Health Benefits of Sunflower
Sunflower has abundant health benefits that ensure you a healthy living in the long run. You can reap the health benefits of sunflower in two different ways; one from sunflower seeds and the other from sunflower oil. Sunflower seeds improve digestion, brain power and cardiovascular system; it is rich in magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc and iron. On the other hand, sunflower oil keeps away heart diseases and is a great skin moisture retainer.
The beautiful sunflower plant with its bright yellow petals is a great treat to the eyes. These petals have a seed-studded center. The grayish-green seeds are encased in tear-dropped shaped gray or black shells with black and white stripes. These seeds have high oil content and have been one of the primary sources used to yield polyunsaturated oil. The sunflower seeds with shell have mild nutty taste and tender texture.
Health benefits of sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are very low in cholesterol and sodium, thereby protect your heart. These seeds are a good source of vitamin B6, thiamin, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese and selenium, and are rich in vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol). To keep your daily nutrition upright, you should opt for these seeds. Sunflower seeds are also very good for your digestion and brain health.
Prevents cellular damage
Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, which is a vital component of your day-to-day nutrition needs. These seeds are great antioxidants that stop the extensive spread of free radicals within the human body; these free radicals can lead to cellular damage. The sources of vitamin E are rare, sunflower seeds are rich in this vitamin that aids in the proper functioning of circulatory system. Vitamin E aldo helps the blood to clot readily when you experience external wounds, thereby helping the curing process. Sunflower seeds also help to lower risk of cardiac diseases and diabetes. The selenium present in sunflower seeds repairs cellular damage and ceases the spread of cancerous cells.
Sunflower seeds are abundant in dietary fiber. If your diet is deficient of fiber consumption, you may head towards a host of health problems like constipation, piles, hemorrhoids, colon cancer and so on. Severe digestive problems can even increase toxicity within your intestines. The recommended amount of fiber is around 30 grams per day for an adult. However, it has been noted in surveys that most people fail to consume even 15 grams per day. By including sunflower seeds in diet, you can easily get a rich supply of the dietary fiber and reduce the possibility of digestion related problems.
Increases energy levels
Most of the athletes enjoy eating sunflower seeds as these seeds offer high amounts of protein and carbohydrate. These seeds aid the liver discharge glycogen into the bloodstream. Glycogen is a form of sugar; thereby providing an extra boost of quick energy.
Strengthens bones & muscles
Iron in sunflower seeds distributes oxygen to your muscles, while zinc strengthens your immune system and helps you to stay away from cough and cold. Magnesium is also essential for strong bones and energy production. Almost two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is stored in the bones. Magnesium aids the bones to have their physical structure, the remaining magnesium is found on the surface of the bones, which is used up by the body as required. High magnesium content in sunflower seeds lowers your blood pressure; thus it reduces the possibility of a heart attack.
Improves brain health
It has been proved in several studies that sunflower seeds can actually have a calming effect on your brain. This property of sunflower seeds is due to the high content of tryptophan present within the seeds. When you have foods containing tryptophan it efficiently upsurges your brain's fabrication of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter. Serotonin also effectively reduces tension thereby creating a relaxing effect. The choline content in these seeds plays a vital role in memory and visionary functions.
Prevents cardio vascular diseases
Sunflower seeds have high amount of betaine, which effectively protects against cardiovascular diseases. Moreover the presence of arginine in these seeds is also responsible for a healthy heart. The lignans keeps blood cholesterol in levels, thus preventing heart attack.
Helpful during pregnancy
Sunflower seeds are abundant in folate content, also known as folic acid which is a type of vitamin B. Folate is very good for pregnant as it helps in the production of new cells in the body thereby promoting the health of DNA and RNA which is very significant for the growth and enlargement of the fetus. It works in association with vitamin B-12 to form hemoglobin in the red blood cells. By having enough folate in your body you also lower the chances of heart ailments.
Health benefits of Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is probably the most common term whenever we discuss frying or cooking. It is the non-volatile oil produced from sunflower seeds. The most common use of sunflower oil is as frying oil and in cosmetic formulations like lip balms and skin creams as a soothing element. Whenever we hear about someone having heart attack, the first thought comes is the person should exercise regularly and use reputed sunflower oil brand for cooking. The health awareness programs have spread this useful information throughout that sunflower oil is the best option to keep your heart healthy even after consuming fried foods.
