Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds: The benefits of sunflower seeds are making them a healthy snack option. Sunflower, which follows the sun’s movement (also called heliotropism), is aesthetic and offers many health benefits, especially its seeds.
The use of sunflower oil in food has been followed for ages. The seeds are milled to get the oil. But do you know you can directly munch on sunflower seeds as well? Yes. Research has stated that these seeds are rich in vitamin E. The best part is they have zero cholesterol.
The American Indian tribes used to mix grounded sunflower seeds into flour for cakes or bread. They also cracked the seeds to eat as a snack.
The gorgeous, bright, and summery sunflowers (Helianthus annuus and other species) are the origin of sunflower seeds. They are popular among the avian (birds and air-borne animals) community and are gaining popularity with health freaks too.
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, The back of the heads of mature sunflowers turn dry and brown, and the yellow petals wither and fall off. This is when the seeds become plump, which is the best time to harvest them.
Sunflower seeds are quite versatile. You can eat them raw and whole. The kernels can be eaten raw after hulling the outer shells. You can also roast and have them salted or plain. Hulled, raw, or roasted sunflower seeds are commonly used in baking too.
Sunflower seeds are reservoirs of essential fats, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron, folate, and vitamins A, E, and B. That is why they are used in cooking.
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, The best thing about sunflower seeds? They have no cholesterol! They contain several critical precursors (phytosterols) for the production of hormones in your body.
No wonder sunflower seeds are touted to be an ideal keto-friendly snack! Eating them in fixed amounts can benefit your health in many ways. Check out the next section to find out more.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds?
Thanks to their nutritional value, sunflower seeds offer a range of health benefits. They may aid healthy weight loss and maintain hormonal balance in women and men. These seeds can also protect you from cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorder.
1. Lowers Blood Cholesterol Levels
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, Sunflower seeds can influence the metabolism and accumulation process as they are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Saturated fats are found in butter, margarine, lard, and shortening. When you replace saturated fats with unsaturated ones, your cholesterol levels may fall.
Sunflower seeds may lower bad cholesterol (LDL) in serum. You also feel a sense of satiety when you eat them. This is because they are high in calories. Eating sunflower seeds can fill you up, so you don’t binge on high-cholesterol foods. Also, a drop in cholesterol levels is good news for your heart!
2. Maintains Cardiovascular Health
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, Sunflower seeds may help in controlling your blood cholesterol levels. Low cholesterol level means a low risk of atherosclerosis and other heart diseases. Sunflower seeds also exhibit anti-hypertensive effects.
These seeds contain specific proteins, vitamin E, and phytochemicals like helianthin that scavenge free radicals in your blood. The proteins found in them (like pepsin and pancreatin) also block angiotensin-I converting enzyme (ACE). This is a vasoconstrictor, which means it narrows the blood vessels, thus increasing blood pressure.
Consuming foods that have ACE-inhibitors can be beneficial in heart conditions like hypertension, ischemic attacks, and arrhythmia.
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, Sunflower and its oil and seeds are known for their anti-inflammatory effects as they contain active tocopherols (vitamin E), linoleic acid, linolenic acid, triterpenes, and miscellaneous polyphenolic compounds.
The flower, seeds, and seed oil may have a positive effect on inflammatory disorders as well. These include diabetes, arthritis, memory loss, gout, and cirrhosis. sugar levels can trigger inflammation. Fortunately, sunflower seeds have plenty of dietary fiber that slows down the nutrient absorption from food and prevents sugar spikes after a meal.
4. Good Snack For Those With Diabetes
Many healthcare providers suggest that diabetes can be controlled by eating the right foods. Eating high sugar, high-carb foods can cause undesirable sugar spikes in your blood. This worsens the condition if you are already dealing with diabetes.
Snacking on low cholesterol and low GI foods like sunflower seeds can help you manage your diabetes. Sunflower seeds have a low glycemic index of about 20. Eating them and pumpkin seeds can prevent your blood sugar levels from shooting up (hyperglycemia).
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, The unsaturated fatty acids and polyphenolic compounds in sunflower seeds also have anti-diabetic effects. By controlling your sugar levels, you indirectly protect your liver, pancreas, and other vital organs as well.
5. Eases Constipation and Diarrhea
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, High fiber foods like sunflower seeds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, soy nuts, and other nuts/seeds work as laxatives to help ease constipation.
You can eat them by themselves or add them to smoothies, breakfast cereals, or yogurt. But, make sure you take just 20-35 g of these nuts and seeds per day. Too much or too less of fiber in the form of these seeds could worsen constipation or diarrhea.
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, The anti-inflammatory property of sunflower seeds can relieve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). But, be mindful of drinking water along with them. Without water, the seed fiber can do more harm than good.
6. Regulates Estrogen Imbalances
Sunflower seeds are one of the richest sources of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant-based metabolites. These phytochemicals are structurally and functionally similar to hormones, especially estrogen and testosterone.
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, Studies reveal that phytoestrogens, lignans, and isoflavones have several beneficial properties that can help prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer, osteoporosis, and various postmenopausal disorders.
These plant precursors also bind to estrogen receptors in your body and may positively affect the functioning of the brain, bone, liver, heart, and reproduction.
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, But, this property of phytoestrogens is highly debated and not a lot of researchers endorse these positive effects.
7. Might Possess Antimicrobial Property
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, Researchers claim that sunflower seed extract demonstrates antibacterial and antifungal properties.
These seeds can inhibit the growth of certain species of bacteria, like Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, and Vibrio cholera. When it comes to fungi, these seeds might inhibit Aspergillus fumigates, Rhizopus stolonifer, Candida albicans, and Fusarium oxysporum.
The tannins, alkaloids, and saponins in sunflower seeds interfere with the cell cycle and protein synthesis, thus killing the bacterial and fungal pathogens.
Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds, Barring a few hiccups (which we will discuss later), sunflower seeds are a filling, healthy, and tasty snack. These seeds can be eaten by young and old, whether you have diabetes or are battling cancer.