8 Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a unique food that contains nutrients that would be quite difficult to consume otherwise. They are packed with nutrients such as Vitamin E, copper, B Vitamins (various ones) like thiamine, and selenium. Sunflower seeds are also high in essential fatty acids and are particularly high in linoleic acid. Sunflower seeds contain fiber, amino acids, and phytosterols as well.
The fats found in sunflower seeds are the healthy fats that do not cause weight gain, but rather promote optimal (healthy) weight, and reduced body weight. Healthy fats are the building blocks for cell membranes that allow the body to balance out its hormones, and help one feel full and satisfied longer. These fats are also ideal for replacing trans fats, which are unhealthier forms of fats.
Sunflower seeds contain antioxidants which help neutralize damage caused by free radicals within the body. Some studies show that sunflower seeds can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels as well, and can ease the effects of hypertension.
One ounce of sunflower seeds contain 164 calories, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber per serving.
8 Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
1. Sunflower seeds may improve cardiovascular health.
Sunflower seeds provide a great source of Vitamin C Which can help stave off cardiovascular disease, and being an antioxidant, Vitamin E can help prevent high cholesterol. (1) Cholesterol is is a concern because it sticks to blood vessels, leading to blocked arteries, heart attack, or stroke. Just ½ cup of sunflower seeds provides over 90% of one’s daily Vitamin E requirements. (2)
2. Sunflower seeds may offer mental health benefits.
Sunflower seeds can help manage depression as they provide the body with tryptophan with the body produce serotonin which is a vital neurotransmitter. (3) Seratonin is released into bloodstream and promotes relaxation and calms the nervous system. Chlorine found in sunflower seeds helps improve memory as well as reduces chances of heart attacks, soreness, and mental fatigue.
3. Sunflower seeds may lower your risk of developing certain cancers.
Selenium that is found in sunflower seeds has been shown to be linked to lower incidences of cancer in many animal studies, and many other studies suggest the results are going to be similar for human subjects. Selenium has been shown to help DNA repair itself and that inhibits more cell division that can cause higher risks of cancer. This inhibits cancers from taking root, flourishing, and growing. This is done as the body rids itself of abnormal cells that could grow and possibly develop into something cancerous in the body. (4)
4. Sunflower seeds are a potent source of magnesium.
Inadequate amounts of magnesium can lead to severe cardiovascular, nervous, and immune system issues. Both the skeletal and muscular systems also require magnesium to function optimally. Magnesium also helps promote optimal respiratory function, heart health, and reduces premenstrual symptoms. ¼ cup of sunflower seeds provides about 25% of the magnesium you need each day. (5)
5. Sunflower seeds may help digestion.
Sunflower seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber and without dietary fiber being adequate in one’s diet, one may experience digestive issues like constipation, piles, hemorrhoids, and colon cancer. The average person needs about 30 grams of fiber in their diet daily, and the average adult ends up consuming only about 15 grams of fiber per day. Sunflower seeds are a great snack to help add extra fiber to one’s daily diet to help improve digestive health. (6)
6. Sunflower seeds may aid fetal development.
Sunflower seeds provide the nursing mother with a B Vitamin called folate which is vital to the production of new cells in the body, and also promotes the healthful reproduction of both DNA and RNA which are significant to the development of a healthy fetus. (7) It also works in conjunction with Vitamin B12 to produce healthy red blood cells to lower the chance of heart issues and ailments.
7. Sunflower seeds provide energy.
Athletes often eat sunflower seeds for energy bursts as they pack a powerful combination of both carbohydrates and fats. Sunflower seeds also aid the liver in discharging glucose into the bloodstream. (8) Glucose is a form of sugar that provides a quick boost of energy, which is especially useful among athletes who engage in sports that require explosive movements.
8. Sunflower seeds may help prevent diabetes.
It is a known fact that a diet rich in seeds and nuts has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels and reduce hyperglycemia. This decreases your chances of developing insulin resistance or diabetes. Populations that eat a high amount of seeds have shown lower incidences of diseases related to high blood sugar levels. Certain nutrients in sunflower seeds help reduce spikes in blood sugar that are among in diets that are high in processed foods, refined grains and white sugar. Magnesium is one such example, and has been proven to protect against type 2 diabetes. (9)
Being high in so many nutrients that many people have a problem getting enough of in their diets make sunflower seeds a great addition to anyone’s diet. In addition to providing nutrients many people lack the dietary fiber sunflower seeds are chock-full of. Many people are also missing the healthy fats that sunflower seeds provide. Sunflower seeds help host energy levels, and benefit the health of the entire cardiovascular system as well.
Sunflower seeds make a great snack or addition to a meal. Adding them in can pay big benefits in terms of nutrients and health. Protecting cardiovascular health, boosting mental health, providing healthful fats, dietary fiber, and plenty of antioxidants make sunflower seeds a great choice to add to your diet.