Did you know that munching on some sunflower seeds, also known as ‘surajmukhi ke beej‘ in Hindi can offer incredible health benefits? Sunflower seeds are actually considered good for health because of its nutritional value. Find out how here. These sweet and nutty sunflower seeds are increasingly gaining popularity as snacks as they are so filling. Their mild nutty taste makes them a filling as well as nutritious food. These seeds are highly nutritious comprising of calories, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Sunflower seeds are obtained from the big round center of the sunflower which turns throughout the day to follow the course of the sun. This bright yellow center of the sunflower produces grayish-green or black seeds encased in tear-dropped shaped gaey or black shells often having black and white stripes. They are generally three types of sunflower seeds namely linoleic, highly oleic, and NuSun. These have been categorized on the basis of their levels of monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated fats.
Now let’s check out the health benefits of sunflower seeds:
Sunflower Seeds: Health Benefits
1. Cardiovascular Health
Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin C, which helps in preventing cardiovascular disease. Being an antioxidant, vitamin E prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol. On oxidation, cholesterol sticks to the blood vessel walls and causes atherosclerosis, leading to blocked arteries, heart attack or stroke. A quarter cup of sunflower seeds provides over ninety percent of the daily value of vitamin E.
2. Lowers Cholesterol
Sunflowers seeds have been ranked at the top of the nuts and seeds list for their high content of phytosterols or cholesterol lowering compounds. These seeds are loaded with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are good fats that lower bad cholesterol. Besides, they are rich in fiber that contributes to lowering cholesterol in some people.
3. Supports Digestion
Due to their high content of dietary fiber, raw seeds of sunflower can aid in digesting food and even cure constipation.
4. Prevents Cancer
Sunflower seeds have a high content of vitamin E, selenium, and copper that have antioxidant properties. As per research, these antioxidants prevent cellular damage that often leads to cancer. These nutrients prevent cancer by reducing and suppressing cellular damage from oxidants and protecting tissue from oxidant free radical damage. Sunflower seeds can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer due to their high phytosterol content. They also contain a compound called lignans, which also protects against certain types of cancer. These naturally occurring compounds can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, thus preventing colon, prostate and breast cancer.
5. Bone Health
Sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium which is also necessary for strong bones besides calcium. Most of the magnesium in the body is present in our bones and helps lend bones their physical structure while the rest is located on the surface of the bones where it is stored for the body to be used according to requirement. These seeds also contain copper which is vital for the function of enzymes involved in cross-linking collagen and elastin, thus providing strength and flexibility in bones and joints. Vitamin E is effective in reducing arthritis symptoms due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Beneficial For The Nerves
Magnesium in sunflower seeds keeps our nerves relaxed by preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cells and activating them, thereby relaxing our blood vessels and muscles too. Too little magnesium results in too much calcium gaining entrance to the nerve cells, causing it to send too many messages and leading to too much contraction.
7. Mental Health
Sunflower seeds have a positive effect on your mood by lessening the chances of depression. They contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps produce serotonin, an important neurotransmitter. When serotonin is released in our bodies, it relieves tension, calms the brain and promotes relaxation. Choline, a compound found in sunflower seeds helps in improving memory and cognitive function. Magnesium helps diminish the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure and prevents heart attack, soreness, and fatigue. Sunflower seeds also have high amounts of potassium which helps to counterbalance the effect of sodium in your blood and lowers blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of developing hypertension.
8. Anti-inflammatory Properties
Vitamin E in sunflower seeds is the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. This vitamin travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules like cell membranes, brain cells, and cholesterol. Thus, vitamin E exhibits significant anti-inflammatory effects, resulting in the reduction of diseases caused by free radicals and inflammation such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
9. Source Of Antioxidants
Sunflower seeds are rich in antioxidants such as selenium and vitamin E. These antioxidants prevent or limit oxidative damage to your cells, thus protecting you from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
10. Delicious Nutty Flavor
Sunflower seeds have a crunchy, nutty taste that makes them delectable (1). Include them in your daily diet of granola, salads and stir-fries. You can also add them to yogurt, rice, pasta, sandwiches or mix it into the bread dough.
11. Stress Buster
Sunflower seeds contain copious amounts of magnesium that soothes the nerves, and eases stress and migraines, thereby relaxing your mind (2). The seeds also contain tryptophan and choline that help in combating anxiety and depression. Choline improves brain function and boosts memory.
