Amazing Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
The Sunflower plant, scientifically known as Helianthus annuus, to be precise, we will talk about the amazing health benefits of sunflower seeds.
I’m pretty sure, all of you have seen the bright yellow flower of the sunflower plant.
It’s impossible to miss. The seeds are harvested from the head of the sunflower plant. The flower head measures up to 12 inches in diameter and one flowering head might contain up to 2,000 seeds. Sunflower seeds are white but have a tough outer shell. The shell is black and white with a striped appearance. In many parts of the world, including my own which is India, Humans have been consuming sunflower seeds since the time immemorial in many forms.
- Raw seeds are eaten a portable and easy snack
- Roasted seeds are sprinkled on top of cereals, cooked vegetables, or salads
- SF seeds can also be added to breads or muffins
- Oil and butter are obviously the most common use of sunflower seeds worldwide.
Health benefits of consuming sunflower seeds.
No.1 – sunflower seeds are densely packed with nutrients
- Sunflower seeds are a wholesome food.
This is because they are packed with a good amount of healthy nutrients in sufficient quantities.
- Take for example, just about 100 gms of sunflower seeds contains 585 calories of energy – mind you, these are pure, complex carbohydrates which are considered as good calories. They also contain about 8.5 grams of fiber. So just a wrist full of sunflower seeds can meet the fiber demand of your body. They contain about 51.5 gms of essential fats and these are mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which are k/a good fats. These help in lowering your blood cholesterol levels and improve your cardiovascular health.
- 100 gms of sunflower seeds contain about 20 gms of proteins and they are also full of micronutrients such as Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Folate, Choline, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin E.
- SF seeds also Contains minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. This information should be enough to motivate you to start adding sunflower seeds to your diet.
No.2 – Benefits of Sunflower Seeds for your Heart
Sunflower seeds are rich in fats. Now the word fats, makes people think about unhealthy stuff. But Sunflower seeds are rich in ‘healthy’ fats, including polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Especially a compound known as linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is important, because it a compound that relaxes blood vessels in your body and also lowers the cholesterol. This was clinically proven by a study at Harvard university. In 2014 a paper was published – titled ‘Consumption of Plant Seeds and Cardiovascular Health: Epidemiologic and Clinical Trial Evidence’ They summarized that There is substantial evidence that increased seed consumption—sunflower seeds included, is associated with lower risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. They meant that there is significant reduction in risk factors of heart disease such as serum cholesterol levels or high blood pressure which is attributable to various components of the sunflower seed. Such as.
- Niacin or vitamin B3 which is present in sunflower seeds. It is an essential component of the cholesterol pathways and it acts to reduce total cholesterol levels.
- Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid in sunflower seeds increases HDL cholesterol which is the healthy cholesterol required by the body.
- Fiber – it decreases the total fat absorption.
- Magnesium – Magnesium is essential for blood vessels to relax and eventually decreases the blood pressure levels.
- Cynarin – it is an alkaloid found in sunflower seeds and it can lower triglycerides and cholesterol, an effect that may potentially benefit people with hyperglycemia or hyperlipidemia. Now this combined glucose and cholesterol lowering effect of sunflower seeds is especially important in people with Diabetes. Some research like a 2012 study on elderly women with Type 2 Diabetes mellitus suggests that people who eat sunflower seeds daily find their fasting blood sugar reducing by up to 10%. But More research involving a wider age group and better-defined criteria are needed before sunflower seeds can be advocated as a sugar lowering agent.
No.3 – sunflower seeds can boost your Immunity
Sunflower seeds are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. The most important of these for our immunity are Vitamin E, Zinc and Selenium. Vitamin E is crucial to immune function and helps to protect us against various illnesses. It is also a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage by free radicals. Zinc is a key component of the immune system and can help with developing and maintaining cells. It also has the ability to kill off oxidants in order to keep everything running smoothly. Selenium also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and infection fighter. It also boosts the immune system to produce a proper response to any bugs. This mineral is also postulated to be a critical part of brain health – and is linked to the prevention of various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Talking about brain health – sunflower seeds can Boost your Brain function too! Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin B6 also known as Pyridoxine. This essential nutrient is important for synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain. Usually, the imbalance of neurotransmitters can lead to various mental effects. So, consumption of sunflower seeds can restore the optimum balance. This helps to improve mood, concentration and memory. Sunflower seeds also help with symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) such as irritability and depression.
No.4 – Benefits Of sunflower seeds For inflammation
In our previous videos, we regularly talk about the term inflammation. To clear a misconception. Inflammation itself isn’t bad. It is a natural process our body initiates in response to injury or stress that occurs either externally or internally. While in acute situations, inflammation is important for the body to control the extent of damage and start the process of healing and recovery. It is the chronic inflammation that is proven to be harmful for us and chronic inflammation is a risk factor for many chronic diseases. One-way researchers and doctors quantify inflammation is by calculating the levels of a protein in our body known as C- Reactive protein, in short CRP. Increased C-reactive protein levels in your body are signal for higher risk of inflammation which is directly linked to heart disease and diabetes. A 2006 research, titled ‘Nut and seed consumption and inflammatory markers’ attempted to find a relation between consumption of seed and nuts – including sunflower seeds, and makers of inflammation such as levels of CRP, Interleukin 6 and fibrinogen. They found that frequent nut and seed consumption including sunflower seed was associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers including CRP. This also explained the association of nut consumption with lowered risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
No.5 – Benefits of Sunflower seeds for pregnant females
Sunflower seeds contain Zinc, Folate, and Vitamin E. These are all important nutrients for a fetus to grow. So, if you are trying to have a baby, or you are pregnant, or you are just someone following a healthy diet, sunflower seeds have something for everyone. Folate is a micronutrient with a very important role in a developing baby. Adequate folate levels are required for the placenta to grow and remain healthy. Also, folate is important for the baby’s brain and nervous system to grow to its full potential. Folate deficiency has been linked terrible outcomes such as spina bifid.
- ZINC – is important for the baby’s pancreas to produce insulin and other vital enzymes.
- Vitamin E – is essential for the fetus. It helps the muscles grow and also supports the red blood cells which do all the hard work of transporting vital oxygen to each and every part of the developing fetus. But wait – there’s another benefit of Sunflower seeds. The Healthy fatty acid, the Zinc and the Vitamin E – gives you Healthier Skin Our skin is the first line of defense against lethal diseases. It suffers from various external destructive forces and regenerates it self to keep the barrier strong. The essential fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic acid found in the sunflower seeds help prevent skin diseases. These compounds also help with wound healing and preventing scarring, so if you want a glowing complexion, give them a try. Antibacterial and antifungal properties of sunflower seeds also prevent infections, thus keeping our skin clear. Additionally, zinc and vitamin E protect the skin against UV damage and accelerate skin regeneration. Before I go, there are some facts you should be careful of. Here are some potential Side effects of Sunflower Seeds
- Eating too many sunflower seeds can make you vomit, cause stomach ache and lead to constipation. Do not consumer more than recommended.
- If you’re allergic to some seeds, eating sunflower seeds can cause vomiting, rashes on the skin, breathing problems like wheezing or struggling to breathe (due-to airway swelling), itching around the mouth or swollen lips.
- Sunflower seeds are high in calories. Eating too many can lead to weight gain.
- Sunflower seeds contain traces of cadmium, which are not good for our kidneys.
- Also – Contaminated sprouted seeds can lead to bacterial infections of the gut. As always, it’s important to wash your hands before eating them.There are Lot More Benefits of Sunflower Seeds.
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