The sunflower, scientifically known as Helianthus annuus, is such a beautiful plant. Its seeds too are a wonder. With over 50 species of this plant in existence, all but three are native to North America. Those three are native to South America. Sunflower seeds have loads of health benefits; let`s discuss them.
What Nutrients Do these Seeds Have?
- Total Carbohydrate
- Dietary Fiber
- Total Fat
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin E
- Pantothenic Acid
Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Supporting Bone Health
Bone mineralization is a mechanism arranged to ensure that bones can carry out their weight-bearing responsibilities. Without proper mineralization, bones will be weak and prone to easy fractures. The bones require nutrition to function adequately. Asides calcium, some minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, and copper are required to ensure proper bone mineralization.
Improving Cholesterol Levels
These seeds, are a rich source of fats, and not any kind of fats, but specifically monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are known for reducing LDL levels, popular known as the bad cholesterol, which increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Sunflower seeds also contain fiber bountifully, and fiber supports bile excretion in feces and a corresponding reduction in overall cholesterol, as cholesterol is required for synthesis of new bile acids.
Enhancing Mood And Sleep
Magnesium is what makes sunflower seeds affect mood positively by enhancing brain levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves mood. Sunflower seeds are also rich in the amino acid, tryptophan, a precursor of dopamine and other neurotransmitters that enhance restful sleep and relaxation at night.
Controlling Blood Sugar
People who consume diets that have high amounts of nuts and seeds have lower chances of having diabetes. Sunflower seeds are bursting with fiber, and this indicates that they decelerate the absorption of sugar into the blood. These seeds contain magnesium too, and this mineral helps to improve insulin sensitivity. This combination results in improved blood glucose control. Isn`t this just lovely?
Enhancing Healthy Detoxification
Selenium is a mineral that enhances the removal of waste material from the body, and it plays an essential role in a number of other biological processes. Selenium is essential in the maintenance of the body’s most powerful natural anti-oxidant, glutathione. Selenium also stimulates the repair of damaged cells.
Supporting Skin Health
Sunflower seeds provide Vitamin E, a vitamin which plays a crucial role in skin health and maintenance. Vitamin E reduces oxidative damage to skin cells caused by UV rays, helps to reflect some of them, and makes the skin look beautiful. Little wonder vitamin E is widely used in the cosmetic industry.
An Excellent Source of Protein
Sunflower seeds contain 40% of your recommended daily intake in a single 100g serving. Tell me that isn`t amazing. Protein is quite essential for good health, as it repairs cells, and the regeneration of cells depends on it.
Wherever you find potassium, magnesium, and calcium altogether, rest assured, as there`s regulation of blood pressure there. Potassium balances sodium, and functions as a vasodilator. Magnesium regulates the calcium channels, while calcium is necessary for regulating the channels and ensuring they open and close as needed, and this equates to improved blood vessel flexibility.
Promoting Hair Growth and Luster
Vitamin E ensures the hair looks youthful and sharp. Sunflower seeds have got vitamin E. These seeds also promote blood flow to the scalp to stimulate the growth of new hair, thanks to potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which stimulate the production of new blood cells.
Enhancing Weight Loss
Sunflower seeds contain fiber and the B vitamins. Fiber adds bulk in the stomach, helping to decelerate glucose absorption and keeping the stomach full for a longer time. B vitamins secure the breakdown of macronutrients. These enhance weight loss help keep energy levels high while calories are restricted.
Selenium is a component of sunflower seeds, and it is essential in detoxification. This reduces the impact of oxidative stress. What else? Fiber accelerates the removal of waste material in the colon so that they spend less time there. This is important because they cause unfavorable changes there.
Are there Side Effects?
Excess Saturated Fat Intake
Sunflower seeds are a rich source of the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are beneficial to the heart, however, they are also a source of saturated fatty acids, which excess consumption of them may lead to increased levels of unhealthy low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol. It is recommended that saturated fat is consumed moderately, to avoid health challenges. A serving of toasted sunflower kernels contains 1.7 grams of saturated fats. In the long run, this isn`t healthy. Eat these seeds in moderation.
Moderation is key, as we all know. Weight gain is the result of eating more calories than the body burns. These unused calories are stored as fat. Did you know that a 1-ounce serving of toasted sunflower seed kernels provides 175 calories? Now, this can be an issue if consumed excessively. A moderate consumption of sunflower seeds is highly important.
A Potential Sodium Trap
Some kinds of sunflower seeds are salted during processing. Note that an ounce of toasted, salted sunflower seed kernels provides 174 milligrams of sodium. Consuming less 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day is the healthy way. It helps prevent high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. In essence, one ounce of salted sunflower seeds provides 12 percent of the daily limit. This is not a bad idea until these seeds are overeaten, and sodium is derived from other foods.
Sunflower seeds are high in several other nutrients and excessive intakes of these nutrients isn`t healthy. Did you know that five ounces of sunflower seeds contain 1,621 milligrams of phosphorous? Perhaps you didn`t know that this is 232 percent of the recommended daily intake. Surprised, right? Well, that is not all. Five ounces of sunflower seeds also provide 111 micrograms of selenium, which is 202 percent of the daily recommended intake. Excess intake of either of these nutrients can cause severe problems. Phosphorous toxicity can lead to calcification of non-skeletal tissues and kidney damage, and selenium toxicity can bring about symptoms of selenosis, including skin rashes, brittle hair, and nails, fatigue and irritability. It can cause death eventually.
- Sunflower is the only flower with “flower” in its name.
- Sunflowers are the symbol of faith, loyalty, and adoration.
- This flower follows the movement of the sun across the sky from east to west.
- Sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine and is the state flower of Kansas.
- Sunflowers are one of the fastest growing plants, and they grow tall. On an average, they grow up to 8-12 feet within six months.
- Grown by Emily Martin in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada in 1983, sunflower with the largest flower head was 32 ¼ inches in diameter when measured from the outer tip of the petal on one side to the outer tip of the petal on the opposite side.
- Sunflower oil softens leather, conditions hair, wounds, and can be used to cook. It is also an animal feed and bio-diesel.
- Sunflower oil is rich in minerals such as calcium and iron. It also contains vitamin D.
What are you waiting for? Share the good news about this amazing plant. Do use it also.