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1. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamins and minerals, right? A handful, about 35g or just over an ounce, contains more than 80% of your daily Vitamin E requirement, 70% of your copper requirement, and more than a third of your Vitamin B1, manganese, selenium, and phosphorous requirements. Then there's a fifth of your folate and vitamin B3, as well as a quarter of your magnesium and vitamin B6. That handful also contains 7 grammes of protein and 3 grammes of fibre.
2. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that protects the cells of the body from free radical damage. It also maintains the health of lipids (fats) and the membranes that surround them. As a result, it contributes to the preservation of healthy skin and eyes. It also strengthens the immune system's defences. Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B3 (niacin) help the body release energy from food and maintain a healthy nervous system. B6 is needed for protein breakdown and the production of haemoglobin, a substance found in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body. Folate contributes to the formation of blood cells.
3. More than half of the weight of that handful is made up of fat. The good news is that the majority of the fats are beneficial fatty acids. Linoleic acid (Omega 6) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, whereas Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid (Omega 9). Both are heart-healthy and recommended as saturated-fat substitutes. Both help to lower bad LDL cholesterol levels in the body. Omega 6 is an essential fatty acid that the body cannot produce and must thus obtain from food. However, dieters should be aware that an ounce of seeds contains more than 150 calories.
4. Sunflower minerals serve a variety of functions in the human body. Copper contributes to the formation of red and white blood cells, as well as the release of iron for the formation of haemoglobin. Magnesium is necessary for bone health and aids in the conversion of food into energy. Manganese contributes to the production and activation of essential enzymes. Selenium helps the immune system function properly and protects cells and tissues from damage. Phosphorus contributes to the formation of bones and teeth. Sunflower seeds contain phytosterols, which are plant compounds that have been shown to lower cholesterol.
5. Sunflowers are native to the Americas and were a valuable source of high-energy food for American Indian tribes as long as 5,000 years ago. In the 16th century, Spanish explorers brought the giant flowers, scientifically known as Helianthus Annus, to Europe, and the plant quickly spread across the continent. According to legend, it was the Russians who turned the giant flowers into a global food crop, thanks to Peter the Great's visit to Holland.
6. Because of its high Vitamin E content, sunflower oil has grown in popularity in the beauty industry. It's primarily sold as an emollient, and it's marketed as a dry skin moisturiser, stretch mark reducer, and acne and sunburn treatment. As a hair treatment, it is said to control frizzy hair, condition greasy hair, and prevent hair loss. It can also be used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, such as constipation and athlete's foot.
7. Sunflower seeds are a staple in recipes for energy bars, breakfast bars, muesli, and granolas, and for good reason. They can be used to add nutrition and a subtle flavour to just about anything. They make a fantastic salad dressing or dip after being soaked for a couple of hours and then blitzed in a blender with water, lemon juice, and garlic. Of course, you can just grab a handful and eat them straight from the bag. Delicious.
Discover our range of sunflower seeds here