Dynamite comes in small packages!
Sunflower seeds may be tiny, but they offer a world of nutritional benefits that are hard to beat.
The oil & minerals contained in these little seeds provide you and me with so many benefits, they should be on the shelves of chemists and doctor’s offices.
We all know that sunflower seeds are healthy, but are you actually aware of what happens to your body when you eat them?
Here are 15 positive ways your body responds when you consume fresh, raw sunflower seeds.
#1. Brain Power
Sunflower seeds are like food for your brain. There are three ways you can improve your mental health with this powerful superfood. If you struggle with depression, headaches or insomnia, then try sunflower seeds as a remedy for all three.
There’s an essential amino acid in sunflower seeds that generate serotonin in our brains. This is a hormone that makes us feel happy, elated and content with life. That means you’re less likely to suffer from depression when you eat them.
Migraines and Headaches
Potassium is effective at balancing out your blood pressure. It’s high blood pressure that brings on headaches and dreaded migraines.
Sunflower seeds are nature’s headache tablets. if you suffer from migraines or headaches, add sunflower seeds to your diet to counter high blood pressure.
Insomnia and Anxiety
Another benefit can be attributed to magnesium, which helps you sleep and reduces stress & anxiety. More sleep? Less stress? That sounds like the kind of mental health I’d sign up for!
#2. Flu Prevention
You didn’t think sunflower seeds could prevent flu, did you? Well, they do. Why? Because they contain zinc! Zinc is a natural immune booster. It will fight off colds and flu before they have a chance to spread throughout your body.
Believe it or not, sunflower seeds also contain vitamin C. And you already know that vitamin C is excellent for the immune system, don’t you? A healthy immune system also means that your body repairs itself quicker. Not only external wounds but also internal cell damage.
Folic acid contained in sunflower seeds will repair and maintain your cells. This may not sound like much, but it ultimately means that your body stays strong against infections free radicals and disease.
#3. Different Heart Benefits
Most of us know that sunflower seeds are great for the heart. What you may not know is that they promote heart health in two very important ways.
Because the oil in sunflower seeds is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, it actively flushes the cholesterol out of your arteries. Replacing bad fat with good fat is the best way to keep your heart healthy and to prevent cholesterol-related problems later in life.
High blood pressure can cause a lot of damage to your heart. It’s another problem sunflower seeds prevents. As you get older, it’s wise to eat sunflower seeds to ensure a strong heart and regulated blood pressure.
Wondering how much sunflower seeds to eat daily? Keep your heart pumping at optimum health by snacking on a quarter cup of sunflower seeds every day. You’ll even notice the difference in your breathing and your energy levels.
#4. Sleep and Stress
There are few things more disruptive to your health than a lack of sleep and/or stress. We already looked at how magnesium affects the brain to encourage sleep and mitigate stress. But sunflower seeds also have two substances that are active anti-depressants; choline and tryptophan. Sleep disorders are usually a result of anxiety. Choline and tryptophan also act against anxiety and help you manage your stress rather than being overcome by it.
#5. Digestion Benefits
It’s amazing to think that a seed with so many benefits can hold oil yet still retain a consistency that provides fibre. That’s exactly what sunflower seeds offer. They’re not only packed with healthy fats, but they assist your stomach with digestion. Sunflower seeds keep you regular throughout the week and even clean out your colon. The stomach is an organ that processes a lot of unhealthy foods. Sunflower seeds actively alkalinize your colon and keep your intestines functioning normally.
#6. Prevents and Combats Diabetes
Oxidative damage? Want to know what it is? It’s the process of your organ cells breaking down because of unhealthy food, radiation and stress. Sunflower seeds are full of antioxidants which protect and repair cell damage.
Because diabetes is directly caused by glandular and hormonal problems, sunflower seeds have proven to be a powerful preventative food that mitigates diabetes. Eating sugary foods will accelerate diabetes, but sunflower seeds will counter the problem. If you are worried about the damage excessive sugar consumption has had on your organs, cut down on sweet snacks and opt for a handful of sunflower seeds instead.
In this way, sunflower seeds benefit for weight loss too. It’s an all-around healthy snack that not only promotes health but a balanced weight too.
#7. Sunflower Sprouts for Your Lungs
It’s worth including sunflower sprouts into this list. Sprouting your sunflower seeds changes the dynamic of the food and offers a whole new range of vitamin & mineral benefits.
One of those benefits is the prevention of pathogens which affect the lungs. Eating sunflower sprouts will assist with the following lung related issues:
- Runny nose
- Chest congestion
- Mucus build up
- Lower lung infections
Don’t discount the seeds themselves for healthy lungs. Ultimately, the benefits to your blood pressure and cell-building capabilities will also affect your lungs positively. Add to that a healthy heart and a solid immune system; and you’ve got an absolute superfood on your hands.
#8. Eye Health
Did you know that shiny eyes are a sign of good eyesight?
The oil in sunflower seeds has vitamin A, an important vitamin your eyes need. Cataracts is one of the most common eye health problems today. This is caused by a dryness of the eyes which ends up forming a layer over the eyes—making it harder for light to enter in.
Sunflower seeds are rich in Carotenoids (beta-carotene). Carotenoids act as an internal eye moisturizer. This prevents eyes from drying out and cataracts disease from forming.
#9. Nerve Health
How do you know when your nervous system is acting up?
- Your muscles will begin to contract involuntarily
- You will feel aches or numbness in your legs, arms or hands
- You may begin to twitch or your legs will become restless
These symptoms are caused by calcium. Yes, you heard right. When calcium rushes into your nerve cells, it activates them and causes them to be overstimulated. Magnesium prevents this from happening and keeps your muscles relaxed. As soon as your body lacks magnesium, you may begin to see these nerve problems arise.