12. Prevents Free Radical Damage
Sunflower seeds are packed with vitamin E (tocopherol). It is a fat-soluble antioxidant that neutralizes cancer-causing free radicals and prevents them from damaging brain cells, cell membranes, and cholesterol. It also helps to maintain blood circulation and production of red blood cells (RBCs) (3).
13. Promotes Cell Formation
Sunflower is a good source of folic acid (folates). The vitamin is essential for the production of new DNA, which is needed for the formation of new cells (4). Folates constitute an important part of the diet of pregnant women as it promotes healthy neural tube formation, adequate birth weight and proper development of the face, heart, spine and brain of the babies. Hence, sunflower seeds, sprouts, and oil are considered highly beneficial for pregnant women.
14. Controls High Blood Pressure
Sunflower seeds and sprouts can give a boost to your antioxidant capacity since they have rich amounts of vitamin E. This vitamin works in tandem with vitamin C and selenium to reduce high blood pressure (5).
15. Chest Congestion
The sunflower seeds and sprouts are a natural remedy to get relief from chest congestion. In Ayurveda, these sprouts are thought to have the ability to encourage clearance of the lungs.This natural expectorant acts as a preventive measure against lower respiratory infections to deter the invasion of pathogens (6).
16. Prevents Osteoporosis
Sunflower seed sprouts are the best vegetarian source of protein. Protein helps in repairing the muscle tissue and aids in various enzymatic functions of the body. Protein is also essential for bone development and thus, prevents osteoporosis. This helps in the proper development of bone matrix and also supports bone strength, all your life. Sunflower seeds can be a good alternative to meat, beef or pork proteins for strict vegetarians (7).
17. Potassium For Fluid Balance
Sunflower seeds are extremely rich in potassium (8). They help to meet the daily requirement of potassium i.e. 4,700 mg of potassium per day easily. Potassium is also useful to balance the effects of sodium in fluid balance and in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of hypertension.
Magnesium in sunflower benefits your nerves by preventing calcium from entering the nerve cells and activating them. They act as nerves, blood vessels, and muscle relaxant. Adding sunflower seeds to your daily diet can get rid of migraine headaches, soreness, high blood pressure, muscle tension, and fatigue. They can also be useful in lowering the frequency of migraines and heart attacks.
Sunflower seeds also contain tryptophan (amino acid) that produces serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which is responsible for relieving tension, calming the brain and promoting relaxation.
18. Lowers Risk Of Infection In Infants
Sunflower seed lowers the risk of infection in infants and prevents disorders like premature deliveries and low birth weight. Preterm babies are at a higher risk of infection due to their under-developed organs and skin which act a protective barrier (9).
19. Anti-Cancer Properties
Sunflower seeds contain a good amount of selenium proven to fight cancer. Selenium boosts DNA repair and prevents multiplying of cancer cells. This mineral provides protection against cancers of skin, bladder, colon, and prostate. Sunflower oil is also rich in carotenoids which help in controlling cell damage and thus averts the risk of developing cancer of the lung, uterus, and skin (10).
20. Prevents Arthritis
Worried about arthritis? Switch to sunflower oil to reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Sunflower oil has shown conclusive results to cure and prevent rheumatoid arthritis (11).
21. Prevents Asthma
Sunflower oil helps to prevent asthma and related symptoms like blocked nose, cold and cough (12).
22. Healthy Digestive System
Sunflower oil is a rich source of B-vitamins. These vitamins are essential for a healthy digestive system and production of energy (13).
24. Healthy Immune System
Zinc is another essential nutrient required by the body. Sunflower oil contains good amounts of zinc, and it helps maintain a healthy immune system. Zinc is also helpful in the healing of wounds and to maintain the sense of smell and taste.Vitamin E in sunflowers is also helpful in improving the immune system (15).
25. Thiamine For Energy
The seeds of sunflower contain thiamin (vitamin B1). It stimulates cell catalysts or enzymes for chemical reactions, and is required by the body to derive energy from food (16).
Sunflowers are also a good source of copper that helps in production of energy at the cellular level.
Sunflower: Skin Benefits
Adequate nutrition is a prerequisite for healthy skin. As stated earlier, sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, which protects your skin from oxidative (cell) damage and supports healthy skin growth. Some of its skin benefits are as follows.
26. Skin Protection And Maintenance
Sunflower seeds also contain copper which is vital for maintaining healthy skin. Copper is utilized by our body to produce melanin, the pigment which is responsible for giving your skin its color. The minute particles of this protein pigment protect your skin from damage by ultraviolet radiation.
