Lifestyle

11 Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds You Should Know!

A bowl and bottle of sunflower seeds and oil
Written by Dr Prachi Garg
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Packed with loads of nutrients, sunflower seeds are actually fruits of sunflower (Helianthus annuus). These tiny white coloured seeds are encased in greyish black shells.

These soft seeds have a mild nutty flavour. You can roast them to increase their taste or have them as it is.

Nutritional value of Sunflower Seeds :

  • Sunflower seeds are rich in calories. 100 grams of these seeds give around 585 calories of energy. They have a good amount of fibre (8.5 g) and fats (51.5 g). Fats present are mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated; which are good fats. They are also rich in protein (20.77 g).
  • They are loaded with vitamins like Thiamine,  Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Folate, Choline, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin E.
  • Contain minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc etc.
  • Sunflower seeds when consumed, also provide us with plant compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids that are strong antioxidants.  [1]

Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds:

  • Immunity Booster:

Immunity boosting effects of sunflower seeds are due to the presence of vitamin E, zinc and selenium in them.

Vitamin E enhances immune responses and protects against several infectious diseases. [2] It is also a powerful antioxidant and prevents free radicals from damaging healthy cells in our body.

Zinc protects our body from inflammation, allergies and invading pathogens, thus preventing infections and increasing overall immunity. [3]

Selenium reduces inflammation and enhances immunity. [4] It also helps to reduce oxidative stress from free radicals.

  • Reduces Cholesterol:

The fibre content of sunflower seeds decreases levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood. [5]

Niacin or vitamin B3 present in sunflower seeds reduces total cholesterol levels and risk of heart diseases. [6]

Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid in sunflower seeds increases HDL cholesterol and reduces total serum cholesterol levels. [7]

Also Read: High Cholesterol Diet – Foods To Eat & Avoid

  • Cardioprotective Effects:

Sunflower seeds are rich in oleic and linoleic acid and low in saturated fats and sodium. They also contain magnesium, potassium and fibre. [8]

They help to lower blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels. Consuming them also reduces the occurrence of arrhythmias. All these effects help to protect our body from occurrence of cardiovascular disorders.

  • Reduces risk of Cancer:

Beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol present in sunflower seeds helps to prevent breast cancer. [9] It inhibits the growth of tumour cells, decreases the size of the tumour and also prevents metastasis.

Presence of strong antioxidants in sunflower seeds also reduces the risk of cancer.

Consumption of these seeds also reduces the chances of colon cancer.

  • Management of Diabetes:

Sunflower seeds are useful in reducing blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. [10]

Read More: 10 Best Food For Diabetes

  • Boosts function of Brain:

Sunflower seeds contain vitamin B6. It improves mood and concentration and enhances memory. [11] It releases serotonin and norepinephrine in our body.

Sunflower seeds also help to ease symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Also Read: 5 Foods That Are Good For Brain

  • Helps in Weight Loss:

Sunflower seeds are rich in proteins and fibre. They make us feel full for a long time, reduce our food intake and finally reduce the number of calories consumed. This helps in reduction of weight.

  • A Powerhouse of Energy:

Sunflower seeds are a good source of thiamine ( vitamin B1 ). Thiamine helps to breakdown carbohydrates, proteins and fats present in our food into energy. [12] They also help in muscle building.

A handful of sunflower seeds can give you instant energy when consumed.

Also Read: 9 Energy Giving Foods to Solve Your Energy Woes

  • Helps in Treatment of Anaemia:

Sunflower seeds are a good source of iron. Consuming these seeds helps to up our iron levels; thus helping people suffering from anaemia.

Read More: 7 Home Remedies for Anaemia

  • Helps to Detox our Body:

Sunflower seeds have potent antibacterial activity. They help in effectively removing bacteria and germs from cells.

They also help to flush out toxins from our body.

  • Good for our Skin:

Consuming sunflower seeds keep our skin glowing. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of these seeds also prevents infections, thus keeping our skin clear.

Oleic and linoleic acids, present in sunflower seeds help in the formation of collagen and elastin, speeding up wound healing. They also prevent the formation of scars.

Also Read: 10 Foods That Are Good For Skin

Sunflower Seeds are usually of two types-

  • Sunflower Seeds that we eat
  • Sunflower Seeds used to extract oil.

Around 2000 seeds are obtained from large sunflower heads. These seeds can be eaten as a snack or they can be added to :

  • Mukhwas
  • Nutrition bars
  • Bread
  • Muffins
  • Yoghurt
  • Stir-fries
  • Salads

You can even have sunflower butter made using these seeds.

Read More: Health Benefits & Uses of Sabja Seeds

Side effects of Sunflower Seeds:

  • Excess consumption of sunflower seeds may cause vomiting, stomach ache and constipation.
  • People allergic to sunflower seeds may show symptoms like vomiting, rashes, breathing problem, swelling and itching around the mouth etc.
  • Sunflower seeds are rich in calories. Consuming too much may lead to weight gain.
  • Sunflower seeds contain traces of cadmium. Eating too many seeds can be harmful to our kidneys.
  • Eating contaminated sprouted seeds may lead to bacterial infection (Salmonella).

Also Read: 12 Health Benefits of Poppy Seeds

Daily Dose of Sunflower Seeds :

  • Sunflower seeds should not be consumed more than 1 small cup ( around 30 grams ) per day.

Also Read: 14 Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

About the author

Dr Prachi Garg

A Gold Medallist Physiotherapist from the Maharashtra University
of Health Sciences (MUHS), and also a qualified Dietician who later
went on to establish the “Mera Health Genie Wellness, India” in 2009
with a vision to offer the best remedies possible through the medium
of alternative medicines.
Effectively used Physiotherapy, Diet and Nutrition, Yoga, and
Acupressure to help numerous people recover from an injury or
manage a long term problem, achieving fitness goals, managing
weight and well being.

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