As we’ve already seen, sunflower seeds contain a lot of magnesium. This regulates your nerves and keeps the calcium where it belong out of your nervous system.
#10. Bone Health
Similar to nuts, sunflower seeds are an excellent source of protein and oils. Protein is essential in promoting healthy bones and preventing the onset of various bone diseases. The oils in these seeds are also necessary to prevent crippling bone conditions that cause immense pain and discomfort.
Your bones are always developing, growing and repairing themselves. If they aren’t able to do this, they will begin to weaken—which is excruciating for sufferers.
This condition is called osteoporosis, and it affects over 80% of geriatric Americans. Sunflower seeds are rich in vegetarian protein, making them an excellent countermeasure against this crippling disease.
The oil from sunflowers often gets a bad rap because of its association with cholesterol. But eating a healthy portion of sunflower seeds on a daily basis will provide your body with enough essential oils to prevent arthritis.
Not only does sunflower oil prevent this disease, but it has also been shown to cure arthritis. Suffice to say that eating a small portion each day will keep this disease at bay throughout your later years.
#11. Energy Booster!
I love foods that give me energy. Sunflower seeds are top of the list. Mixing sunflower seeds with raisins and other nuts is a great energy boosting snack. Vitamin B1 is a natural energy booster, and sunflower seeds are full of this vitamin. Also known as thiamine, vitamin B1 helps your body absorb food and convert it into energy.
Combine that with the protein and oil components of this snack and you have a natural energy booster that’s hard to rival.
#12. Acne Remedy
Acne is caused by a combination of oil build up and clogged pores. It mostly affects teenagers, but adults have been known to suffer too. Sunflower seeds contain several acids that provide your skin with more elasticity. This food actually softens your skin and thereby opens your pores, preventing acne.
Other skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema are also combatted thanks to these helpful acids. Skin elasticity and softness is the countermeasure to many skin problems. So if you or someone you know suffers from acne, suggest a diet adjustment with regular intake of sunflower seeds.
#13. Prevents Cancer
The anti-oxidant properties in sunflower seeds to prevent cancer. Vitamin E, copper and selenium are powerful cancer-fighting weapons. Sunflower seeds are also considered a relatively high alkaline food. If you know anything about the body’s alkaline/acid balance, you know that most diseases cannot survive in an alkaline environment and that includes cancer.
Include this snack as a part of a high nutrient eating plan. Combining it with green vegetables, grains and other healthy foods you will prevent cancer and live a more energetic life.
#14. Sunflower Seeds Benefits for Skin
Vitamin E goes directly to your nails, hair, and skin. This is good news for your skin because it gives it that wonderful glow that makes us look young and healthy.
The same way the sun provides your skin with vitamin E, sunflower seeds feed your skin with this essential vitamin. It’s not only a cosmetic benefit, but it’s also super healthy for your skin cells. Vitamin E will protect your skin from damage caused by dryness. It’s like life for your skin!
#15. Anti-aging for Your Hair
Your hair has the same qualities as your skin to look shiny and moist. Sunflower seeds add this desirable quality to your hair, so why bother with these expensive shampoos and conditioners? Moisturize your hair from the inside out and you’ll prevent hair damage by strengthening it.
A moderate helping of sunflower seeds will also prevent hair loss. Balding is often caused by a dry scalp, so keeping your scalp moist with the oil in sunflower seeds is a great way to stop hair from falling out.
One of the other sunflower seeds benefits for hair is preventing it from going grey. The properties in these amazing seeds will help you retain your hair color well into your life. It’s all about keeping your hair moist and healthy from the inside!
What About Side Effects?
When we analyze sunflower seeds benefits and side effects, we find that the benefits far outweigh the side effects.
So are there any side effects to eating this healthy snack? The short answer is yes, but only if you overdo it. Like with any food, too much of a good thing is not good.
Eating too many sunflower seeds has been said to cause hair loss. Strangely enough, eating this snack will actually prevent hair loss by feeding your scalp with essential oils and moisture-retaining properties, but too much has the opposite effect.
Also, bear in mind that eating any food that’s rich in oil can make you gain weight. While sunflower seeds help you lose weight in small portions, too many will make you pack on fat.
Another possible side effect of eating too many sunflower seeds is sodium intake. Too much salt isn’t good for your blood pressure or your heart. So when eating sunflower seeds, be sure to measure a healthy portion.
How to Eat Sunflower Seeds
Looking for inventive ways to get sunflowers into your diet? Here are a few suggestions:
- Add it to your breakfast cereal. Sunflower seeds absorb the milk, so you don’t have to worry about it adding a grittiness to your meal.
- Including sunflower seeds to a stew or casserole will add a wonderful nutty flavor to the dish.
- Feel free to bake with sunflower seeds. Add them to cookies, brownies and especially oatmeal cookies.
- Sprinkle sunflower seeds into a salad. Again, the nutty flavor adds a whole new dimension to your meal.
- Eat it as a snack. Sunflower seeds are convenient and low GI. Grab a handful if you’re feeling hungry and you’ll feel satiated for a decent amount of time.
A Tasty and Convenient Snack
Experts debate about how much sunflower seeds to eat daily, but the consensus is approximately one-quarter cup per day.
From this portion, you will receive a healthy dose of:
- Essential omega oils and fats
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
This is a snack with the best of both worlds. It’s healthy and delicious. The nutty flavor of sunflower seeds make it a perfect addition to many dishes like casseroles, salads, breakfast cereals and even cookies!
It’s also a convenient snack that you can carry with you to work or in the car. Sunflower seeds are not hard to eat. They’re not messy either.
If there is such a thing as the perfect food, I’d say we may have found it.