Did you know that munching on some sunflower seeds can offer incredible health benefits? Sunflower seeds are actually considered good for health because of its nutritional value. Find out how here.
These sweet and nutty sunflower seeds are increasingly gaining popularity as snacks as they are so filling. Their mild nutty taste makes them a filling as well as nutritious food. These seeds are highly nutritious comprising of calories, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Sunflower seeds are obtained from the big round center of the sunflower which turns throughout the day to follow the course of the sun. This bright yellow center of the sunflower produces grayish green or black seeds encased in tear-dropped shaped grey or black shells often having black and white stripes. They are generally three types of sunflower seeds namely linoleic, highly oleic and NuSun. These have been categorized on the basis of their levels of monounsaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Sunflower Seeds: Health Benefits
1. Cardiovascular Health:
Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin C, which helps in preventing cardiovascular disease. Being an antioxidant, vitamin E prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol. On oxidation, cholesterol sticks to the blood vessel walls and causes atherosclerosis, leading to blocked arteries, heart attack or stroke. A quarter cup of sunflower seeds provides over ninety percent of the daily value of vitamin E.
2. Lowers Cholesterol:
Sunflowers seeds have been ranked at the top of the nuts and seeds list for their high content of phytosterols or cholesterol lowering compounds. These seeds are loaded with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are good fats that lower bad cholesterol. Besides, they are rich in fiber that contributes to lowering cholesterol in some people.
3. Supports Digestion:
Due to their high content of dietary fiber, raw seeds of sunflower can aid in digesting food and even cure constipation.
4. Prevents Cancer:
Sunflower seeds have a high content of vitamin E, selenium and copper which have antioxidant properties. As per research, these antioxidants prevent cellular damage that often leads to cancer. These nutrients prevent cancer by reducing and suppressing cellular damage from oxidants and protecting tissue from oxidant free radical damage. Sunflower seeds cam reduce the risk of certain types of cancer due to their high phytosterol content. They also contain a compound called lignans, which also protects against certain types of cancer. These naturally occurring compounds can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, thus preventing colon, prostate and breast cancer.
5. Bone Health:
Sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium which is also necessary for strong bones besides calcium. Most of the magnesium in the body is present in our bones and helps lend bones their physical structure while the rest is located on the surface of the bones where it is stored for the body to be used according to requirement. These seeds also contain copper which is vital for the function of enzymes involved in cross linking collagen and elastin, thus providing strength and flexibility in bones and joints. Vitamin E is effective in reducing arthritis symptoms due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Beneficial for the Nerves:
Magnesium in sunflower seeds keeps our nerves relaxed by preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cells and activating them, thereby relaxing our blood vessels and muscles too. Too little magnesium results in too much calcium gaining entrance to the nerve cells, causing it to send too many messages and leading to too much contraction.
7. Mental Health:
Sunflower seeds have a positive effect on your mood by lessening the chances of depression. They contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps produce serotonin, an important neurotransmitter. When serotonin is released in our bodies, it relieves tension, calms the brain and promotes relaxation. Choline, a compound found in sunflower seeds helps in improving memory and cognitive function. Magnesium helps diminish the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure and prevents heart attack, soreness and fatigue. Sunflower seeds also have high amounts of potassium which helps to counterbalance the effect of sodium in your blood and lowers blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of developing hypertension.
8. Anti-inflammatory Properties:
Vitamin E in sunflower seeds is the body’s primary fat soluble antioxidant. This vitamin travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules like cell membranes, brain cells and cholesterol. Thus, vitamin E exhibits significant anti-inflammatory effects, resulting in the reduction of diseases caused by free radicals and inflammation such as asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
9. Source of Antioxidants:
Sunflower seeds are rich in antioxidants such as selenium and vitamin E. These antioxidants prevent or limit oxidative damage to your cells, thus protecting you from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
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