linoleic is the most commonly used seed of sunflower.
- The annual production and trade of sunflower seeds are 52 million tonnes globally, according to FAOSTAT, The united States.
- Single sunflower plant has about 2000 seeds.
Facts about sunflower
- Sunflower seeds are used commonly as snack items.
- They are also used for garnishing, dressing of the salad.
- Sunflower seeds are eaten plain but are also eaten roasted or dusted in salt.
- In Asian countries, these seeds are available as street food and freshly roasted.
- They are available in flavors as well.
- Sunflower seeds are added to the baked food items for taste.
- Sunflower butter is also available in the market as other butter.
- Not just for humans, but sunflower seeds are also consumed by pets and birds.
- Sunflower seeds are sold in two forms, solid raw seeds and pressed oil form.
- Sunflower seeds are found in black and white shells.
- This is known as Health-promoting snack.
Nutritional and health benefits of sunflower seeds
In the healthcare system, the sunflower seeds are considered so important. These tiny packs are full of nutrients and are very healthy. It is rich in vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium. Sunflower seeds are a good choice when a person is hungry. It gives you an essential amount of nutrients, a body needs in hunger. The nutritional value of sunflower given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture ‘s nutrient database is:
- 1/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds has 204 calories
- 1/2 cup of seeds with the edible hulls has 67 calories
For some people who love taking dusted and roasted seeds with salt:
Sunflower seeds roasted in oil contains:
Nutrients available in 30 gms of dry roasted seeds are:
|Total fat, which includes:||14 grams|
|• Saturated fat||1.5 grams|
|• Polyunsaturated fat||9.2 grams|
|• Monounsaturated fat||2.7 grams|
|Vitamin E||37% of the Reference Daily Intake|
|Niacin||10% of the RDI|
|Vitamin B6||11% of the RDI|
|Folate||17% of the RDI|
|Pantothenic acid||20% of the RDI|
|Iron||6% of the RDI|
|Magnesium||9% of the RDI|
|Zinc||10% of the RDI|
|Copper||26% of the RDI|
|Manganese||30% of the RDI|
|Selenium||32% of the RDI|
Sunflower seeds are high sources of vitamin E and Selenium, that serve as antioxidants of the body. They protect our body from chronic diseases caused by free radicals. Sunflower seeds contain Flavonoids and phenolic acids that also serve as antioxidants.
For health benefits, sunflower seeds are:
- Selenium present in sunflower seeds helps in DNA Synthesis.
- Niacin or vitamin B-3 present in sunflower seeds helps in DNA repairing and lowering cholesterol.
- Vitamin B6 in sunflower seeds makes the body produce serotonin and norepinephrine which helps to transmit brain signals.
- Vitamin B6 also reduces PMS symptoms.
- Sunflower seeds help in reducing blood pressure.
- Sunflower seeds reduce inflammation.
- Vitamin E in sunflower seeds lowers the C-reactive protein levels. (C-reactive protein are inflammatory markers that increase. the risk of heart diseases.
- Sunflower seeds contain fibers that are important for bowel movements.
- These fibers also manage sugar levels in the bloodstream.
- These fibers promote loss of weight.
- Sunflower seeds reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- In sunflower seeds, a compound is found which is important which inhibits the constriction in the blood vessels.
- The magnesium in sunflower helps in lowering blood pressure levels.
- Linoleic acid in sunflower seed relaxes the blood vessels and lowers the cholesterol levels.
Studies done on heart diseases
- A 3-week study done, stated that, women with type 2 diabetes who ate 1 ounce of sunflower seeds daily with a balanced diet experienced a 5% drop in systolic blood pressure.
- Researches also noted a 9% to 12% decrease in bad or LDL cholesterol level and triglycerides.
- Furthermore, in a study of 13 studies, people with the highest linoleic acid intake had a 15% low chance of heart diseases, such as heart attack, and a 21% less chance of dying of heart disease, compared to those with the low intake of linoleic acid.
For blood sugar level or diabetes
- Researches stated that people who eat 30 gms of raw sunflower seeds daily with a healthy diet reduce fasting blood sugar by 10%, compared to a healthy diet without seeds.
- The lowering blood sugar effect of sunflower seeds is because of the presence of a plant compound chlorogenic acid.
- Some studies also show that adding sunflower seeds to foods like bread may help in reducing the effect of carbs on the blood sugar. The fat and protein in the sunflower seeds slow the rate at which your stomach empties, allowing a more release of sugar from carbs.
- As told above that sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium. Several studies have stated, that magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma. it lowers high blood pressure, and also prevents migraines.
- Magnesium is an essential ingredient for healthy bones and energy production. About 2/3 of the magnesium in the body is present in the bones. Magnesium gives bones their physical structure.
- Magnesium counterbalances calcium, which helps to regulate nerve and muscle tone. In many nerve cells, magnesium serves as calcium channel blocker by nature. It inhibits calcium from entering into the nerve cell. By blocking calcium’s entry, magnesium keeps our nerves, and the blood vessels and muscles relaxed.
- As told above that selenium is known for DNA repairing, because of this, selenium also serves as protection from cancer.
