Sunflower seeds are a unique food rich in many types of necessary, and sometimes hard-to-reach nutrients. Sunflower seeds are in the top 10 foods rich in vitamin E, copper, B vitamins, such as thiamine, phosphorus, selenium and other useful compounds.
Sunflower seeds, like almost all types of nuts and seeds, are a healthy source of essential fatty acids; their specific fatty acids are in the form of linoleic acid. In addition, sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of fiber, amino acids (especially tryptophan), which make up the building blocks of proteins, B vitamins, phytosterols and so on.
Although there is still an opinion that the consumption of fat can lead to undesirable weight gain, the opposite is true: the use of healthy fats leads to a healthy cardiovascular system, stable healthy body weight and a decrease in the level of inflammatory processes in the body.
Healthy sources of fats, such as those found in sunflower seeds, are actually the building blocks for cell membranes, allowing the body to:
- maintain hormonal balance,
- slow down the absorption of food during meals to prolong the feeling of satiety, without feeling hunger longer,
- act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
By adding healthy sources of fats to your diet, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in sunflower seeds, and replacing trans fats and low-grade, easily oxidized fats, you can get many health benefits.
In the article, we consider in detail the scientific facts about the benefits and harms of sunflower seeds for the body of women and men, the nutritional value of these seeds and the profile of nutrients and compounds.
Nutrition Facts of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are, of course, sunflower seeds. Yellow flowers produce small edible seeds that are gray or green in color and are covered in a dark green, gray or black shell called “husk”.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of many vital nutrients, including vitamin E, also known as gamma tocopherol. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant found in many nuts and seeds, but sunflower seeds are one of the best natural sources of this antioxidant that works hard to fight free radicals in the body.
Sunflower seeds are most strongly correlated with increased cardiovascular health, due to their ability to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and prevent hypertension, in addition to many other beneficial effects such as cancer prevention, reduction of headaches and muscle cramps, improved detoxification, healthy skin and much more.
30 grams of sunflower seeds contain:
Calories : 190 kcal
Fat : 16 gr.
Protein : 6 gr.
Fiber : 4 gr.
Vitamin E : 82%
Copper : 70%
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) : 43%
Manganese : 34%
Selenium : 34%
Phosphorus : 33%
Magnesium : 28%
Vitamin B6 : 28%
Folate : 20%
Vitamin B3 : 18%
The benefits of sunflower seeds for the body
Consider 6 scientifically proven beneficial properties of sunflower seeds for the health of women and men
1. Sunflower seeds reduce the risk of heart disease
Vitamin E, also known as gamma tocopherol, is a powerful antioxidant found in nuts and seeds, including sunflower seeds. A high supply of antioxidant vitamin E (80% of the daily recommended value in each ¼ cup of seeds) helps to reduce oxidative stress, leading to various diseases.
Researchers now know that high levels of inflammation correlate with an increased risk of heart disease, as well as stroke, cancer, diabetes, and even serious neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
It has been proven that eating sunflower seeds often helps to balance cholesterol levels, lower arterial hypertension, lower high blood pressure and protect against heart disease – all that is possible after the level of inflammation is controlled.
Sunflower seeds are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce oxidative stress and the presence of damaging free radicals in the body. According to recent studies published in the journal Chemistry of Agricultural and Food Products, the amount of beneficial phytosterols present in nuts and seeds was higher in sunflower seeds than in other seeds. Phytosterols help to keep the level of “bad” cholesterol under control, which is one of the best ways to protect against cardiovascular diseases.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, that is, it must be consumed with fat so that it is absorbed by the body in the best way. Sunflower seeds provide essential fatty acids in addition to vitamin E, which makes them even more beneficial.
Vitamin E antioxidants are found in cholesterol particles and help limit the effect of free radicals on cholesterol so that it does not oxidize (2). Oxidation of cholesterol leads to the development of atherosclerosis, which leads to blockage of the arteries and may ultimately lead to cardiac arrest.
