Sunflower plant is a tall herbaceous plant from the family of “Asteraceae”. Sunflower’s botanical name is “Helianthus Annuus”. Sunflower seeds roughly measure about 6 mm to 10 mm in length. The outer surface is black and contains an edible kernel inside. Sunflower seeds are delicious, crunchy and contain lots of energy i.e. 100 grams of seeds contains approximately 584 calories and about 27 grams of proteins (which is approximately 37% of a person’s daily requirement as recommended).
Sunflower seeds are extremely rich in vitamin E and contain 35.17 grams per 100 grams. Sunflower seeds also contain high amounts of essential minerals like vitamin B6, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus and magnesium. Sunflower seeds are an extremely rich source of folic acid and 100 grams of seeds contain 227 ug of folic acid which is 37% of average person’s daily intake as recommended.
Sunflower seeds should not be consumed by people suffering from kidney disorders as it may aggravate kidney and its related diseases. It is also not advisable to eat sunflower shells.
We generally believe that consuming fats is unhealthy and we should refrain from it, but conversely eating healthy fats helps in stabilizing weight and improves cardiovascular system. These sunflower seeds also contain high amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which helps in keeping general good health.
Benefit 1: Keeps heart healthy
Sunflower seeds are full of vitamin C which helps in controlling cholesterol levels. It also contains vitamin E also known as “gamma tocopherol” which is an antioxidant and which helps in non-oxidization of cholesterol, thus preventing its(cholesterol) deposition in arteries.
80% of a person’s daily needs of vitamin E are met just by ¼ cup of sunflower seeds. Thus, we find that consumption of sunflower seeds can become a powerful tool to control heart diseases.
Consumption of sunflower seeds also helps in reducing and controlling inflammation, which can correspondingly control medical conditions like high blood pressure levels, hypertension. Studies have shown that inflammation may lead to an adverse complication in our body and lead to heart diseases, strokes, cancer, diabetes and other diseases.
Benefit 2: Controlling thyroid
The thyroid gland is located in a person’s throat. Thyroid can be of two types: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, which is mainly caused by deficiency of iodine and selenium in a person’s diet. In hyperthyroidism, thyroid gland produces more quantity of hormones, conversely in hypothyroidism thyroid gland produces less required hormones.
The thyroid gland is responsible for controlling heart beat rate, controlling metabolism, controlling body temperature and production of protein in the body. Consumption of sunflower seeds helps in controlling thyroid as it contains large amounts of selenium. 34% daily requirement of selenium needed by a person is met by consuming just ¼ cup of sunflower seeds.
Benefit 3: Cancer prevention
Uncontrolled oxidation processes leads to cancer development in the body. Sunflower seeds possess large amounts of various nutrients which help in fighting cancer cells. Consumption of sunflower seeds in food helps in controlling oxidation. Moreover, researchers have found out that sunflower seeds contain compounds that prevent the growth of tumor in initial stages of cancer.
Sunflower seeds have large amounts of selenium present in them that helps in DNA repair and detoxing damaged cancer cells. Selenium has been found useful in curing breast cancer. Therefore, sunflower seeds helps in stopping the cancer growth and it might also help in stopping its re-occurrences.
Benefit 4: Helps in making the bones strong
Bones need proteins, magnesium and calcium to be strong and for increased mineral density, these nutrients are a must. Non-vegetarians get their protein requirements as meat, chicken and eggs contain large quantities of proteins.
For vegetarians however, there are very few foods which have large quantities of proteins which are essential for body and bones. Sunflower seeds are the best option for healthy bones for vegetarians, as it contains large amounts of proteins, magnesium and calcium. Lower bone density levels leads to osteoporosis and very weak bones. Sunflower seeds have magnesium that helps in increasing bone density levels and therefore reversing and preventing osteoporosis. Magnesium may help in curing migraine headaches and depression.
Sunflower seeds have B vitamins like vitamin B5 that also leads to increase in metabolism rate and decreasing fatigue felt by a person. Sunflower seeds might also help in prevention of muscle cramps in our body and therefore useful for athletes also.
Benefit 5: Eye care, immune and digestive system
Vitamin A is very important in improving eyesight and overall vision. Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin A and therefore, they can help in improving vision and eyesight. Vitamin A might also help in reducing chances of getting a cataract and ultimately, it leads to better eye health.
Zinc helps in curing any injuries and wounds in our body. Sunflower seeds contain high amounts of zinc and therefore are very helpful in reducing injuries and bodily wounds. It also enhances the sense of smell and taste which leads to better functioning of immune system.
Sunflower seeds possess high amounts of dietary fibers that increases the efficiency of digestive system and gastrointestinal system and leads to lesser chances of constipation or loose motions. Fiber is very essential for our stomach and intestines as it does not allow food to stick on the stomach and intestinal wall. As we know, smooth bowel movement is very important for our overall health and prevention of many body diseases. Risk of colon cancer also gets reduced considerably if we eat a lot of fibrous food and sunflower seeds.
