Did you know that there are many benefits to eating sunflower seeds?
Sunflower seeds may, in fact, be one of Mother Nature’s best kept little secrets; there are multiple health benefits of sunflower seeds. These unassuming little seeds are packed full of some of the best nutrients and health benefits, and including them in your diet can only benefit your body. There are many health benefits of sunflower seeds, as these seeds are actually the fruit of the sunflower (Helianthus annuus). The seeds are harvested from the plant’s large flower heads, which can measure more than 12 inches in diameter. A single sunflower head may contain up to 2,000 seeds. There are two main types of sunflower crops. One type is grown for the seeds you eat, while the other, which is the majority farmed, is grown for the oil. These tiny seeds are encased in a hard shell, greyish in colour. The seed is removed from the shell and then consumed in a variety of ways, which include roasting, eating them raw, or through butter and oils. The seed has a distinct nutty flavour and is pleasant to eat. When sunflower seeds sprout, their plant compounds increase. You can buy sprouted, dried sunflower seeds in stores for your convenience.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are rich in antioxidants that contribute to lowering your risk of developing serious conditions. There are many health benefits to eating sunflower seeds. They are high in protein and rich in healthy fats, which is amazing in itself, considering the size of the little seed. Wait, this is not the end of the benefits that it packs.
It’s also an excellent source of:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B6
While sunflower seeds are incredibly rich in nutrients, they are also high in calories. It is important to keep your servings to a quarter cup at a time. These seeds also contain trace elements of cadmium, and too much of this can harm your kidneys, so like everything in life…Moderation.
Nutrients per Serving
According to the USDA, ¼ cup of dry roasted sunflower seeds without salt contains:
- Calories: 207
- Protein: 5.8 grams
- Fat: 19 grams
- Carbohydrates: 7 grams
- Fibre: 3.9 grams
Ways To Incorporate Sunflower Seeds in Your Daily Meal Plan
Sunflower seeds are sold in the shell and can be eaten raw or roasted. They are removed from the outer shell by splitting the shell in half. You never eat the shell. There are a couple of ways that you can incorporate them:
- Sprinkle on top of a salad
- Add to trail mix
- Stir into oatmeal
- Sprinkle over a stir-fry or mixed vegetables
- Add to veggie burgers
- Mix into baked goods
- Use sunflower butter as a replacement for peanut butter
- Cook with sunflower oil instead of other oils
- Add into yoghourt
- Add into soup
- Add to curry
Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
There are a number of health benefits of eating sunflower seeds. Among these is reducing the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases. The nutrients support your immune system and pump your body full of energy. Here are some of the health benefits.
Sunflower seeds have amazing anti-inflammatory benefits for people suffering from chronic inflammation, such as arthritis or joint pain. They contain vitamin E, flavonoids and various other plant compounds that reduce inflammation. Those seeking relief from sunflower seeds can eat it over a salad or just add it to their breakfast cereal. Studies have found that consuming sunflower seeds 3-5 times per week significantly lowers your inflammation and, therefore, impacts other chronic illnesses.
Sunflower seeds are rich in oleic acid and linoleic acid, which are “healthy fats” and low in saturated fats and sodium. They also contain fibre, potassium, and magnesium. Sunflower seeds help to lower blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels and also reduce the occurrence of arrhythmias. The niacin and vitamin B3 in the sunflower seeds reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. A ¼ cup of sunflower seed added to your daily meal plan will drastically reduce your chances of cardiovascular disease.
The vitamin E, zinc, and selenium in sunflower seeds provide immunity to fight off viruses and boost your general well-being. Vitamin E provides an immune response and protects the body against a variety of infectious diseases. It is an antioxidant that prevents free radicals from damaging the healthy cells in our bodies. Zinc is a major contributor to our immune systems and helps and maintains our overall immunity. Selenium reduces inflammation, fights any infections and boosts immunity.
Reduces Cancer Risk
A phytosterol, Beta-sitosterol, present in sunflowers seeds, helps to prevent breast cancer by inhibiting the growth of tumour cells, decreasing the size of existing tumours and preventing mastitis. Ingestion of sunflower seeds greatly decreases the chance of colon cancer and is a powerful antioxidant against other types of cancer.
Management of Diabetes
Seeds like sunflower and flax seeds have a role in the reduction of glucose levels and can be used to treat type 2 diabetes. The bioactive components of these seeds, like chlorogenic acid in sunflower seeds, are involved in the treatment of insulin resistance or insulin production.
Vitamin B6 assists mood, concentration and memory enhancement and is found in sunflower seeds. It achieves this by releasing serotonin and norepinephrine into our bodies.
Sunflower seeds are also a fantastic remedy for treating symptoms of PMS.
Sunflower seeds are packed full of protein and fibre, which makes us feel full for a long time, reducing our food intake, which reduces the number of calories we consume. This assists in weight reduction.
Sunflower seeds are a powerful source of vitamin B1 (Thiamine). Thiamine assists with the breaking down of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats present in our food, converting them to energy. It also assists in building muscle. If you are feeling low, a handful of sunflower seeds can boost your energy significantly.
Sunflower seeds are a powerful iron source. Eating sunflower seeds will increase your iron levels, thus assisting people with anaemia.
Sunflower seeds have potent antibacterial activity. They help in effectively removing bacteria and germs from cells. They also help to flush out toxins from our bodies.
Antibacterial and antifungal properties of sunflower seeds prevent infections, thus keeping our skin silky clear. Oleic and linoleic acids present in sunflower seeds help in the formation of collagen and elastin, speeding up wound healing. They also prevent the formation of scars.
Sunflower seeds are an effective source of nutrition for pregnant women and their babies. They are loaded with vitamin E, which is extremely good for prenatal health. Vitamin E helps in the baby’s development inside the womb.
Sunflower Seeds In a Nutshell
The health benefits of sunflower seeds are worth the inconvenience of having to shell a couple of seeds, although they are available shelled. The ease that one can incorporate it into a meal, or simply eat a handful when needed, eliminates any idea that it is a difficult course to follow. There are massive health benefits for women, as it assists with PMS, breast cancer, pregnancy, and your unborn child. Considering the variety of ways to consume these seeds, there is no reason your whole family should not be eating them, as there are health benefits for all.