Originating from the much-adored Sunflower, famous around the world for its iconic shape and colour, sunflower seeds are greyish or black tear-shaped seeds.
If you look out for their distinctive vertical black and white stripes across its shell, you’ll find these seeds in almost every supermarket, either in standalone packages or mixed into assorted seed collections together with pumpkin seeds or other varieties.
As these seeds have a very high oil content, they are a great source of polyunsaturated oil as well as a variety of different vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E that can support your health in more ways than one.
The history of sunflower seeds
Sunflowers actually originate from North America, despite the common assumption that they come from further south in places like Mexico or Peru. They were used for thousands of years by the Native Americans as a source of food and oil before Spanish explorers eventually set foot in the region.
These explorers and traders, who subsequently frequented the region, eventually brought back these seeds to Europe and introduced them to other neighbouring countries. And the result is that today, we can see sunflower fields in many European nations such as France, Germany and England.
Currently, sunflower oil is one of the most popular oils in the world used by many households for cooking, and as a cheaper alternative to olive oil.
Neutralise free radicals
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E. This means it contains a high volume of antioxidants that can be useful in neutralizing free radicals and reducing the likelihood of cell damage and deterioration of membranes.
As well as protecting these cellular components, vitamin E has significant anti-inflammatory effects have been associated with various things like colon cancer prevention, reduced diabetic complications and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Lower your cholesterol
Vitamin E is also one of the main antioxidants found in cholesterol particles and may be able to help prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol, which can prevent the occurrence of blocked arteries, heart attacks or strokes.
Also, phytosterols, found in certain substances like sunflower seeds, may also be able to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood, decreasing the associated risks of high levels.
A rich source of magnesium
Sunflower seeds are a great source of magnesium. Multiple studies have demonstrated that magnesium can be useful in reducing the severity of things like high blood pressure, migraines and asthma as well as reducing the risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Magnesium is also necessary for healthy bones and energy production as well as muscle conditioning. Insufficient levels of magnesium in the body can potentially contribute to muscle spasms, muscle cramps, tension, soreness or fatigue.
A healthy snack
Sunflower seeds, sold either shelled or unshelled, are generally a great snack to have during your week. Whether you dish out a small bowl to have with your lunch or look for food items that include sunflower seeds in their recipes, they’re a great natural source of multiple minerals and vitamins our bodies need to stay strong.