Sunflower seeds – Nutritional information
We all know what the sunflower seeds are – they are the fruit of the plant we call sunflower.
They are usually consumed as a snack rather that a part of a meal but can also be used as ingredients or garnishes in many recipes. On the other hand, you can put sunflower seeds in salads. They are native North American plant, which is now grown all over the world. They contain plenty of essential oils, vitamins and minerals and are amazing nutritious snack.
Per 100gr raw sunflower seed kernels
|Fat||51.5g (Saturated 4.5g , Monounsaturated 18.5g. Polyunsaturated 23.1g)|
|Vitamin A||50 IU|
Sunflower seeds contain phytosterols the chemical structure of which is similar to the cholesterol. It is thought that the consumption of enough phytosterols can reduce the levels of cholesterol in the blood, decrease the risk of various diseases and boost the immune system.
These seeds also contain vitamin E. This is the main fat-soluble antioxidant in the body – which means that they neutralize the free radicals in the body that, left alone, can cause damage to different molecules. It is even believed that the free radicals may lead to cancer. Thus, vitamin E protects the integrity and the health of the molecules. It also acts as anti-inflammatory.
All of this means that it is helpful in diseases dominated by inflammation or caused by free radicals – such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, etc. It has been also shown that vitamin E decreases the risk of colon cancer and reduces the frequency and the severity of hot flashes in women during menopause. Vitamin E also helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases. However, it has yet another benefit – it reduces the skin damaged by the UV rays, thus, it keeps your skin’s health.
The magnesium contained in the sunflower seeds has been shown to lower the high blood pressure, reduce the asthma severity, prevent migraines and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Magnesium is also important mineral for the production of energy and for the health of the bones. It regulates the tone of the muscles and nerves and keep the latter ones relaxed.
Sunflower seeds also contain another vital mineral – selenium. It has been shown to promote DNA repair and synthesis in cells that have been damages and inhibit the production of cancer cells while inducing their apoptosis (cell death caused by the cells themselves). Thus, selenium may be helpful in preventing cancer.
We already mentioned that these seeds contain magnesium which is important for the bones but we should also say that they also have phosphorus and copper – they are also vital for the proper mineralization of the bones which ensures that the bones are dense enough the support the weight of the body. If the mineralization process is impaired, the bones are prone to fracturing due to being weak structurally.
The potassium, calcium and magnesium trio also has another effect. It can help you keep your blood pressure in the normal range. They improve the flexibility of the blood vessels and vasodilate them which also translates to better cardiovascular health.
In addition, if you are a vegetarian, you have, obviously, not consuming meat. Yeah, but meat is the main source of protein and if you are not eating it, you should replace it. Well, sunflower seeds are also a wonderful protein source, although they cannot provide all essential amino acids.
Still, by combining them with other vegetarian foods that have enough protein, you can provide your body enough of this nutrient. Sunflower seeds can be helpful for weight loss, as well, due to their B vitamins and fiber content. The fiber is responsible for the feeling of satiety and will help you feel full longer. On the other hand, the B vitamins promote more efficient digestion of the macronutrients. These things are important for losing weight.
With what foods can we eat sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are usually eaten as a snack. Nevertheless, you can also make a soup out of them. Or you can consume sunflower seeds with yogurt and fruits. Some people also eat sunflower bread or sunflower rice. They can be also consumed spiced with various spices. Alternatively, you may add them to veggie burgers, different salads or various desserts.