Saturday, March 17, 2012

Five Health Reasons On Why To Eat Sunflower Kernels

The beautiful sunflower plant with its tall stalk ending in a large round flower ringed with yellow flowers contains hundreds of nutritious edible seeds. These black seeds contain kernels rich in polyunsaturated oil, minerals and vitamins. Sunflower seed kernels are considered to be a functional food. A functional food is a food that does more than simply provide nutrition. These types of foods also help to improve health and reduce the risk of disease. With their nutty flavor they are a great choice for a healthy snack.

Health Reason #1) Antioxidants

Vitamin E is a powerful fat soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties. The sunflower seed is a rich source of Vitamin E providing 35% of the recommended daily allowance in a one ounce serving. Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals to protect cells and skin. It also provides anti-inflammatory benefits that help to reduce or prevent symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism, asthma and has also been shown to help reduce complications from diabetes.

Health Reason #2) Heart Health

Getting a recommended amount of vitamin E can also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. It helps to prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol and causing it to stick to the wall of blood vessels causing blocked arteries and atherosclerosis. Enjoying a snack of sunflower seeds can actually be good for the heart.

Health Reason #3) Cancer Prevention

That same one ounce serving of seeds will provide the body with 30% of the recommended daily allowance of selenium. Selenium is a mineral that has been shown to help prevent cancer. It induces DNA repair and inhibits the production of malignant cells as well as to eliminate existing abnormal cells from the body.

Selenium continues its anti-cancer crusade by improving the health of the liver allowing it to naturally detoxify the molecules in the body. Without proper detoxification, these molecules can damage cells and promote the development of cancer cells.

The vitamin E found in a sunflower seed also contributes to reduce the risk of some cancers such as cancers of the colon, bladder and prostate.

Health Reason #4) Magnesium

Calcium is the mineral most often associated with strong healthy bones, but magnesium is just as important. Magnesium not only helps provide the bone structure, it also stores magnesium for future use by the body when needed. Magnesium is also known to help lower blood pressure and prevent migraines. Sunflower seed kernels contain 30% of the recommended daily allowance in a one ounce serving.

Health Reason #5) Healthy Digestive System

The fiber found in sunflower seed kernels helps to keep the digestive system regular and healthy. A deficiency in fiber can cause irregularity and constipation. A healthy digestive system allows the body to absorb nutrients more effectively and keeps the body running smoothly.

Incorporating Sunflower Seeds Into a Healthy Diet

Sunflower seeds are not known to trigger allergic reactions and are usually safe for anyone to enjoy. There are many ways to incorporate this healthy seed into a regular diet.

- As a snack. Often sunflower seeds can be purchased already shelled, but shelling the kernels by hand is a great way for dieters or someone who is quitting smoking or another bad habit to do to pass the time and only consume a small amount of calories.
- Added to a salad. As a topping for a green salad or incorporated into a tuna or chicken salad recipe to add some crunch.
- Baked into bread.
- Sprinkled into cereal and granolas.
- Ground into a sunflower butter to replace peanut butter for those who have peanut allergies.

Buying and Storing

Sunflower seeds are available year round at most grocers and can be purchased prepackaged or in bulk bins. With their high fat content they can spoil and it is best to store them in a refrigerator, preferably in an air tight container. They can also be frozen for longer storage. Seeds that are yellowish or soft have gone bad and should not be consumed.
John Grant is a professional blogger and printed writer on many subjects relating to the importance of balanced diets. He also writes on the nutritional importance of many natural foods available on the market and is currently traveling around many countries for further research into abundant food products that can offer more healthy diet requirements such as nut recipes of the sunflower seed.