Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds – Healthy Positive Mind –
Sunflower is a tall, erect, herbaceous annual plant belonging to the family of Asteraceae, in the genus, Helianthus. Its botanical name is Helianthus annuus. It is native to Middle American region from where it spread as an important commercial crop all over the world through the European explorers. Today, Russian Union, China, USA, and Argentina are the leading producers of sunflower crop.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Sunflower kernels actually employed to extract edible oil at commercial levels. Besides being eaten as popular snacks, they are also used in the kitchen to prepare variety of recipes.
Health benefits of sunflower seeds and nutrition facts
Delicious and nutty sunflower seeds are widely considered as healthful foods. They are high in energy; 100 g seeds hold about 584 calories. They are one of the incredible sources of health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.
Helps lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good-cholesterol” in the blood
The seeds are especially rich in poly-unsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid, which constitute more 50% fatty acids in them. They are also good in mono-unsaturated oleic acid that helps lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good-cholesterol” in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet which is rich in monounsaturated fats help to prevent coronary artery disease, and stroke by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
Essential for growth
Sunflower seeds are a very good source of proteins loaded with fine quality amino acids such as tryptophan that are essential for growth, especially in children. Just 100 g of seeds provide about 21 g of protein.
Helps reduce blood sugar levels
Sunflower seeds contain health benefiting poly-phenol compounds such as chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, and caffeic acids. These compounds are natural anti-oxidants, which help remove harmful oxidant molecules from the body. Further, chlorogenic acid helps reduce blood sugar levels by limiting glycogen breakdown in the liver.
Protecting from harmful oxygen-free radicals
The seeds are a very rich source of vitamin E; contain about 35.17 g per 100 g. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
Incredible sources of B-complex group of vitamins
Sunflower kernels are one of the finest sources of B-complex group of vitamins. They are very good sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), pantothenic acid, and riboflavin.
Sunflowers are incredible sources of folic acid
100 g of kernels contains 227 µg of folic acid. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis. When given in anticipant mothers during the peri-conceptional period, it may prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
Helps reduce anxiety and neurosis
Niacin and pyridoxine are other B-complex vitamins found abundantly in the sunflower seeds. About 8.35 mg of niacin is provided by just 100 g of seeds. Niacin helps reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn helps reduce anxiety and neurosis.
The seeds are incredibly rich sources of many essential minerals
Calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper are especially concentrated in sunflower seeds. Many of these minerals play a vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme secretion, hormone production, as well as in the regulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.
Just a handful of sunflower kernels a day provides much of the recommended level of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, and protein.
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