2. Sunflower seeds help prevent cancer
Studies show that sunflower seeds are especially useful for cancer prevention. An important range of antioxidants, trace elements and other vitamins found in sunflower seeds helps to reduce the oxidative stress that occurs in the body, which, when it remains uncontrolled, contributes to the development of cancer.
Studies show that nutrients found in sunflower seeds have chemoprevention compounds that stop the early phases of cancer development to help stop the growth of the tumor (3). Antioxidants found in sunflower seeds are used to repair DNA and work to slow the growth of mutated cancer cells. This makes the use of sunflower seeds an excellent way to prevent cancer, as well as reduce the likelihood of its relapse ( 1 ).
Gamma-tocopherol (vitamin E) has proven effective in cancer prevention research. Studies have shown that vitamin E protects men from prostate cancer, and a new study by the University of Texas suggests that it can also help reduce the risk of developing lung cancer.
Sunflower seeds also contain selenium, an antioxidant that is important for the prevention of breast cancer. Selenium is also able to help restore DNA and detoxify the body from harmful, damaged cells. Selenium helps the body stop the proliferation of cancer cells and stop the growth of the tumor through apoptosis, self-destruction of damaged cells by its own body, including in cancerous tumors ( 2 ).
3. Sunflower seeds support thyroid function
A huge number of people around the world suffer from thyroid disease, and women and older people become even more susceptible to these diseases and are at risk. One of the leading causes of thyroid disorders, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, is the deficiency of the mineral selenium, which, fortunately, is found in large quantities in sunflower seeds.
The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating body temperature, heart rate, protein production and controlling metabolic rate and many other important functions, therefore, thyroid disorder can manifest itself with many different symptoms (weight gain, fatigue, abnormal body temperature, etc.) and It can be difficult to diagnose without a blood or urine test.
One of the key points in the fight against thyroid disorders, without the use of pharmaceuticals, is the inclusion of more selenium and iodine in your diet.
4. Sunflower seeds are beneficial in the fight against osteoporosis
Sunflower seeds are provided with a large amount of magnesium, a deficiency of which is diagnosed today by many due to poor nutrition with a low content of fresh, nutritious foods. Magnesium plays an important role in the body: it helps balance the calcium / potassium ratio in cells, is critical to overall cardiovascular health, and helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Magnesium is critical for women, as it is involved in the synthesis of hormones. It is important to take it when planning pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
Magnesium is partly responsible for maintaining a healthy skeletal structure and helps prevent a condition associated with loss of bone mineral density, like osteoporosis. In addition, it helps in blood coagulation, as well as in calcification of bones. Magnesium also helps reduce chronic migraines and headaches, constipation, chronic fatigue, and even symptoms associated with mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Sunflower seeds are a rich source of B vitamins, including vitamin B5, which is also known as pantothenic acid. Like other types of B vitamins, vitamin B5 plays an important role in energy metabolism, as it acts as a coenzyme involved in energy chemical reactions within the body.
Pantothenic acid also plays an important role in the synthesis of fats, the regulation of hormones and the maintenance of healthy brain function. While severe vitamin B5 deficiency is not very common, mild deficiencies include symptoms such as fatigue, muscle cramps and plantar fasciitis, which is a common, painful damage to the lower leg and legs that is common in athletes.
5. Sunflower seeds help get rid of diabetes
It has been proven that a diet rich in all types of nuts and seeds reduces hyperglycemia and helps balance blood sugar levels. This reduces the likelihood of developing a metabolic syndrome, including diabetes or insulin resistance. It is known that people who traditionally eat large amounts of seeds are much less likely to have diseases associated with uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
Elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance lead to further inflammation, weight gain, and even autoimmune responses. But, fortunately, the powerful nutrients in sunflower seeds help stop the spikes and drops in blood sugar that many people experience due to excessive consumption of sugary foods. Magnesium, for example, has been shown to have a protective effect against the development of type 2 diabetes ( 3 ).
