Happy Monday! If you’ve been following me for a while now you know that there’s nothing I love more than a quick and easily solution to adding a little health and wellness to your life each day. I’m always reminding my clients, friends and family that making small changes to your everyday routine can really yield big results. So today, I’m here with news on how you can add a nutritional punch to your everyday snacks and meals.
Sunflower Seeds. I don’t know about you but when I think about sunflower seeds I think baseball. Since the 1950’s we’ve seen countless baseball players chewing (and spitting) those sunflower seeds all game long. Did they know something we didn’t?? I’m not sure if they were aware of just how healthy that habit of theirs was, but what I do know is that these tiny super-seeds offer a tremendous variety of health benefits. That sure sounds like a homerun to me!
Sunflowers in their entirety have been used for more than 5,000 years by Native Americans. They used the flowers, roots and stems for varied purposes including as a dye pigment but they learned very quickly that the seeds of the sunflower were an excellent food and oil source, offering a wealth of nutritional and healing benefits.
Ranking among the top 10 sources for many nutrients such as Copper, Selenium, Vitamin E and more, eating sunflower seeds provides the following amazing health benefits:
Helps improve cholesterol levels: Sunflower seeds are a rich source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats reduce LDL levels (the bad cholesterol), a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Sunflower seeds are also rich in fiber which also helps reduce total cholesterol.
Promotes healthy detoxification: Sunflower seeds are a great source of selenium – an important mineral assisting in the removal of waste material from the body and playing a role in many healthy biological processes. Selenium helps maintain one of our body’s strongest natural anti-oxidant: glutathione, which protects the liver from the toxic effects of the metabolism of waste. Selenium may also help stimulate repair of cells damaged by the action of toxins.
Helps manage hypertension: Sunflower seeds contain essential minerals that help regulate blood pressure: calcium, potassium and magnesium. These minerals play a beneficial role in keeping blood pressure in the normal range. Potassium counter-acts sodium and dilates – relaxes blood vessels. Magnesium promotes calcium function in cells, and together both improve blood vessel flexibility so lowering blood pressure.
Helps control blood sugar: Sunflower seeds are loaded with my favorite…fiber! This helps slow down the absorption of dietary sugar into the blood preventing blood sugar spikes. Magnesium helps to improve insulin function – insulin keeps blood sugar levels low and controlled. This combination results in improved blood glucose control for many who eat sunflower seeds.
Provides anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits: Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E. We know that vitamin E can aid in keeping our skin looking youthful but what you might not know is that vitamin E has significant anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis – conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a central role. Vitamin E may also reduce the risk of colon cancer, help decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in menopause, and help reduce the development of diabetic complications.
Additionally, vitamin E plays an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin E is a key antioxidant helping stabilize cholesterol preventing it from clogging arteries and so helping prevent heart attacks and stroke. Getting plenty of vitamin E can significantly reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
Promotes good mood and better sleep: Sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium which improves brain levels of serotonin and elevates our mood. Magnesium also helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Sunflower seeds are also rich in the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor of dopamine that promotes restful sleep and relaxation at night.
Provides a great source of protein: Protein is essential for health as repair and regeneration of cells depends on it. Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of protein containing as much as 40% of your recommended daily intake in a single 100g serving!
Aids in weight-loss: Sunflower seeds are rich in both fiber and the B vitamins which both help with weight-loss. Fiber adds bulk in the stomach keeping you full for longer, while the B vitamins help to aid efficient digestion. Both of these help in the weight loss process and can help keep energy levels high while calories are decreased.
Sold yet? Recently, I’ve been loving adding sunflower seeds to my salads. Just this past week, I made a delicious smoky lentil salad and topped it with roasted sunflower seeds.It was super filling, nutritious, and delicious.
If you’re looking for a quick snack, try putting some sunflower seeds in your trail mix or add some sunflower seeds to your favorite hummus and enjoy with cucumbers.
I also like adding some crunch to my favorite tuna or chicken salad recipes and even topping my eggs with them in the morning!
Sunflower seeds are easily accessible and are found at almost every local supermarket. They are sold both shelled and unshelled, in packages with other seeds and nuts or in the bulk section of your grocery store. Always make sure you are purchasing unsalted sunflower seeds, no need to add unnecessary amounts of sodium to your meals. Store them in the refrigerator in an air tight container.
Before I sign off, I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes from around the web that include sunflower seeds:
Sunflower Lentil Spread: https://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000002002216,00.html
Sunflower Seed Risotto: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sunflower-seed-risotto
I encourage you to take the nutrition in your everyday recipes up a notch and purchase some of these super-seeds. Whether you add them to some of your main meals or reach for them in times of hunger instead of the junk, I promise you’ll get a lot of “nutritional bang” for very little “buck”. Stay well! Xx Janine