Lately I’ve been craving sunflower seeds. For no apparent reason and without planning, my hands reaches out and grabs a sunflower seeds bag when I’m doing my grocery shopping. I’ve been eating them as snacks, adding them to a salad and using them for cooking.
Since I’m committed to eating healthy and conscious (and since I have this blog), I’ve decided to do some research.
Turns out sunflower seeds are actually pretty good for us.
First, sunflower seeds help prevent cardiovascular diseases – they are a good source of monounsaturated Oleic Acid which helps to lower LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and to increase HDL (“good cholesterol”) in the blood. They are also an exceptional source of Vitamin E – Vitamin E is an antioxidant which helps neutralizes free radicals and keeps them from oxidizing cholesterol. Only oxidized cholesterol is able to stick to our artery, which then increases the risk of heart attacks or stroke.
Second, they help control sugar levels in the blood. Sunflower seeds are packed with natural antioxidants – polyphenol compounds such as chlorgenic acids, quinic acids and caffeic acids, which help remove harmful oxidant molecules from the body. Chlorgenic acid, by the way, also helps reduce blood sugar levels by slowing down breakdown of glycogen in the liver. With the number of diabetic people increasing steadily all over the world, sunflower seeds are a good natural aid to help reduce blood sugar level.
Sunflower seeds are also a rich source of folic acid, which is needed for synthesizing and repairing DNA (useful for expecting mothers) and helps reduce the risk of stroke. A quick Google search shows that 20% of the US population has some form of folic acid deficiency.
Like the Brazil nuts, sunflowers seeds are also a great source of Selenium, one of the most important components of many proteins, especially gluthathione peroxidase, which plays an important role in preventing cancer.
In addition to selenium, sunflower seeds are rich with more essential minerals, such as calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium and copper. These minerals play a vital role in bone mineralization, RBC production and skeletal muscle activities.
It’s important to remember, though, that sunflower seeds have a lot of calories – about 800 calories for a cup, so it’s best not to eat them by the handfuls.