26 Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a great alternative to sugary or fatty snacks. They’re both filling and have a range of positive health benefits which makes them a great go-to for all your snacking habits. They also contain a number of fatty and amino acids as well as a wide range of vitamins and minerals to aid digestion.
What’s more, they also widely available and easy to get hold of which means it’s super easy to change your unhealthy snacking habits for something that’s much better for you. But you don’t just have to limit sunflower seeds to snacking; they’re also great in a number of recipes including smoothies, soups, salads or on top of granola or yogurt.
Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Strengthen Your Immune System
Because sunflower seeds have such a high concentration of zinc, they can really help to give your immune system a boost. A boosted immune system will mean you pick up fewer infections and viruses and will be more able to fight off any infections you do get as your immune system will be more able to fight the cause of illness. A stronger immune system will also mean that if you do become ill, you likely won’t be ill for too long as your body will be able to fight the cause of infection far quicker.
Vitamin B is known to be great at aiding stress relief and sunflower seeds are packed full of it!
A Healthy Nervous System
Helping to fight stress isn’t the only benefit of the high vitamin B content of sunflower seeds. Being so rich in this particular vitamin also means they’re great at helping to maintain a healthy nervous system. Your nervous system is the system that controls our movement and pain receptors, so having it function properly is highly important.
Healthy Heart and Cardiovascular System
Vitamin B isn’t the only vitamin that sunflower seeds are rich in, they also contain high levels of vitamin E, which has its own health benefits. Vitamin E is known to help improve and maintain the health of our hearts and cardiovascular system and reducing the risk of premature death due to cardiovascular diseases.
A quarter of a cup of sunflower seeds actually contains around sixty percent of your recommended daily requirement of vitamin E so they’re a great go-to if you’re looking to increase your intake. The high level of magnesium in sunflower seeds is also great for the heart.
A further benefit of the high vitamin E content of sunflower seeds is the effect they have on cell membranes. Vitamin E can help to protect the membranes of our body’s cells from swelling and redness which would otherwise lead to a number of different conditions, many of which could prove to be serious if not treated.
Improved Brain Function
Yet another benefit of the high vitamin E levels in sunflower seeds is the effect the vitamin has on the brain. Vitamin E is known to have a positive effect on the health of the brain largely due to its ability to protect against redness and swelling.
Reduce High Cholesterol Levels
Sunflower seeds contain a high level of what’s known as ‘phytosterols’ which act in a very similar way to the good cholesterol that our bodies need in order to function. By replicating the effects of this good cholesterol, sunflower seeds are able to reduce the build-up of bad cholesterol and help to maintain a healthy level of cholesterol.
High levels of cholesterol can lead to a number of health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks so by helping to reduce our cholesterol levels sunflower seeds are reducing our risk of a number of different health conditions.
Magnesium to Protect Muscles
As previously mentioned, sunflower seeds have high levels of magnesium which has a number of benefits for the body. The most prominent benefit that the high magnesium content provides is protection for your muscles. Your muscles and bones need a good level of magnesium in order to continue to function properly so sunflower seeds are great for maintaining strong bones and muscles.
Maintain a Healthy Thyroid
One of the lesser known health benefits of sunflower seeds is their ability to help maintain a healthy, working thyroid. Your thyroid produces a number of hormones which carry out a number of different roles within the body, the most widely recognized is the effect that then gland has on your metabolism and weight. Eating sunflower seeds can, therefore, help to regulate your thyroid and metabolism to help maintain a stable and healthy weight.
High Levels of Iron
Many people know that iron is crucial to the formation of healthy blood cells so it’s helpful to know that one of the major health benefits of sunflower seeds is their high iron content. By being high in iron, sunflower seeds help to tackle fatigue. They also help to maintain a positive cognitive function as a result of helping blood cells carry enough oxygen to the entirety of your body.
High Fiber Content
Sunflower seeds also contain plenty of fiber which means they’re great at helping to maintain regular bowel movements and decreasing your risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation. It also helps to make your stools softer which reduces the risk of damaging your rectum.
Teeth and Bone Maintenance
Being packed full of phosphorus means that sunflower seeds are great at maintaining the normal development of your bones and teeth. Stronger teeth are less likely to be at risk of wear, erosion, and decay which will help you maintain a great, confident, and healthy smile.
