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The Amazing Things You Never Imagined about Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds, those lovely, tasty black and white striped seeds that come from the center of those giant sunflowers. These flowers are native to North America and the Native American Indians have been enjoying them for at least 5,000 years. Spanish settlers bought them back to Spain, and soon they were growing throughout Europe. Believe it or not, the top sunflower seed growers today are in Russia, Peru, Argentina, and Spain.
Sunflower seeds might not be as nutrition packed as chia seeds or hemp seeds, but they still have plenty to offer, both in taste as well as nutrition. Sunflower seeds make a handy snack and are a terrific source of energy and since they contain a large amount of nutrients that many Americans are lacking in, adding some sunflower seeds to your diet is a good idea.
Keep reading for some of the amazing health benefits you can get from eating sunflower seeds.
1. Skin Protection
Some people have described vitamin E as the “lightning rod” of the cell, causing reactive molecules to hit the cell, much like lightning, yet cause no damage. The importance of vitamin E is particularly apparent when talking about the skin. Vitamin E protects your skin from UV radiation and, in several studies, when vitamin E is applied topically it has been proven to prevent UV damage. Eating a diet rich in vitamin E has been proven to have the same protective effect. Sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamin E and if you want to have beautiful, younger looking skin, then sunflower seeds belong in your diet.
2. Cardiovascular Benefits
Vitamin E at work again! This vitamin plays an important part in the prevention of heart disease. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps stop free radicals from oxidizing the cholesterol in your body. Only after cholesterol has been oxidized can it stick to the walls of your blood vessels and lead to heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. Just a quarter cup of sunflower seeds will get you about 90 percent of your recommended daily requirement of this important vitamin. Read more about tips to reduce cholesterol.
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3. Cancer Prevention
Several studies suggest that there is a strong connection between a low intake of selenium and cancer rates. Sunflower seeds are a great source of selenium. It’s been shown that selenium can induce DNA repair and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. Selenium is also used by many proteins, which is important when it comes to cancer protection. Just one quarter cup of sunflower seeds will give you more than 30 percent of your daily requirement of selenium. The vitamin E in sunflower seeds has also been shown to reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and colon cancer.
4. Healthy Bones
Magnesium is another mineral that sunflower seeds are rich in. Calcium is vital for strong bones, but magnesium is just as important. In fact, your body stores most of your magnesium in your bones. Magnesium is what gives your bones their physical structure, the rest located deep inside the bones where it is stored so that the body can call upon it should it need to. Sunflower seeds also contain copper and are important for function of the enzymes that provide the strength and flexibility in your bones.
Like many plant seeds, sunflower seeds are rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids, which means that our bodies cannot make these for themselves and we must get them through our foods. The omega-3 found in sunflower seeds is not as strong as the ones in fish oil or krill oil, but the benefits you will get from these seeds should not be underestimated. One study showed that the type of omega-3 fatty acids found in sunflower seeds, called ALA, can lower both glucose and triglyceride levels in humans. This study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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6. Full of Protein and Fiber
Most of the fiber that is found in these seeds is insoluble fiber, which stays intact in our digestive tracts and helps to flush toxic and excess waste out of our colons. Sunflower seeds are a great way to stay regular and avoid constipation. The protein in sunflower seeds has all 8 essential amino acids, which makes them a terrific source of complete protein for vegans and vegetarians. Find out more fiber rich foods.
7. Natural Anti-inflammatory
Vitamin E to the rescue again. Vitamin E travels through the body, neutralizing the free radicals that would otherwise damage structures that contain fat cells such as brain cells, cell membranes, and cholesterol. When you protect these cells, vitamin E has powerful anti-inflammatory effects that can stop rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and osteoarthritis, all chronic conditions that free radicals, and the inflammation they cause, play a part of.
Sunflower seeds are also high in many other nutrients including iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and most of the B vitamins. Just a handful of sunflower seeds each day can make a huge difference in how you feel and how your skin looks. They are available almost everywhere, all year around, so grab a handful every day for good health.