Top 6 Powerful Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

Top 6 Powerful Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 20 Feb 2016 - 10:22

sunflower-seeds

Are you looking for a healthy snack? Enjoy a handful of mild nutty tasting sunflower seeds that is packed with essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Sunflower seeds is not only a snack to nibble on, but also used in various cuisines. The flower produces greyish-green or black seeds. Sunflower, botanically known as Helianthus Annus is a tall, herbaceous annual plant that belongs to the family of Asteraceae. They are one of the main sources of polyunsaturated fat due to its high oil content.

Amazing health benefits of sunflower seeds:

  • Lowers Cholesterol:  Sunflower seeds have been scientifically considered as a top snack for reducing cholesterol levels due to its high content of Phytosterol compound. This compound has a chemical structure very similar to cholesterol. When sunflower seeds are consumed in sufficient quantity, it helps reduce blood levels of cholesterol and increases the immune response. Experts at McGill University concentrated on patients with type2 diabetes and discovered that plant sterols had a considerably more profound effect on the cholesterol levels of type 2 diabetes patients as compared to high cholesterol patients free from diabetes. LDL levels were reduced while the desirable HDL was relatively untouched. Researchers have found that sunflower kernels contain the highest levels of phystosterol among all the nuts and seeds. The research appears in the issue of the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
     
  • Prevents Cancer: Sunflower seeds are a rich source of selenium that has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells and inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells. Sunflower seeds also have a high content of copper and vitamin E which have antioxidant effects that prevent cellular damage often leading to cancer. Sunflower seeds also contain compounds like phystosterol and lignans that helps reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. These naturally occurring compounds can suppress the growth of cancer cells and hence prevent colon, prostate and breast cancer. Studies have shown that the nutrients found in sunflower seeds have chemo-preventive compounds that stall the initial phases of cancer development to help shut off tumor growth.
     
  • Cardiovascular Health: Sunflower seeds have two essential nutrients that promote cardiovascular health: folate and vitamin E. Being an antioxidant, vitamin E forbids free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol. On oxidation, cholesterol adheres to the blood vessel walls and causes atherosclerosis, ultimately leading to blocked arteries, heart attack or stroke. Just a quarter cup of sunflower seeds provides over 90% of the daily value of vitamin E. Folate has been shown to promote cardiovascular health from birth to old age. It metabolizes homocysteine, an indicator of cardiovascular problems, into methionine, an essential amino acid. Researchers have indicated that high levels of inflammation are related with an increased risk for heart disease. Consuming sunflowers seeds frequently have been shown to help balance cholesterol levels, to reduce hypertension and to protect against heart disease. A latest study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, showed that the amount of phytosterols present in nuts and seeds was highest in sunflower seeds as compared to other types. 
     
  • Supports thyroid function:  One out of 10 adults experiences hypothyroidism (a common form of thyroid disorder) in India. One of the leading causes of thyroid disorders, (hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism), is due to deficiency of the mineral, selenium. One of the keys to control thyroid disorders naturally- without drugs, is to ingest more selenium and iodine in your diet,  which can be best found in sunflower seeds.
     
  • Manages blood sugar levels:  A diet rich in sunflower seeds has been shown to reduce hyperglycemia and balance blood sugar levels. This reduces the risk of developing metabolic syndrome including diabetes or insulin resistance. Compounds found in sunflower seeds help to fights diseases related to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Unbalanced blood sugar levels and insulin resistance lead to further inflammation, weight gain, and even autoimmune responses. Many individuals experience spikes and dips of blood sugar due to intake of sugary foods and beverages, refined grains and processed foods. Sunflower seeds help to stop the spikes and dips of blood sugar. Studies have shown that magnesium found in sunflower seeds have a protective effect against development of type 2diabetes.
     
  • Improves skin health: Numerous studies have shown that antioxidant Vitamin E is very useful for maintaining strong and healthy skin. Sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E and essential fatty acid lipids that help keep skin hydrated and free from sun and pollution damage. Studies have shown that both sunflower seeds as well as flax seeds are able to keep animal coats and skin healthy and free from signs of damage even as the animals age, similarly observed in humans as well.

Nutritional facts of sunflower seeds: 1/4th cup serving of sunflower seeds provides:

  • 16 grams of fat
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 190 calories
  • 70% DV of copper
  • 82% of vitamin E
  • 34% each of manganese and selenium
  • 43 % of vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 33% of phosphorous
  • 28% each of magnesium and vitamin B6
  • 20% and 18% respectively of folate and vitamin B3

Interesting ways to incorporate Sunflower Seeds in your diet:

  • Use sunflower seed butter in a homemade sauce or oatmeal or add a tablespoon to your healthy smoothie recipes
  • Incorporate seeds to homemade meatballs or veggie burgers
  • Toss some seeds on to a salad or add them to tuna
  • You can even add them to any of the baked foods like breads or grain-free muffins
  • Substitute any other nut butter with  sunflower butter and use sunflower seeds instead of chia or flaxseeds.

 

Reference:

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=57
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-sun...

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