- Selenium is located at the active site of many proteins, including “glutathione peroxidase” which is particularly important for cancer protection. Glutathione peroxidase is one of the body’s most powerful antioxidant enzymes and is used in the liver to detoxify a wide range of potentially harmful molecules.
- Vitamin E found in sunflower seeds is also beneficial for the appearance of the skin. The elasticity of the skin and also help reduce scars, wrinkles, and signs of aging.
- Selenium, an antioxidant found in sunflower seeds assists Vitamin E and does a good job to repair the skin. Vitamin E contains fatty acids that improve the collagen fibers in the skin from which the elasticity improves.
- Magnesium in sunflower seeds is required for a proper function of the nervous system. Magnesium itself is found in neural receptors which are known as NMDA receptors that are found in nerve cells. They are required for long memory, effective learning, and brain development and growth.
Sunflower seeds oil
The oil of sunflower seeds is also available in the market and is trade on a big scale. This oil is used as and processed into polyunsaturated margarine. The oil is extracted by putting pressure on the sunflower seeds. That is how they collect the oil. The protein-rich residue remaining after the seeds have been processed for oil is used as a feed for livestock.
The original sunflower oil is known as “linoleic sunflower oil” which is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and about 68% linoleic acid is present in it. It is low in saturated fats, for example, palmitic acid and stearic acid.
Sunflower oil contains several beneficial compounds for the skin. Those compounds include:
- Oleic acid
- Vitamin E
- Linoleic acid
Linoleic acid in sunflower oil helps to maintain the skin’s natural barrier and supports its ability to retain moisture. It also gives an anti-inflammatory effect when used topically. It is beneficial for dry skin and in some conditions, like eczema.
A study including 19 volunteers, which compared the effects of topically applied sunflower oil to olive oil, found that sunflower oil is more effective and beneficial at improving skin hydration and maintaining the integrity of the skin’s outer layer.
The linoleic acid in sunflower oil makes it effective for protecting skin against bacteria and germs. In a study performed on premature infants found that the topical application of sunflower oil significantly reduced infant mortality caused by hospital-acquired infections, such as sepsis.
How to make sunflower seeds?
Sunflower seeds are available either in the shell or as shelled kernels. The seeds in the shell are commonly eaten by cracking them with your teeth and removing the shell. The sunflower seeds are a particularly popular snack at baseball games and other outdoor sports games as a chewing item.
Let’s have a look at many ways in which you can eat them:
- Stir into homemade granola bars
- Sprinkle on a leafy green salad
- Stir into hot or cold cereal
- Sprinkle over fruit or yogurt parfaits
- Add to stir-fries
- Stir into tuna or chicken salad
- Sprinkle over sautéed vegetables
- Add to veggie burgers
- Use in place of pine nuts in pesto
- Top casseroles
- Grind the seeds and use them as a coating for fish
- Add to baked goods, such as bread and muffins
- Dip an apple or banana in sunflower seed butter
Sunflower seeds turn blue-green when baked. This is due to a chemical reaction between the seeds. The reaction between chlorogenic acid and baking soda is harmless. But you can reduce the amount of baking soda to minimize this reaction.
Lastly, sunflower seeds are prone to becoming rancid because of the high-fat content present in them. Store them in an airtight jar in the refrigerator to protect against rancidity.
Before you leave!
Sunflower is healthy and beneficial but its excessive use can be dangerous because it is high in calories. You should ask your doctor if you are allergic to sunflower or sunflower seed before using it. Sunflower seeds are nutty, crunchy, and tasty. They have a punch of nutrients which are the basic needs of the human body, and help in fighting with many chronic illnesses, diabetes, heart disorder, and inflammation.
Keep in mind that many processed sunflower seeds are loaded with salt. Too much salt in your diet is tough on your heart and kidneys. It may also cause you to retain water and lead to high blood pressure. To keep sodium on the lower side, eat raw, unsalted sunflower seeds. They are also high in calories so don’t take too much!
Q.) What pantothenic acid does to the body?
A.) Pantothenic acid is found in sunflower, which helps the body to produce energy by metabolizing fat, protein, and carbs. This also lowers cholesterol and promotes wound healing.
Q.) What is the role of folate in sunflower seeds?
A.) Folate prevents cancer. It gives a boost to memory and improves heart health. Researches are still on the way to found more effectiveness of folate.
Q.) Can sunflower seeds increase body weight?
A.) Yes, sunflower seeds are rich in fat and calories. Intake of many seeds or exceeding the daily requirement can increase the weight.
Q.) What are the symptoms of sunflower allergies?
A.) Some people are allergic to sunflower or its seeds. If they inhale or consume then they may experience:
- Mouth swelling
- Skin lesions
Q.) Can a high consumption of sunflower seeds cause kidney damage?
A.) due to high quantity of phosphorus in sunflower seed, the high intake of seeds can cause damage to kidneys and impact the function.
Q.) Do sunflower seeds improve hair health?
A.) vitamin E in the seeds help in improving hair growth. It also contributes to the volume of hair and nourishes the scalp.
Q.) What is the daily requirement of sunflower seeds?
A.) 1 ounce or 30 grams is the average daily intake of sunflower seeds. Exceeding this limit can be harmful.