Looking for a health-promoting snack? Enjoy a handful of mild nutty tasting sunflower seeds with their firm but tender texture to take care of your hunger and get a wealth of nutrition at the same time.
Sunflower seeds have been used throughout history to enhance energy, and as a medicine as well. As with most seeds, sunflower seeds are best eaten raw — they’re higher in nutrition than roasted, and definitely better than salted seeds. For people with blood pressure problems, sunflower seeds (unsalted) are very high in potassium and low in sodium — one cup of sunflower seeds contains more than 1,300mg of potassium and only 4mg of sodium.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules, such as cell membranes, brain cells, and cholesterol.
Vitamin E has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, help decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women going through menopause, and help reduce the development of diabetic complications. In addition, vitamin E plays an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Sunflower seeds are also a very good source of thiamin. Thiamin, or vitamin B1, is a vital member of the B-complex family, and it has a number of important health benefits. Among the many benefits of vitamin B1 is its ability to increase blood circulation and provide a greater supply of oxygen to the blood cells. In addition, vitamin B1 is known to help with the proper metabolism of carbohydrates, making it vital to good digestion.
According to the website WHFoods.com, sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium. Numerous studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Magnesium is also necessary for healthy bones and energy production.
Sunflower seeds are also a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that is of fundamental importance to human health. Accumulated evidence from prospective studies, intervention trials and studies on animal models of cancer has suggested a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence. Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, and to induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.
Sunflower seeds can be sprinkled on salads, used in baking breads and cookies, and can be baked in vegetable casseroles to add protein flavor and crunch.