Seeds and Cereals

Health Benefits of Sunflower Seed

Sunflower seeds are a unique food, rich in many types of essential nutrients, and sometimes hard to find. In fact, sunflower seeds are foods rich in vitamin E, copper, B vitamins like thiamin, phosphorus, selenium and more.

In medicine, sunflower seeds serve as a dense source of vitamins, minerals and essential oils. Not only a great snack, sunflower seeds offer a number of extraordinary health benefits that alternate with medications, preventing many types of ailments.

Sunflower seeds, like almost all types of nuts and seeds, provide a healthy source of essential fatty acids.

Its specific fatty acids are in the form of linoleic acid (good fat, also known as omega 6). In addition, sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of fiber, amino acids (especially tryptophan) that make up the building blocks of protein, B vitamins, phytosterols (sterols present in plants) and much more.

SUNFLOWER SEED BENEFITS

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease – The high supply of antioxidant vitamin E (80% of your recommended daily value in every ¼ cup of seeds) helps to reduce dangerous inflammation throughout the body, leading to various diseases. Frequent consumption of sunflower seeds has been shown to help balance cholesterol levels, reduce high blood pressure , lower  high blood pressure  and protect against heart disease, once inflammation levels are under control.
  • Helps prevent cancer due to high antioxidant content – Studies show that sunflower seeds are especially useful for preventing  cancer  through a high nutrient diet. The important range of antioxidants, trace elements and other vitamins found in sunflower seeds help to reduce the body’s oxidative stress, which when left unchecked, contributes to the development of cancer.
  • Supports Thyroid Function Through Selenium – One of the main causes of thyroid disorders, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, is a deficiency of mineral selenium. Sunflower seed is fortunately an excellent source of selenium. Certainly one of the keys to controlling thyroid disorders without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Including more selenium and iodine in the diet will be of great benefit.
  • Helps fight osteoporosis, bone loss and muscle cramps – Sunflower seeds provide a lot of essential mineral. Magnesium plays many important roles within the body: it helps balance the calcium/potassium ratio within cells, it is crucial for overall cardiovascular health, and it aids in healthy blood pressure.
  • Balances blood sugar levels and helps prevent diabetes – A diet rich in all kinds of nuts and seeds has been shown to reduce hyperglycemia and help balance blood sugar levels. This decreases the chance of developing metabolic syndrome, including diabetes or insulin resistance. We know from analyzing the diet of populations that traditionally consumed a large amount of seeds that the compounds found in them help to fight diseases related to uncontrollable blood sugar levels.
  • Improves Skin Health – Studies have shown that antioxidant vitamin E is especially helpful in keeping skin young, strong and healthy. Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E plus essential fatty acid lipids that help keep your skin hydrated and free from sun damage and pollution.

SUNFLOWER SEED PROPERTIES

Sunflower seeds naturally come from sunflowers. With the scientific name Helianthus annuus (sunflower), of the Asteraceae family , the yellow flowers produce small edible seeds, which are gray or greenish, originally found with dark, gray or black layers called barks.

Sunflowers are native to North America. There is evidence that they were cultivated by Native Americans until 3000 BC. However, they were discovered and taken to Europe, and then spread to Russia, where they were first marketed as a crop and used for oil.

In the late 1800s, they were brought back to North America, where they are still popular today for their oil, seeds and as a beautiful addition to your garden.

Today, sunflower seed is one of the most consumed seeds in the world, especially in the United States.

There are actually three types of sunflower seeds commonly used: Nino sunflower seed (most common), Altas and Oleicas, and NuSun. The most frequently eaten type is the linoleic type.

The three varieties have different nutrient content but are very similar in terms of health benefits and uses.

Sunflower seeds that have been peeled (removed from their husks) are said to have a light nutty flavor compared to other nutty and medium to firm texture.

SUNFLOWER SEED NUTRIENTS

A ¼ serving of sunflower seeds provides (at recommended values):  190 calories, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber. 

  • 82%  Vitamin E;
  • 70% DV  copper;
  • 43%  vitamin B1 (thiamine);
  •  34% manganese;
  • 34% selenium;
  • 33%  phosphorus;
  •  28% magnesium;
  • 28% vitamin B6;
  •  20% folate;
  • 18% vitamin B3;

HOW TO CONSUME SUNFLOWER SEED

It’s very easy to add sunflower seeds to some of your favorite snacks and meals. Try these simple ways to get the best of them with frequent nutrients in your diet.

  • Add seeds to hamburgers, kebabs and meat buns;
  • Use a few seeds in a salad or butter sunflower seeds for a homemade dressing;
  • Try adding them to your tuna or salmon salad as they add good texture to the dish;
  • Add sunflower seed butter to your oats in the morning, spread it on sprouted chickpea toast, or add a tablespoon to your favorite healthy milkshake recipes;
  • Add the seeds to any baked goods you make, including cakes, breads and cookies;
  • Use sunflower seeds in place of flax or chia seeds in any recipe, or sunflower seeds in place of other butter;
  • Use sunflower seeds in any of your recipes to create healthy snack ideas;

HOW TO PEEL THE SUNFLOWER SEED

The quickest and easiest way to remove whole sunflower seed husks before using them in recipes is to add them to a blender, food processor or even coffee grinder so that they become “ground”.

This is similar to the way flax seeds are ground and is a common practice done to release some nutrients from the seeds that can be disregarded and absorbed when the husks are intact.

HOW TO MAKE SUNFLOWER SEED FLOUR

Once the seeds are ground, you can pour water over them and the pieces of husk that remain should float to the top of the container so you can easily remove them, leaving only the clean seeds at the bottom. 

Avoid over-grinding, or you may end up with sunflower butter. Periodically spray the flour through a flour filter or fine mesh filter and repeat until all seeds are finely ground. A cup of sunflower seeds makes about a cup of flour.

Allow the seeds to dry and then store them in a dry container in the refrigerator.

Sunflower seed flour serves as a good substitute for almond flour. Rich in protein and fiber, sunflower flour is slightly nutty, yet neutral enough to use in many baked goods as well as breads. Nutless macarons are on the try list.

But beware: when using sunflower seed meal in a baking soda recipe, you may notice small green spots on your baked goods. This is a result of the chemical reaction between the two ingredients, and it’s perfectly safe to eat.

HOW TO MAKE SUNFLOWER SEED TEA

One way to enjoy the benefits of drinking sunflower seed is through its tea. To prepare, you will need:

  • Two tablespoons of toasted sunflowers and a liter of water.

In a jar, put the water and seeds and place on the fire, waiting to boil for exactly 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover, waiting for it to cool. Then strain and drink up to 4 cups during the day.

In addition to helping with labyrinthitis, it has several nutrients for health both in physical and internal appearance and, in this way, it helps our body a lot in the stages of weight loss. The sunflower seed works in an integral way, reducing our bad cholesterol, named as (LDL) and also generates the same action with the toxins, when we aspire to lose weight.

What we want is physical well-being and daily health, the seed does just that with a reduction in cholesterol and bodily toxins.

SUNFLOWER SEED CONTRAINDICATIONS

Fortunately, concerns and allergies to sunflower seeds are not very common.

The seeds are not composed of oxalates, purines or other substances such as aflatoxins or mold that cause allergies, damage the  metabolism . The only thing to exalt about consuming sunflower seeds is that they are omega-6 polyunsaturated fat, so care must be taken to balance your intake of omega-6 with omega-3 as well.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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