The health benefits of sunflower oil are almost same as that of sunflower seeds as the origin of sunflower oil is from the parent seeds. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats present in sunflower oil provide energy and also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Alike the seeds, sunflower oil also has choline and phenolic acid that prevent heart diseases.
It is believed that sunflower oil also has important role to play in skin care. Some people use sunflower oil for massaging the pre-term infants having low birth weight or other complications. It is claimed that this efficiently lowers the chances of having skin infections. Since their organs (including skin) are in an underdeveloped stage this oil acts as a protective barrier. Hiowever, sufficient scientific literature is not available on this benefits of sunflower oil.
Like the sunflower seed, sunflower oil is also rich in vitamin E. Thus, being an antioxidant, it counterbalances cancer-causing free radicals. Vitamin E also prevents asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and colon cancer. While magnesium prevents muscle cramps, Tryptophan helps in relaxing the brain and helps to cure insomnia. Sunflower oil also has palmitic acid (used in anti-psychotic medicines), stearic acid, lecithin, tocopherols, carotenoids and selenium. This oil is also rich in proteins, copper, iron, zinc, calcium and omega-6 fatty acids.
In today’s fast lifestyle and enhanced levels of stress along with the tedious professional life, we hardly have time to check and consume the nutritional foods, but by using sunflower oil in our kitchens we can at least improve the quality of cooking. The fatty diet, fast foods, and lack of exercises have the possibility of bringing about obesity. The generation trend is moving fast towards foods and meals with unhealthy ingredients that can bring a lasting impact on your health. Many of these foods don't provide a source of protein, vitamins and essential nutrients. By incorporating sunflower oil in your diet, you can lead a healthy life reaping its ultimate benefits as discussed above. Majority of the restaurants and food manufacturers are well aware of the health benefits of the sunflower oil, whether they use it or not is their choice.
The versatility of this oil has prompted its usage to a great extent. Sunflower oil can be used in extremely high cooking temperatures and keeps the food fresh and healthier for much longer time. Sunflower seeds also enrich your food flavor. They can be sprinkled over salads, cereals, and soups, used on desserts or as snacks and also mixed with vegetables. To savor a tasty, healthy and quick energy-giving snack, add sunflower seeds to your recipe.
Origin of sunflower seeds & sunflower oil
Sunflowers are believed to have originated in Mexico and Peru. In United States, sunflower are known to be cultivated during the ancient times. The Native Americans used sunflowers for more than 5,000 years. They not only used the seeds as a premium food and an oil source, but also utilized the flowers, roots and stems for different purposes such as for dye pigment. Sunflowers were introduced to Europe by the Spanish explorers. They were first grown in Spain and then subsequently introduced to other neighboring countries. Currently, sunflower oil is one of the most popular oils in the world. Today, the major commercial markets of sunflower include the Russian Federation, Spain, Argentina, France, Peru, and China.
Universal cultures have been enjoying sunflower seeds for decades. You can eat the seeds raw, roasted, or use it for flavor and texture in your selected recipes. Today, most of the people prefer taking sunflower seeds as a healthy snack between meals. These seeds provide ample energy in the easiest way. However, many people are unacquainted with the health benefits of having sunflower seeds. These seeds are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients.
You must be familiar with the refined cooking oil used in majority kitchens, which is actually the sunflower oil we are talking about. The health benefiting, natural sunflower oil comes from oil type sunflower seeds. This oil is light both in taste and appearance. Sunflower oil supplies more vitamin E than any other vegetable oil available in the market. Sunflower oil is a mixture of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It prevents many diseases like heart problems, obesity or indigestion as it has low saturated fat levels. Sunflower is known to be the most versatile vegetable oil as you can cook any recipe with this oil. Renowned cooks all over the world prefer this oil for its frying performance, light taste, and associated health benefits.
How to buy and store sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are sometimes sold in shelled or unshelled form and are usually available in packed containers and sometimes bulk bins. You may purchase these in the bulk section, but make sure that the bins containing the seeds are well covered and the seeds' ensure maximal freshness. If you buy unshelled seeds, make sure that they are not broken or dirty. They should be strong and not limp in texture. When you buy shelled seeds, avoid the yellowish ones as they probably have become rancid. Sunflower seeds have high fat content that can go sour, thus it is always advisable to store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also store them in the freezer.
If you buy sunflower oil, make sure it is of a reputed brand. Check the sealed portion to ensure its quality. Storing sunflower oil requires no special treatment; you can keep it at room temperature. Containers can be of stainless steel or plastic.
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