Native to the Americas, sunflowers are primarily cultivated for their use as a cooking fuel, extracted from its seeds. Sunflower seeds are also consumed raw or roasted, as snacks and used as flour in confectionary items or cereals. They are also used to make butter as an alternative to dairy and peanut butter. Below, we take a look at some of the health benefits of sunflower seeds.
Rich in essential nutrients
Sunflower seeds are a very good source of vitamins, particularly the B-complex group and vitamins C and E. They also contain a high percentage of essential minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and iron among others. Collectively, they help maintain our bones, tissues, vital organs and help our bodies heal, among other functions.
Good for the heart
A higher level of cholesterol, especially low-density lipoproteins (LDL), is bad for the heart as it gets deposited inside the arterial walls and may cause heart attack. Sunflower seeds contain a high percentage of linoleic acid, which helps reduce total cholesterol as well as LDL levels. The seeds also contain oleic acids that can reduce triglyceride, which causes similar cardiac issues.
Those suffering from diabetes are unable to produce enough insulin to bring glucose to cells. The blood sugar levels rise as a result and cause damage to blood vessels, vital organs and affect the heart, kidneys, nerves and vision. Sunflowers seeds not only have a low glycaemic index, but they contain chlorogenic acid which controls blood sugar levels.
Acute inflammation is a temporary, protective response to any injury or infection through swelling. Chronic inflammation, however, is a long-term condition that causes damage to the cells, tissues and vital organs like the heart. It can also cause DNA damage and cancers. Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E and phenolic compounds like flavonoids, both of which have antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation.
Studies conducted on male lambs have shown that sunflower seeds can help aid in healing wounds. Linoleic acid in the seeds help speed-up the healing process.