When I was a little girl, I loved to chew on salted, roasted sunflower seeds. In fact, I would chew the whole thing, seeds and shells. Yes, I would choke every so often before I realized it is much easier to chew just the seed without the shell, even though it took a little longer having to first remove the shell. When I had children of my own, I found it amusing to watch my son also chew the whole thing, seed and all. I am sure we received some good roughage through it all! There are some really great benefits you can receive from the humble sunflower seed as its nutrient content is tremendous. The George Mateljan Organization, a not-for-profit foundation, published the following health information on this little seed:
Looking for a health-promoting snack? A handful of sunflower seeds will take care of your hunger, while also enhancing your health by supplying significant amounts of vitamin E, magnesium and selenium.
Anti-Inflammatory and Cardiovascular Benefits from Sunflower Seeds’ Vitamin E
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules, such as cell membranes, brain cells, and cholesterol. By protecting these cellular and molecular components, vitamin E has significant anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a big role. Vitamin E has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, help decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women going through menopause, and help reduce the development of diabetic complications. …
Sunflower Seeds’ Phyto-sterols Lower Cholesterol
Phytosterols are compounds found in plants that have a chemical structure very similar to cholesterol, and when present in the diet in sufficient amounts, are believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response and decrease risk of certain cancers.
Phytosterols’ beneficial effects are so dramatic that they have been extracted from soybean, corn, and pine tree oil and added to processed foods, such as “butter”-replacement spreads, which are then touted as cholesterol-lowering “foods.” But why settle for an imitation “butter” when Mother Nature’s nuts and seeds are a naturally rich source of phytosterols—and cardio-protective fiber, minerals and healthy fats as well?
In a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers published the amounts of phytosterols present in nuts and seeds commonly eaten in the United States.
Sesame seeds had the highest total phytosterol content (400-413 mg per 100 grams), and English walnuts and Brazil nuts the lowest (113 mg/100grams and 95 mg/100 grams). (100 grams is equivalent to 3.5 ounces.) Of the nuts and seeds typically consumed as snack foods, sunflower seeds and pistachios were richest in phytosterols (270-289 mg/100 g), followed by pumpkin seeds (265 mg/100 g).
Calm Your Nerves, Muscles and Blood Vessels with Sunflower Seeds’ Magnesium
Sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium. Numerous studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Magnesium is also necessary for healthy bones and energy production. About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our bones. Some helps to give bones their physical structure, while the rest is found on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to draw upon as needed.
Magnesium counterbalances calcium, thus helping to regulate nerve and muscle tone. In many nerve cells, magnesium serves as nature’s own calcium channel blocker, preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and activating the nerve. By blocking calcium’s entry, magnesium keeps our nerves (and the blood vessels and muscles they enervate) relaxed. If our diet provides us with too little magnesium, however, calcium can gain free entry, and the nerve cell can become over-activated, sending too many messages and causing excessive contraction. Insufficient magnesium can thus contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms (including spasms of the heart muscle or the spasms of the airways, symptomatic of asthma), and migraine headaches, as well as muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue.
Improved Detoxification and Cancer Prevention from Sunflower Seeds’ Selenium
Sunflower seeds are also a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that is of fundamental importance to human health. Accumulated evidence from prospective studies, intervention trials and studies on animal models of cancer has suggested a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence. Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, and to induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells. …
Its selenium richness is another reason that sunflower seeds can make a good snack.
These good tasting, crunchy seeds are good for your body. There are many ways you can use the sunflower seed. One way would be to sprout the raw seed and increase its vitamin/mineral values. Just soak the seeds in a jar overnight or for about 8 hours. Cover the jar with a sprouting lid or piece of nylon so the water can easily be drained. Turn the jar on its side with a slant so any leftover moisture can drain. Rinse and drain a couple of times each day. After two days, you should see little sprouts appear. A good length to let them grow before eating is about ¼ to ½ inch so they do not become bitter. The sprouts can be eaten in salads, blended with your vegetable smoothies, or simply add chopped olives and your favorite salad dressing for a side dish or healthy snack and enjoy!
These seeds are God’s gift to you. They are a product straight from the beautiful sunflower which has bathed in the sunlight and absorbed all of its health promoting properties. Enjoy the health benefits from these simple little seeds.