Botanical name: Helianthus annuus L.
Sunflower seeds are the seeds from the sunflower plant, Helianthus annuus., an annual plant of the botanical family Solanaceae Compositae which reaches a height of about two meters.
This sunflower seed is known for its richness in vitamin E and B1, and linoleic acid, which gives it healing power in cases of arterisclerosis and excess cholesterol.
Properties of sunflower seeds
The sunflower seed contains:
• About 22.8% of proteins, an amount similar to that of meat.
• A high amount of fats which can be used as cooking oil, and represents about 49.5% of its total content.
• A significant amount of carbohydrates in about 8.3%.
• Minerals in rich amounts such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and iron.
Health benefits / medicinal uses of sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds has various healing properties and medicinal values. Regular eating of unsalted sunflower seeds is indicated in the following conditions:
• Excess cholesterol – The regular consumption of unsalted sunflower seeds or even sunflower seed oil reduces the body’s cholesterol level. This can be far achieved by substituting sunflower seeds for other foods rich in calorie or fats.
• Coronary heart disease and arteriosclerosis – Vitamin E which is contained in sunflower seeds in rich amounts, is a powerful antioxidant that prevents the deterioration of the arteries, and also reduce the stickiness of blood which helps prevent blood clots and heart attack.
Moreover, the essential fatty acid present in sunflower seeds known as linoleic acid, stops the progress of arteriosclerosis by lowering the cholesterol level in the blood.
• Nervous disorders – The B group vitamins are those that most influence the healthy function of the brain and nervous system. For example, the lack of vitamin B1 causes depression and irritability, and lack of vitamin B6 causes fatigue and nervousness.
The sunflower seeds contains abundant amounts of vitamin B1 which makes them indicated in the following cases:
» Nervousness, and
• Cancer – From the results of various experimental and epidemiological activities, it has been shown that vitamin E exercises an anticarcinogenic effect (cancer preventing), as well as stands the chance of possible cure of cancer in some cases.
• Diabetes – Sunflower seeds are well tolerated by the diabetics and constitute a nutritious food that should be included in their diet.
• Skin disorders – The essential fatty acid linoleic present in sunflower seeds in conjunction with vitamin E improves the elasticity os the skin, thus, protecting its cells from the effect of aging. It also helps strengthen the nails and hair, making it possible to reduce the number of gray hairs.
Moreover, the consumption of sunflower seeds is highly recommended in cases of:
» Dermatitis, and
» Dry craked skin.
• Sunflower seeds are also indicated in cases where the call for increased nutritional needs arises. Sunflower seeds being a high-calorie food and rich in essential nutrients is appropriate for:
» those with anemia
» Lactating of pregnant women
» those recovering from debilitating diseases
» anyone needing a greater supply of nutrient, and
» the undernourished.