Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
About Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seed is an achene which is a type of simple fruit that contains one seed. So, sunflower seed is actually a fruit of the sunflower, Helianthus annus.
Sunflower seeds are named after the patterns on their husks.
- The full black husked seed is called black oil sunflower seed and is used for extracting edible, sunflower oil.
- The striped sunflower seed is called confectionery sunflower seed or chocolate covered sunflower seed and is mainly used as food.
Sweet and nutty sunflower seeds are very popular as a healthy snack food. They are also used in garnishes, salads and can also be sprouted before consuming. They are available with and without the hulls. Sunflower seeds can be eaten roasted and are also sold as feed for pet and wild birds.
The seeds are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids particularly linoleic acid which constitutes about 68% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Sunflower seeds are low in saturated fats like stearic and palmitic acids.
Sunflower seed butter is a spread similar to peanut butter that is made by grinding the sunflower seeds in a blender to form a paste. It is an option for those who are allergic to nuts and therefore cannot consume peanut and peanut butter.
Nutrition Facts - Sunflower Seeds
Consuming a handful of seeds is a good way to not only ward off hunger but also get excellent amounts of several vitamins and minerals. They are excellent as a healthy snack option.
- Sunflower seeds good amounts of linoleic acid, the polyunsaturated fatty acid and good amounts of oleic acid, the monounsaturated fatty acid, and dietary fibre.
- They are an excellent source of vitamin E providing about 234% of the daily requirement in 100 gms
- They are high in energy with 100 gms of seeds providing 584 calories or about 20% of the daily requirement.
- Sunflower seeds also are high in protein with 100 gms providing 37% of the daily value.
- They have a low Glycemic index and are rich in the amino acid tryptophan.
- Sunflower seeds are a rich source of polyphenols like chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and quinic acid, the natural antioxidants.
- They also contain incredible amounts of folic acid about 57% of the daily requirement.
Dried Sunflower Ready For Seed Harvesting
Nutrition Facts - Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds (Helianthus annuus), kernels, dried
Nutritional value per 100 gms
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Percentage of RDA
227 micro gm
53 micro gm
Beta - Carotene
30 micro gm
Beta - Crypto-xanthin
Sunflower Seeds Health Benefits
To derive the maximum health benefits from sunflower seeds do not overindulge in them as they are high in energy and fats. Also, consume unflavored/unsalted sunflower seeds.
Sunflower seeds are functional foods meaning they protect the body against disease and are not just a source of nutritional value.
Some of the nutrients that contribute to sunflower seeds' health benefits are as under.
The fibre content in sunflower seeds not only lowers cholesterol but also keeps the blood glucose levels under check. It also ensures digestive health and prevents issues like constipation, piles, haemorrhoids etc.
- Vitamin E
The excellent levels of this vitamin make it very effective at neutralizing the free radicals that when left unchecked can wreak havoc in the body. It prevents the cholesterol from getting oxidized, the cell membranes from getting damaged and has strong anti-inflammatory benefits.
All this in effect results in a reduction of asthmatic symptoms, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. vitamin E also reduces the risk of cancer especially colon cancer, reduces hot flushes during menopause. It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease since it prevents atherosclerosis or plaque formation and thereby lowers the risk of a heart attack.
Vitamin E keeps the skin healthy by protecting it against the harmful effects of UV radiation.
Sunflower seeds have good amounts of phytosterols, about 270-289 mg/100 grams of seeds. Phytosterols are plant sterols that when present in diet serve to lower the blood cholesterol, raise the immunity levels and decrease the risk to a variety of cancers.
Chlorogenic acid reduces the breakdown of glycogen in the liver and therefore reduces blood sugar levels.
Magnesium levels are quite good in sunflower seeds with 1/4 cup providing about 28% of the daily requirements. This lowers the blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, reduces asthma as well as preventing migraine.
It keeps the bones strong and helps in maintaining the calmness and proper working of the nerves, blood vessels and muscles and maintains their strength and fitness.
It also prevents muscle soreness, cramps and fatigue.
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds provides about 27% of the daily value of selenium. It protects against cancer and helps repair DNA in damaged cells. It also aids in the detoxification of the body.
- Copper/Folic Acid
The excellent levels of copper provide strength and flexibility to the bones and joints as well as being a part of enzymatic functions.
Folic acid prevents neural defects in the growing fetus when given during pregnancy.
- Minerals (calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium)
The various minerals that are found in appreciable amounts in sunflower seeds play an important role in enzyme synthesis, production of hormones, strengthening and formation of the bones, production of red blood cells, as well as controlling the heart and skeletal muscle activities.
- Vitamin E a potent anti-inflammatory antioxidant
- Vitamin E and cardiovascular disease
- Nutrition and cancer: A review of the evidence for an anti-cancer diet
- Health benefits of dietary fiber
- The Role of Vitamin E in Human Health and Some Diseases
- A review on dietary phytosterols: Their occurrence, metabolism and health benefits
- Why do we need magnesium?
- Selenium - Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- Micronutrient deficiencies in pregnancy worldwide: health effects and prevention
- Health benefits of selected minerals
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly