Available throughout the year, packed with vital nutrients, and bearing a tasty nutty flavor, sunflower seeds are one of nature's nutritious gifts to mankind. Right from being a rich source of antioxidants to heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, sunflower seeds offer all that is required for a healthy diet and thus, a healthy living. This write-up discusses some must-know nutrition facts about raw sunflower seeds, which also include the many health benefits they offer.
Note: Raw sunflower seeds and roasted sunflower seeds offer the same health benefits to the body. However, the raw seeds retain most of their antioxidant properties when compared to the roasted ones. The following nutritional facts and health benefits apply to both roasted and raw sunflower seeds.
(serving size - 35 g)
|Total Fat||18.01 g|
|Dietary fiber||3.01 g|
|Sugar (total)||0.92 g|
|Vitamin E||12.31 mg|
|Omega-6 fatty acids||8.07 g|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||0.03 g|
|Vitamin B1||0.52 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.47 mg|
Nutrients and their Health Benefits
Antioxidants are essential to counter the harmful effects that free radicals put the body through. Raw sunflower seeds are packed with vitamin E, which is the primary antioxidant of the body. Here is how it helps.
- Vitamin E reduces symptoms of inflammatory conditions, like arthritis, asthma, osteoarthritis, etc.
- It lowers the risk of colon cancer.
- It reduces the severity of hot flashes in women and its frequency too.
- It lowers predisposition to complications caused by diabetes.
- It reduces the chances to develop cardiovascular problems.
Sunflower seeds are high in tryptophan -- an essential amino acid. This amino acid is responsible for the production of the neurotransmitter called serotonin. And why is serotonin important? Many scientists believe that this neurotransmitter has several vital functions as outlined below.
- It improves the feeling of well-being, comfort, and contentment.
- It promotes a good night's sleep.
- It reduces feelings of anxiety, depression, tension, etc.
- It helps you feel emotionally stable.
Does the name sound familiar, somewhat like cholesterol? Hey, but don't worry; phytosterols are the "good guys", who help fight high cholesterol levels in the body. These compounds are an important constituent of sunflower seeds. Here are the important functions.
- They enhance the way the immune system responds to illnesses in the body.
- They lower the risk of certain types of cancers.
Apart from being a good source of serotonin, which helps you "feel good", sunflower seeds are also packed with magnesium -- nature's own drug for calmness and relaxation. Adequate amount of this mineral in the diet helps in the following ways.
- It mitigates the severity of asthma symptoms.
- It brings down high blood pressure.
- It lowers the chances of a migraine.
- It reduces the risk of serious events, such as heart attack, or stroke.
- It reduces the incidence of muscle spasms, soreness, and fatigue.
Also known as vitamin B9, folate is a water-soluble vitamin and an important part of the nutrition in sunflower seeds. It is important for the body because of the following reasons.
- It is responsible for the formation of red blood cells.
- It is necessary for growth and division of cells.
- It plays a vital role in the development of a healthy fetus.
- It keeps the heart healthy.
- It helps to reduce the risk of some types of cancers, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease.
Scientists have discovered, through animal testing, that selenium may have an important role to play in reducing the risk of cancer. They found out that the mineral is capable of repairing damaged DNA and inducing synthesis in damaged cells (the cancer cells). What's more amazing is, selenium can also cause the cancer cells to go into a self-destruction mode. All such actions of selenium only suggest that it is yet another important antioxidant. Other benefits of selenium, which sunflower seeds have in plentiful, include the following.
- It enhances male fertility by increasing sperm motility.
- It reduces the risk of prostate cancer.
- It heals skin burns.
- It enhances the immune response against bacterial and viral infections.
Copper is a trace mineral required by the body to keep functioning smoothly. It is also an important part of the nutrition pyramid of raw and roasted sunflower seeds. Following are its functions.
- It helps in the production, utilization, and storage of iron.
- It is required to manufacture red blood cells.
- It is responsible for cholesterol and glucose metabolism.
- It helps in tissue repair and healing.
- It triggers the immune response to ward off infections.
- It is required for the growth and development of organs including the brain and heart.
- It is necessary for maintaining healthy bones and connective tissues.
Sunflower seeds are also a significant source of zinc. This trace mineral plays an important role in many ways as follows:
- DNA production, functioning, and repair are its prime functions.
- It helps in functioning of the immune system.
- It helps in maintaining the sense of taste and smell.
- It aids the body in recovering from wounds.
- It is needed for the functioning of red blood cells and white blood cells.
- It assists in muscle and strength development.
- It maintains reproductive health in both men and women.
- It prevents cancer.
- It improves cardiovascular health.
- It lowers the risk of diabetes.
- It helps to prevent Alzheimer's disease.
- It aids in the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Sunflower seeds are also high in nutrients such as:
- Vitamin B1 and B6
The fact that something as simple as sunflower seeds has so much to offer may be quite unbelievable. So, the only way to experience and examine all such benefits is to munch a handful of them every day!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a nutritionist.