The population of South America, including those currently living in Mexico and Peru, has been consuming sunflower seeds for thousands of years. It is believed that seeds were first eaten by humans due to their high fat content, dating back to about 5,000 years ago. Spanish researchers, who discovered seeds in South America, later distributed them throughout Europe after returning home, and then soon sent them to North America.
6. Sunflower seeds improve skin health
The benefits of sunflower seeds for women is that this product helps to maintain healthy skin condition. Studies have shown that antioxidant – vitamin E is especially useful for maintaining young, strong, healthy skin. Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E in addition to essential fatty acids, which help preserve the skin and avoid harmful sun exposure and poor ecology. Studies have shown that in controlled animal trials, both sunflower seeds and flax seeds protected the skin from the effects of harmful free radicals and helped to stay elastic, without signs of inflammation and damage. Even when the animals were aging, their skin looked much younger and healthier than those who did not have seeds in their diet ( 4 ).
What sunflower seeds to buy
Today, sunflower seeds are one of the most consumed seeds in the world, especially in Eastern Europe. In fact, there are three types of commonly used sunflower seeds: linoleic (the most common), sunflower seeds with a high content of oleins and the species “nusun”. The species that is most often used is linoleic.
ll three species have different nutrient content, but they are very similar in terms of health benefits and use. Sunflower seeds are harvested all over the world, on the territory of those countries where sunflowers grow – in Eastern Europe, Turkey, Asian countries, the entire Middle East, as well as in North and South America.
They can be consumed raw, sprouted, fried, fried. Usually, sunflower seeds are used to make vegetable sunflower oil – the most popular and relatively inexpensive type of oil in the world today. In addition, sunflower oil is considered the least allergic of all, which is why it is so popular.
Sunflower seeds are sold both in shell (husk), and in already peeled form. The best way to buy healthy sunflower seeds is to choose them in a special store of healthy natural products. Seeds bought on the market can be spoiled, overcooked and not so useful.
Since there are a lot of polyunsaturated fats in seeds, they can easily go rancid if kept too long in the sun or in heat. To preserve nutrients and prevent them from deteriorating, store the seeds in a refrigerator in an airtight container. By storing them in this way, they should remain fresh for several months, and their taste should not change.
If you buy sunflower oil, check the composition of the product to make sure that no other ingredients are added, like any hydrogenated fats, additional flavors or thickeners. Store sunflower oil in the refrigerator and check the expiration date so that you do not use an expired product.
About polyunsaturated fats and the possible dangers of sunflower oil
Sunflower seeds have a very high oil content, so, unfortunately, they are usually used as the basis for squeezing polyunsaturated oils. While sunflower seeds themselves are very useful, oils made using sunflower seeds can be very harmful because their polyunsaturated fats do not withstand the high temperature of cooking.
All polyunsaturated fats can easily become rancid oils and oxidize when you cook with them, turning them into a vehicle for toxins, not nutrients. The heat and pressure associated with extracting oil from something like sunflower seeds or olive oil destroy their antioxidants and alter the chemical nature of fat, creating dangerous free radicals.
Many types of polyunsaturated oils are inexpensive and widely available at most grocery stores today because they are made from cheap crops such as corn and soy, which are often genetically modified. However, they are dangerous to your health, and unrefined coconut oil is a much better option for cooking.
This oil is much less susceptible to processing and also has a higher heat threshold. It is believed that modern diets may contain up to 30% calories from omega-6 polyunsaturated oils, but studies show that this amount is too large and that these types of fats should be balanced with omega-3 fats and sources of healthy saturated fat.
It has been proven that excessive consumption of polyunsaturated oils contributes to a large number of diseases, including an increased risk of cancer and heart disease, dysfunction of the immune system, damage to reproductive organs and much more. Therefore, remember that you can eat sunflower seeds a lot and often, it will benefit your health! But do not use sunflower oil for heat treatment of food – this can harm your body.