27. Anti-Aging Benefits
Sunflower seeds contain certain nutrients which contribute to the health and vitality of the skin. Vitamin E is one of those which help in preventing the skin from free radical damage as well as sun damage. It also prevents scarring and appearance of wrinkles. The seeds also contain beta-carotene which makes your skin less sensitive to the sun. The various other antioxidants in sunflower seeds protect your skin from environmental damage, thus preventing signs of aging.
28. Combats Acne And Other Skin Problems
Sunflower seed oil is a good source of essential fatty acids such as linoleic, oleic, palmitic and stearic acids which encourage the formation of collagen and elastin, thus making your skin soft and smooth. The fatty acids have anti-bacterial properties which protect your skin from bacteria, thus lowering the occurrence of acne. According to research, sunflower seed oil may help protect the skin of infants born prematurely by reducing the risks of skin infection and disease. It is also believed that sunflower oil can soothe dermatitis and eczema.
29. Great Moisturizer
Sunflower seed oil acts as a great moisturizer, helping your skin to retain most of that moisture and providing a strong barrier. Its moisturizing qualities can be attributed to the presence of linoleic acid.
30. Glowing Skin
Sunflower seeds are a rich source of vitamin E. This vitamin helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays and give a glowing and youthful looking skin (17).
Sunflower: Hair Benefits
Sunflower seeds contain vital vitamins and minerals which are needed for healthy hair such as protein, selenium, vitamin E and B vitamins.
31. Stimulates Hair Growth
Zinc contained in sunflower seed promotes hair growth. However, excess consumption of zinc can lead to hair loss. Vitamin E also stimulates hair growth by increasing blood circulation to the scalp. It should also be consumed in moderation as too much of it can cause hair loss.
32. Prevents Hair Loss
Sunflower seeds also contain vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) which is not only crucial for the absorption of zinc but also has some hair loss preventing properties. These properties can be attributed to the ability of vitamin B6 to boost oxygen supply to the scalp. They are also best dietary sources of copper which is involved in melanin formation. This pigment is responsible for imparting color to your hair.
33. Moisturizes Your Hair
Sunflower seed oil is an inexpensive natural moisturizer for hair. It contains omega 6 fatty acids which help prevent thinning hair.
34. Prevents Graying Of Hair
Sunflowers are a good source of copper. This mineral is responsible for imparting color to your hair, and its deficiency is one of the leading causes of graying of hair. The rich presence of copper in sunflowers helps in maintaining the color and luster of hair.
Sunflower Seeds: Nutritional Value
Sunflower seeds are a nutrient rich food comprising of vitamins E and B and minerals like selenium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, and zinc as well as protein and heart-healthy fats. Its nutritional profile is explained below.
See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||51.46 g||172%|
|Dietary Fiber||8.6 g||23%|
|Pantothenic acid||1.130 mg||22%|
|Vitamin A||50 IU||1.6%|
|Vitamin E||35.17 mg||234%|
- Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds are one of the best sources of vitamin E. An ounce of sunflower seeds contain 10 mg of vitamin E which is 35% of a person’s recommended daily requirement. This nutrient helps in blood circulation and formation of red blood cells (RBCs).
- Vitamin B1: Sunflower seeds are also a good source of vitamin B1 or thiamine. An ounce of hulled sunflower seeds provides 0.4 milligrams of this nutrient. The recommended daily requirement of vitamin B1 is 1.2 milligrams and 1.1 milligrams for men and women respectively.
- Calories and Fat: Sunflower seeds are rich in heart-healthy fat with nearly 80% of their calories coming from fat. They mostly contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which provide about 160 calories per ounce serving.
- Protein and Fiber: Sunflower seeds are also high in protein. A 3.5 ounce serving of these seeds contains 22.78 grams of protein. They are also a good source of fiber providing about 10.5 grams per 3.5 ounce serving.
- Copper: Sunflower seeds are beneficial for your hair and skin due to their copper content. An ounce of sunflower seeds provides 512 micrograms of copper which is more than 50% of the recommended requirement of 900 micrograms.
- Potassium: Sunflower seeds are also a good source of potassium with a quarter cup serving providing 226 milligrams of this mineral.
- Zinc: They are also a good source of zinc. Proper intake of this mineral is important for male fertility. A quarter cup serving of sunflower seeds contains 1.75 milligrams of zinc. The recommended daily requirement is 11 mg for men.
So start finding ways to include sunflower seeds in your daily diet regimen. Aside from eating seeds in raw form, you can also mix an ounce of the seeds in your cold or hot beverage or sprinkle them over salads and other food servings Stay healthy, stay happy!!