Sunflower contains highly nutritious seeds, which are grayish-green or black in color. The seeds are rich in oil, thus are used as one of the main sources of polyunsaturated fats. They form a healthy snack, rather than being a part of the meal. Sunflower seeds are available in both shelled as well as unshelled form. Sunflowers are believed to have originated from Mexico and Peru. In fact, they are also one of the plants that were first cultivated in the United States. The Native Americans used these seeds both as an oil source and as a food item. Besides, other parts of the plant, like roots, stems and flowers, were also used by them. Gradually, the cultivation of sunflower grew extensively all over the world and it became one of the most popular oils. Today, Peru, Spain, Russian Federation, Argentina, France and China are the leading commercial producers of sunflower. In this article, we will help you explore the benefits of sunflower seeds, in detail.
Health Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds
- Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, which serves as a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant. It has distinct anti-inflammatory effects, which significantly help in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Vitamin E is also highly effective in reducing the risk of colon cancer and reduces the growth of the complications associated with diabetes.
- The vitamin E present in sunflower seeds plays a key role in preventing cardiovascular diseases. It even decreases the frequency and severity of hot flashes in women passing through menopause.
- A high amount of phytosterol is present in sunflower seeds, which is known to improve the immune response and lower the risk of some cancers. It is also believed to lower the blood levels of cholesterol, to a significant degree.
- These seeds are rich in proteins and carbohydrates and thus prove to be a rich source of energy.
- Sunflower seeds contain magnesium, which is known to lower high blood pressure and reduce the severity of asthma as well. Magnesium is also effective in lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke and prevents migraine headaches.
- There are many more health benefits associated with magnesium. It helps in the growth of healthy bones and also promotes energy production. It balances the flow of calcium and thus, helps in the proper toning up of the nerves and muscles. Consuming adequate amount of sunflower seeds supply the required amount of magnesium to the body.
- Sunflower seeds contain the trace mineral selenium, which proves to be protective against the risk of cancer.
- These seeds contain high amount of tryptophan, which helps in higher secretion of serotonin. Serotonin is highly effective in waving off tensions and relaxing the brain considerably.
- Sunflower seeds are not known to have any allergic effects. They do not contain any significant quantity of purines or oxalates.
- For removing the shells from sunflower seeds, grind them in a seed mill. Then, put them in cold water and you will find the shells floating, which you can skim off using a spoon.
- If you do not have a seed mill, you can grind the seeds in a mixture. In this case, it will not grind to fine powder. But still, the shells will float on the cold water and you can remove them easily.
- Unshelled sunflower seeds are available plentifully in the stores. Unless you have your own sunflower cultivation, buying them in the unshelled form, from the stores, will be the most convenient option.