Sunflower “seeds” or kernels are mini nutrient powerhouses and eating a small portion can have a big effect on your health. They were discovered over 5,000 years ago in Northern America and are now found worldwide.
They are high in vitamin E and magnesium; 1/4 cup contains more than half of your vitamin E and almost 30% of your daily magnesium requirements! The high vitamin E level can increase blood circulation, which makes hair shiny and can rejuvenate the skin. The magnesium content improves mood and temperament by improving thyroid function. It has also been shown to promote respiratory function, heart health and reduce premenstrual tension.
They also contain moderate amounts of selenium, manganese, phosphorus and smaller amounts of zinc, copper, iron and vitamin B (niacin and folate).
Sunflower seeds are found in the head of the flower and are grown for seed and cooking oil production
Interestingly the nutrients and minerals in sunflower seeds have also been shown to help;
the growth of hair - the iron stimulates circulation to the scalp to increase hair growth.
cholesterol levels - the phytosterols that lower cholesterol levels and plaque deposits in blood vessels are found in the highest concentrations in sunflower seeds (and pistachios!).
cardiovascular health - vitamin E, folate and essential fatty acids promote cardiovascular health.
balance hormone levels - research has linked magnesium and selenium in sunflower seeds to better functioning of the thyroid gland, which controls many of the hormonal activities in the body.
improve digestion - the fibre can improve digestion and lower cholesterol levels.
sleep - the magnesium helps the body convert tryptophan into serotonin, helping to relax the body for sleep.
Hulled sunflower seeds
Side effects of sunflower seeds There is no doubt that these seeds have health benefits, however like most things too many can have undesired consequences. These seeds are high in calories and eaten in large portions can impact your waistline. They have also been associated with kidney complaints and rashes.
Thankfully a handful of these seeds will provide nutritional benefit without impacting the waist line and undesired consequences. The fibre content helps to make the body feel full which will help prevent overeating.
You can eat sunflower seeds raw, toasted or with other foods with the shells or de-hulled.
I am glad I added these nutty tasting seeds into my diet. Do you eat them regularly? What’s your favourite way to eat them?
That is a great idea to make breakfast extra nutritious. Have you tried to make the sunflower butter at home? Try blending with a touch of olive oil until the right consistency is reached. It tastes great.