Sunflower seeds are harvested from the flower head of the sunflower plant. While the seed itself is encased in a black and white striped shell, sunflower seeds are white and have a tender texture. Known for their distinct nutty flavor and high nutritional value, you can eat the seeds raw, roasted, or incorporated into other dishes. Sunflower seeds are popular in trail mix, multi-grain bread and nutrition bars, as well as for snacking straight from the bag. They’re rich in healthy fats, beneficial plant compounds and several vitamins and minerals.
These nutrients may play a role in reducing your risk of common health problems, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Sunflower seeds are the fruiting bodies of the sunflower plant, which bears the scientific name Helianthus anus. There are three types of commonly used sunflower seeds – one that is pressed for oil and two others, which have varying levels of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats.
According to USDA Food Data Central, they also provide us with various antioxidants and carotids, which support the immune system of the body. There is a moderate amount of thiamine, sodium, magnesium, selenium, manganese, and phosphorus in sunflower seeds, while the outer shell provides dietary fiber. You can also find small amounts of zinc, copper, and iron in these seeds, along with numerous B family vitamins.
For those with short-term or chronic inflammation, sunflower seeds can offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, flavonoids, and other plant compounds that can reduce inflammation. A study found that consuming sunflower seeds and other seeds five times or more each week resulted in lower levels of inflammation, which also lowered risk factors for several chronic diseases.
One of the best components of sunflower seeds is high vitamin E content. With roughly 80% of your daily requirements fulfilled by a 1/4 cup of these seeds, you will get a major antioxidant boost from adding these to your diet. Vitamin E can act as an antioxidant for the skin and is known to rejuvenate the skin by increasing blood circulation and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Improving Heart Health
Sunflower seeds are rich in ‘healthy’ fats, including polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. A three-fourths cup serving of sunflower seeds contains 14 grams of fat. Studies found that consumption of seeds including sunflower seeds was linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Support Thyroid function
The thyroid needs selenium because iodine-based enzymes called iodothyronine deiodinases cannot be synthesized without it. The enzymes seem to help with hypothyroidism prevention and are essential for thyroid hormone activation. So, it is important to stress that iodine cannot function without selenium.
Moreover, your body does not produce selenium; it must be obtained through supplementation or food.
Eating a large number of sunflower seeds at once has occasionally resulted in fecal impaction or stool blockages — in both children and adults. Eating sunflower seeds in the shell may increase your odds of fecal impaction, as you may unintentionally eat shell fragments, which your body cannot digest
Though allergies to sunflower seeds are relatively uncommon, some cases have been reported. Reactions may include asthma, mouth swelling, itching of the mouth, hay fever, skin rashes, lesions, vomiting and anaphylaxis
The allergens are various proteins in the seeds. Sunflower seed butter — roasted, ground seeds — can be just as allergenic as whole seeds
Sunflower seeds contain bone healthy minerals like calcium, copper and magnesium, which prevent bone mineral density loss. They also contain Vitamin E, which eases the arthritic pain. Copper found in sunflower seeds helps in the cross linking of collagen and elastin, which provides strength and flexibility in joints and bones.
Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E is not only good for the skin but also the hair. If you regularly consume these seeds, it can give your hair great texture. In addition to the minerals and antioxidants, the seeds contain iron, which can stimulate circulation and drive the blood flow to the scalp thus stimulating hair growth.
Supporting the Immune System
Sunflower seeds are a source of many vitamins and minerals that can support your immune system and increase your ability to fight off viruses. These include both zinc and selenium. Zinc plays a vital role in the immune system, helping the body maintain and develop immune cells. Selenium also plays a role in reducing inflammation, fighting infection and boosting immunity.
Studies suggest that people who eat 1 ounce (30 grams) of sunflower seeds daily as part of a healthy diet may reduce fasting blood sugar by about 10% within six months, compared to a healthy diet alone. The blood-sugar-lowering effect of sunflower seeds may partially be due to the plant compound chlorogenic acid. Sunflower seeds can decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women going through their menopause, thereby reducing the development of diabetic complications.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E neutralizes the effects of free radicals, preventing the damage of fat containing structures and molecules. The anti-inflammatory properties reduce the symptoms of asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases:
Sunflower seeds can also prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that people who consume a good amount of vitamin E are at a much lower risk of dying due to heart attack. Sunflower seeds reduce the levels of cholesterol in the blood. Vitamin E also prevents the free radicals from oxidizing the cholesterol. Vitamin E is also able to lower levels of inflammation in body. Research shows that inflammation increases the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and other complications of heart disease. Frequent consumption of sunflower seeds has been found to reduce hypertension, regulate cholesterol, and protect against heart disease.
Lowers High Blood Pressure
The magnesium content in sunflower seeds can help lower blood pressure and help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, but only if you eat them unsalted. Salt and hypertension don’t mix.