1 – Sunflower Seeds for Cholesterol
It has been known for some time that seeds and nuts are rich sources of phytosterols (about 270-290 mg in 100 g), a type of plant chemical which has a chemical structure a lot like cholesterol with the exception of an extra methyl or ethyl group. Although the exact mechanism is not known, phytosterols reduce cholesterol absorption, and thus reduce circulating levels of cholesterol. An analysis of some 27 seeds and nuts revealed that pistachios and sunflower kernels had the highest levels of phytosterols among the seeds and nuts which are most commonly consumed as snack foods in the US.
One study found that people given diets containing mid-oleic sunflower oil had a reduction in both total and LDL cholesterol.
Another study randomly placed participants into two groups; one group was given a diet high in saturated fat and the other group a monounsaturated fatty acid diet. The study found that high-oleic-acid sunflower oil lowered both triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels.
2 – Sunflower Seeds for Cancer
Phytosterols appear not only to play an important role in the regulation of cardiovascular disease but also to exhibit anticancer properties. Sunflower seeds are a good source of selenium, which is a potential chemo preventive agent against prostate cancer. The results of a study published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition concluded that higher serum selenium may be associated with lower prostate cancer risk in men who report a high intake of vitamin E, in multivitamin users, and in smokers.
3 – Sunflower Seeds for Blood Pressure
Researchers have demonstrated in laboratory studies that sunflower seeds appear to release a compound upon digestion which has the potential to reduce blood pressure and could function as a natural way to help reduce high blood pressure.
Nutrients in Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a fantastic source of vitamin E, selenium, protein, magnesium, fiber, copper, folic acid, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins Bl, B6, and B5.
History of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflowers are thought to have originated in Mexico and Peru, where they were first cultivated by the indigenous people.
Sunflowers found their way to Europe with the Spanish explorers sometime around 1500, and thereafter throughout Western Europe but mostly as an ornamental plant with some limited medicinal uses. The English were the first to commercially make oil from sunflower seed.
Nowadays, sunflower oil is among the most popular oils worldwide. The top commercial producers of sunflower seeds are Spain, the Russian Federation, France, Argentina, Peru, China, and the United States.