THE SUNFLOWER, Helianthus annuus, belongs to the family Compositae. Many other useful plants belong to the sunflower family such as echinacea, lettuce, marigolds, dandelion, chicory, chrysanthemum peruvianum and thistle. The sunflower plant is 5-20 tall and it produces large brilliant yellow flowers and edible seeds. The sunflower head with its bright yellow petals radiating from a dark hub of seeds can reach up to 12 inches in diameter. This tall, rangy plant earned its name because its flowers resemble the sun and twist on their stems to follow the sun throughout day.
There are two types of sunflower seeds produced, oilseed and confectionary. Sunflower seeds can be dried or roasted and used as a medicine in world. Sunflower oil has cleansing properties; it is both a diuretic and an expectorant. Sunflower seeds are very rich in protein and in essential fatty acids. These nutrients are essential for the good health of the nerves, brain and eyes and for the general health. More than half a sunflower seed is made up of the valuable and highly nutritive Sunflower oil.
Sunflower seeds have the power to nourish the entire body. They are a rich source of easily digestible and assimilable protein which is essential for the repair of tissues, nerves, and cells. Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin D, B-complex, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E. Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, is an antioxidant that can protect cells from free-radical damage and aid in preventing heart disease, cancer, and eye degeneration such as cataracts.
Sunflower seeds are also high in selenium, magnesium, zinc, and iron which helps to strengthen the blood and immune system. They also contain lignans, phenolic acids, and tryptophan making them an ideal food to eat for those who are seeking better sleep and weight loss. Sunflower seeds have also been known to help prevent asthma, atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack, clogged arteries, and osteoarthritis. They contain no cholesterol and are very low in saturated fats making them highly beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Raw sunflower seeds also contain pectin which has the unique ability to bind to radioactive residues and remove them safely from the body.
Sunflower seeds can help to relieve sensitivity to light, eyestrain, and farsightedness. They also are highly beneficial for strengthening hair and nails. Raw sunflower seeds or sunflower seed butter are a healthy and nutrient rich snack that should be included into the diet for a wide range of benefits. Try grinding a cup or two of sunflower seeds in a food processor with some garlic, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. It creates a delicious nutty spread or dip that can help boost your immune system and fuel your body with real energy and nutrition. At present, sunflower seeds are used mainly to press cooking oil.
They are still favored in the confectionery and as bird feed. As in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds too are popular, tasty, low-fat snack item. Roasted and salted, they can be enjoyed as a healthy snack. They add crunchiness to salads. Sprinkle them over fried-rice dishes or sautéed vegetables. The seeds can be coated with chocolate, candied, or added in cakes, and muffins. The seeds can be added to salad dressings, casseroles or baked goods.
In Germany and other Central European regions, the flour made from the seeds is used in making dark bread, sonnen blumenbrot (sunflower bread). Including sunflower seeds in your daily diet regimen is very easy. Aside from eating seeds in raw form, you can just mix an ounce of the seeds in your cold or hot beverage or sprinkle them over salads and other food servings. You can even eat these with a sandwich, a bowl of oatmeal, breakfast cereal, or with a cup of non-dairy ice cream or yogurt.
Sunflower seeds can be added to meals by soaking them in water and then later on combining it with pureed soup. This not only fortifies the food with essential nutrients but it also adds a hint of flavor and nice texture to the food. There are numerous ways to get more sunflower seeds and thus consume more of the nutrients needed by the body. If we will increase the sunflower seed of state with art and technology, we can boost the sunflower seed industry in the world and attained more befits for human health also.