The sunflower seed is the fruit of the sunflower. They are sweet and nutty in flavor and contain many essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
The Helianthus anuus, the flower from which sunflower seeds are extracted, is native to th Middle American region from where it spread as an important commercial crop all over the world through the European explorers.
The small seeds are a rich source of fatty acids, essential carbonhydrates and protein. The seeds are also plentiful in dietary fiber, many B vitamins and vitamin E. Additionally, the seeds contain high levels of dietary minerals, including magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Half of a 100 gr serving is fat, mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, principally linoleic acid. Additionally, the seeds contain phytosterols which may contribute toward lower levels of blood cholesterol.
• Sunflower seeds are high in energy as a hundred grams of seeds contain 584 calories. Nonetheless, they are one of the incredible sources of health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.
• Much of their calories come from fatty acids. The seeds are especially rich in poly-unsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid. They are also good in mono-unsaturated oleic acid that helps lower LDL bad cholesterol and increase HDL good cholesterol in the blood.
• Like in other nuts, they too are a very good source of proteins loaded with fine quality amino acids such as tryptophan that are vital for growth, especially in children.
• In addition, sunflower seeds contain health benefiting poly-phenol compounds such as chlorogenic acid, quinic acid and caffeic acid. These compounds are natural antioxidants, which help remove harmful oxidant molecules from the body. Additionally, chlorogenic acid helps reduce blood sugar levels by limiting glycogen breakdown in the liver.
• The seeds are very rich source of vitamin E, which 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.
• Sunflower kernels are one of the finest sources of B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and riboflavin.
• The seeds are also very rich in in folic acid, which is essential in DNA synthesis.
• Niacin and pyridoxine are other B-complex vitamins found abundantly in the sunflower seeds. Niacin helps reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn helps to reduce anciety and neurosis.
• The seeds are abundant in many essential minerals, like calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium and copper. 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.