The sunflower is one of my favorite flowers, and its plentiful seeds are packed with health benefits that can help you from head to toe. They’re easily available all year round, and just a scant handful of them can mean dramatic improvement in the way you feel.
Sweet, nutty sunflower seeds are an excellent source of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Sunflower kernels are actually employed in the extraction of edible oil at commercial scale all over the world. Besides being eaten as popular snacks, they are also used in the kitchen to prepare variety of recipes.
Sunflower seeds are about 6 mm to 10 mm in length and feature conical shape with smooth surface. Their black outer coat (hull) encloses single, gray-white edible-kernel inside. Each sunflower head may contain several hundreds of edible oil seeds.
Health benefits of sunflower seeds
- They are high in energy; 100 g seeds hold about 584 calories. Nonetheless, they are one of the incredible sources of health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.
- The seeds are rich in fatty acids. They helps lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good-cholesterol” in the blood.
- They are also a very good source of proteins with fine quality amino acids such as tryptophan that are essential for growth, especially in children.
- They have anti-oxidants, which help remove harmful oxidant molecules from the body. They, also, help reduce blood sugar levels by limiting glycogen breakdown in the liver.
- The seeds are indeed a very rich source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
- Sunflower kernels are one of the finest sources of B-complex group of vitamins. They are very good sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), pantothenic acid, and riboflavin.
- Sunflowers are incredible sources of folic acid. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis. When given in anticipant mothers during the peri-conceptional period, it may prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
- Niacin and pyridoxine are other B-complex vitamins found abundantly in the sunflower seeds.Niacin helps reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn helps reduce anxiety and neurosis.
- The seeds are incredibly rich sources of many essential minerals. Calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper are especially concentrated in sunflower seeds. Many of these minerals play a vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme secretion, hormone production, as well as in the regulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.
Just a hand full of sunflower kernels a day provides much of the recommended level of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, and protein.