When we hear the title of sunflower seed, what we are actually referring to is the cypsela of the sunflower. This part of the seed is dehulled, and that’s the part we are snacking on. Sunflower seeds are a very common snack. They can really satisfy an oral craving for food, since chomping away at the seeds and spitting out the shells has become a pastime for baseball players and farmers alike.
Sunflower seeds are also very cheap per ounce, and contain a lot of nutrition. Most people tend to shy away from seeds because they can be pretty addicting, resulting in a high calorie count. There are also many people that prefer the salted kind, which can really dry out your mouth. If you are picking the right type of sunflower seeds, though, you can see a lot of health benefits. Let’s take a look at the nutrition of sunflower seeds and what those benefits are.
Nutrition of Sunflower Seeds
There are a lot of different ways that you can get sunflower seeds, from raw to roasted to unsalted to salted. While raw is likely the healthiest way to go, the easiest way for you to get sunflower seeds while still staying healthy is if you get the dry roasted and unsalted kind. In a one ounce serving, you will be getting 12 percent of your daily fiber recommendation, with around 160 calories. There are also plenty of important vitamins and minerals in each serving.
For the vitamins, you are getting 37 percent of your daily vitamin E recommendation, with significant amounts of pantothenic acid (20 percent), folate (17 percent), vitamin B6 (11 percent) and niacin (11 percent). You can even get small amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin and riboflavin in each serving.
Finally, for the minerals, the most significant ones are selenium, manganese, copper and phosphorus, each with around 30 percent of your daily recommendation. There is also a solid amount of zinc, magnesium, potassium and iron, with a little bit of calcium thrown in for good measure. All around, sunflower seeds are very nutritional.
If you are looking to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol while preventing your chances of getting heart disease, sunflower seeds can go a long way. There are phytosterols found in sunflower seeds, and these have been found to have a positive effect on your cholesterol. You can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising your HDL (good) cholesterol levels at the same time.
The vitamin E found in sunflower seeds are going to help you by reducing the inflammation that can cause many serious heart diseases. Vitamin E is one of the main ingredients in medication that is given to patients with high cholesterol. Studies have shown that your chances of preventing Alzheimer’s or stroke will raise significantly thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties in sunflower seeds.
High Thyroid Function
The first thing that you often think about when it comes to your thyroid is how it controls your weight. You want to take care of your thyroid, and consuming sunflower seeds can do that because of the selenium content. Many thyroid problems happen as a result of low selenium levels, which includes hypothyroidism.
Selenium can be hard to find in foods, and sunflower seeds have a perfect amount per serving. You don’t want to have too much selenium, as having too much can result in physical problems. However, sunflower seeds shouldn’t give you too much and let your thyroid function more normally. This will also lead to weight loss if you are trying to diet, as long as you don’t eat too many seeds.
Not only can sunflower seeds increase the blood flow in your system, but it can also help your blood sugar levels. Sunflower seeds and other similar foods help to balance your blood sugar and insulin levels. A big part of that is the magnesium found in seeds, and the healthy fats found in the seeds further support a healthy blood sugar.
This is another thing that’s going to be beneficial when trying to lose weight. Those that find themselves on successful diets tend to have increased thyroid health and balanced blood sugar, which boosts your metabolism overall. Who knew that sunflower seeds could be such a good diet food?
Build Strong Bones
Remember all of those minerals that we mentioned earlier? Those minerals are vital for your bone health. Potassium, calcium, magnesium and all of the others help to strengthen your bone cells. When that happens, you are less likely to lose bone density later on in your life. That leads to a lower chances of bone issues such as osteoporosis and arthritis.
For those that experience those types of problems already, you can at least treat the pain by eating more sunflower seeds. The seeds contain plenty of anti-inflammatory properties that ease pain in the joints. Once again, your boosted metabolism comes into play as you can prevent many different aches and pains with a healthier metabolism.
Sunflower seeds help you both on the inside and the outside. Those that want to improve their skin’s health should be eating more thanks to the vitamin E levels, with minerals like copper. This will help you produce more melanin to keep your skin’s color, and attack free radicals that can cause early signs of aging and sun damage.
Finally, your skin will be more moisturized and can even clear up problems such as acne and eczema. Just to top it all off, your hair gets a boost from sunflower seeds. Many of the same vitamins improve your scalp health. That allows you to grow hair that’s thicker, fuller and comes in much faster.
Summing it Up
The first thing that you have to look out for when it comes to sunflower seeds is controlling how much you eat. If you are on a diet and looking for something to keep your mouth busy instead of eating other foods, chomping on the shell of a sunflower seed isn’t going to bring many calories. However, eating those kernels for too long is going to bring a lot of calories. That can result in an excess of calories, leading to weight gain.
You also want to watch out for the salt content, and getting the unsalted kind won’t bring the extra sodium that your body might not be able to handle. There is also a considerable amount of selenium, and too much selenium in your system can present problems. To experience weight gain or selenium toxicity, you would have to eat a lot of sunflower seeds on a daily basis. As long as you control how many you are eating, sunflower seeds are a great food where the benefits far outweigh the rare negatives.