By providing the same kind of protection for your bones sunflower seeds can help to protect against osteoporosis which could otherwise lead to the development of brittle bones which are more at risk of fractures and breaks.
Protection Against Cancer
Recent studies suggest that eating sunflower seeds could help in the fight against cancer. This is due to their large concentration of antioxidants which help to prevent damage caused by oxidized cells. They also seem to contain specific compounds which can help to shut down tumor growth and block the development of cancer cells.
The antioxidants can help with the repairing of your DNA in damaged cells and slow down the growth of any mutated cells. The vitamin E and selenium content of sunflower seeds are also thought to be linked to their cancer-fighting powers, with vitamin E often recommended to help with the treatment of breast cancer patients.
Balance Out Your Blood Sugar
Because they’re high in fiber and magnesium, sunflowers seeds are great at balancing out blood sugar and reducing your risk of developing diabetes. They can also help to manage the symptoms of existing diabetes for the same reason.
The fiber they contain can help to prevent the spikes and drops in blood sugar levels that can come with diabetes and the magnesium is great for reducing your risk of developing type two diabetes.
Healthy, Glowing Skin
Having glowing, healthy-looking skin is often at the top of people’s wish lists when it comes to improving the way we look. If you’re one of those people, then sunflower seeds could be a great snack for you. Vitamin E is great for keeping your skin hydrated which helps to minimize damage from the sun of harsh weather. This, in turn, means that sunflower seeds can help your skin to look healthier, younger, and softer.
Prevents Damage Caused by Free Radicals
As we know, sunflower seeds are packed full of vitamin E which gives them a number of health benefits. One of these benefits is that vitamin E fat soluble and helps to neutralize cancer-causing free radicals.
By neutralizing these free radicals, the vitamin E released from munching on sunflower seeds can help to protect your brain cells, membranes and maintain healthy blood flow by maintaining the production of red blood cells.
In ancient Chinese medicines, sunflower seeds are used to help treat a chesty cough and congestion. This is because one of the chemicals contained within the seeds can help to protect against respiratory damage and a range of pathogens that affect your lungs.
Reduced Risk of Arthritis
One of the lesser known benefits of sunflower seeds is their ability to lessen the risk of developing arthritis. The oil contained within sunflower seeds can help to treat and prevent the development of arthritis by easing your joints.
Reduce Asthma Symptoms
Another of the great benefits provided by the oil within sunflower seeds is the ability to lessen the symptoms of asthma, as well as reducing the symptoms of a blocked nose of cold which could otherwise aggravate your asthma further.
The oil in sunflower seeds is a great source of vitamin A which is key to maintaining healthy eyes. It can help to reduce the risk of developing cataracts which can cause damage to your eye and even blindness if left untreated.
This particular health benefit of sunflower seeds comes from the high fatty-acid content in their oil. Fatty acids are known to have antibacterial qualities which can fight the bacteria that causes spots and zits to develop.
Promotes Thicker Hair and Hair Growth
The zinc in sunflower seeds can help to improve hair growth; although, too much of it can have the opposite effect and could actually lead to hair loss so it’s best not to over-do it! The vitamin E in sunflower seeds also promotes healthy blood flow to the scalp which is essential for good hair growth.
Prevent Grey Hairs from Forming
Because sunflower seeds are high in copper they can actually slow down one of the key signs of aging: grey hair! Copper is key in giving your hair its natural color (whatever your hair color is) and a lack of copper is often a key cause behind the greying of hair.
Reduced Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
Our old friend vitamin E can also help to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. This is largely due to its protection of the nervous system. By protecting the nerves, vitamin E stops the degeneration of your nervous system which would otherwise lead to the development of Parkinson’s symptoms such as difficulty moving and talking.
Improved Virility in Men
The zinc contained within sunflower seeds is crucial to male fertility as it improves sperm count and sperm motility meaning your sperm will be more productive.
Because sunflower seeds can be used to help reduce the effect of stress hormones, they can also help you drift off and relax a little more easily at night. They also contain a specific amino acid that helps promote healthy sleeping patterns.
Sunflower seeds clearly have a number of health benefits which can improve your health in a number of different ways. However, they also contain high levels of sodium which can lead to high blood pressure and kidney problems so as with most things, it’s best to enjoy them responsibly and not go overboard.