Benefit 6: A cure for diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which a person has high blood sugar levels and it is caused because of pancreas not producing enough amounts of insulin. As we know, if natural insulin amount is less, it becomes difficult to manage the blood sugar levels. In other words, diabetes is insulin deficiency.
Sunflower seeds is a differentiated food product as it contains all major nutrients needed by the body. These nutrients help in balancing the blood sugar levels and further controls inflammation processes in the body, autoimmune diseases and weight gain. Sunflower seeds also contain magnesium. Research has shown that magnesium is a reasonable cure for type II diabetes.
Thus, we can see that consumption of sunflower seeds helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels and controlling diabetes, thereby preventing lot of complications. Consumption of sunflower seeds can also reduce frequency of hot flashes in women passing through the stage of menopause.
Benefit 7: Healthy skin
Vitamin E is a requisite vitamin to maintain our skin health and helps in keeping it hydrated. Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E that helps in protection of skin and also keeps the skin hydrated. Vitamin E is necessary to keep skin strong and beautiful and since sunflower seeds have vitamin E, they help in keeping skin supple and radiating. It maintains the quality of skin and also helps in improving the quality of skin. Vitamin E leads to reduced wrinkles and helps in retaining the original charm of skin. It also reduces scars from the face and other parts of the body and helps our skin to face environmental damage.
A pigment called melanin is contained in copper which is responsible for giving skin a radiant and a glowing color. Sunflower seeds have large amounts of copper that helps in maintaining the shine on skin.
Skin is damaged extensively by the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Sunflower seeds because they contain copper prevent this harm from the ultraviolet rays to the skin.
Sunflower seeds contain different fatty acids like linoleic, palmitic, oleic and stearic acids that smoothen and soften skin cells. Pimple scars or acne can be reduced to a greater extent as fatty acids prevent the growth of bacteria that considerably helps in reducing acne scars.
Sunflower seeds can further help in strengthening of skin cells of infants which protects them from skin infections and diseases. It can also act as a deep moisturizer for skin which moisturizes all the layers of skin and gives a glowing effect to the skin. Thus sunflower seeds can provide a barrier to skin problems, diseases and infections and can be used for cosmetic purpose to improve our overall skin health.
Benefit 8: Hair care
Minerals like vitamin E, B vitamins, selenium and proteins are needed by our hair. Sunflower seeds contain all these nutrients and oil produced from sunflower seeds contain all the requisite nutrients for hair growth, shine and glow. Hair growth can be increased by consuming balanced amounts of zinc. Overconsumption of zinc might lead to hair loss and further hair problems, but a balanced zinc diet will lead to hair growth and better hair maintenance.
For blood circulation in the scalp, vitamin E is useful. Melanin contained in copper gives hair its natural color which is supported by sunflower seeds. This leads to a delayed graying of hair and we can retain the original color of hair without using dyes and pigments. Vitamin B6, also known as pyriodoxine, helps in maintaining zinc levels and makes hair strong also, which leads to lesser hair loss. Vitamin B6 also helps in circulating oxygen in the scalp.
Sunflower seeds is a good conditioner for hair and it moisturizes hair up to its roots as it contains omega-6 fatty acids which also strengthens hair, improves its quality, increases hair growth and lessens hair loss. Thus, regular consumption of sunflower seeds and application of sunflower oil on hair and scalp can give beautiful and shining hair.
Benefit 9: Better mental health
We know that depression, stress and mental trauma is caused due to lack of a neurotransmitter called “serotonin” in human brain. Sunflower seeds contain amino acids also known as tryptophan, that helps us to be relieved from stress, tension, depression and anxiety. It releases neurotransmitter serotonin as mentioned earlier, which helps in reducing mood swings. Thus, sunflower seeds can be consumed daily and it works as an anti-depressant and helps lift a person’s mood.
Sunflower seeds is a diet food and it contains fiber also which helps in reducing weight. Sunflower seeds has a delicious nutty flavor which is universally liked by children as well as adults and can be therefore used as main food and supplementary food for children also. So many flavorful diet food items can be prepared which are enjoyed by everyone and they also enable us to lose oodles of weight.
Sunflower seeds are known to soothe nerves and calm a person. They can also help in mitigating and reducing and controlling attacks of migraine. Sunflower seeds are known to contain magnesium which helps in counter balancing calcium in human body and thus regulating nerves and muscle tone.
Deficiency in human body of magnesium causes nerve cells to become hyperactive and they tend to send too many messages, which causes contraction. The magnesium contained in sunflower seeds stops and prevents to a certain extent calcium in body from rushing into human nerve cells and activating them. This property of sunflower seeds helps to keep nerves and human nervous system relaxed.