Sunflower seeds are one of the three most common edible seeds (the others are pumpkin, and sesame). They have a distinctive mild nutty taste and a firm texture.
A seed consists of an outer layer that covers stored food and the embryo of a new plant – in fact any legumes, nuts and grains are actually seeds.
The health benefits of Sunflower seeds make them a great addition to a balanced diet.
If you’ve ever taken a drive through farmland in the late summer you may have seen a field full of the beautiful golden sunflowers whose faces follow the sun across the sky.
Their seed-studded centre produces grey-green or black seeds encased in shells that oftentimes feature black and white stripes. The seeds have a very high oil content, they are the source of polyunsaturated sunflower oil.
Sunflowers are thought to have originated in Mexico and Peru, and may have been in use for more than 5,000 years. The Native Americans not only used the seeds as a food and an oil source, but also used the flowers, roots and stems for varied purposes including as a dye pigment. The Spaniards brought sunflowers back to Europe, where they were first grown in Spain. From here they spread into other neighbouring countries.
Currently, sunflower oil is one of the most popular oils in the world.
These seeds are some of the best sources of complete protein, minerals and vitamins, while also being rich in protein and polyunsaturated fat.
Sunflower seeds contain iron, B-complex vitamins, zinc and significant amounts of vitamin E, magnesium and selenium.
Studies show the seed’s anti inflammatory effects help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Just a quarter of a cup of sunflower seeds contains 90% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin E.
Combining legumes with whole grains. nuts and edible seeds provides a healthy balance of the essential amino acids (proteins) in a vegetarian diet.
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