Do you love movies and popcorn? Do you know Israel and Turkey have sunflower seeds available at their movie halls as the snack of choice replacing popcorn, due to their nutrition and better taste? Surprised! Read on…
Sunflower seeds belong to that rare class of foods that are as healthy as they are delish. Due to no cholesterol content and cholesterol-fighting (phytosterols) they’re really good for the heart. In addition to that, they’re rich in fiber, minerals like zinc and calcium, iron for blood and also magnesium, selenium. Oh! and they have very high levels of Vitamins B and E. In fact, sunflower seeds are particularly a GREAT SOURCE OF VITAMIN E.
Phytosterol from sunflower seeds is known to make the immune system more robust, flush out toxins and reduce the risk of cancer, while also regulating the level of cholesterol in the blood stream thereby reducing chances of cardiac stroke.
The mineral selenium on the other hand acts as a catalyst in apoptosis – the self destructing mechanism of the body that sheds cancerous and abnormal cells growth. It also helps in DNA replication in various body repair mechanisms. Selenium isn’t abundantly available in common food types and the normal human intake of selenium is usually low. Having sunflower seeds, however, provides the body with ample selenium.
The scientific name of sunflowers is Helianthus annuus, latin for flower of the sun. Scientifically, sunflower seeds aren’t actually seeds, they belong to the set achenes – edible fruits of flowers in the shape of seeds where the fruit inside does not adhere to the outer covering.
Sunflowers grow throughout the year. Each sunflower consists of about 1000 to 2000 seeds and it takes about 3 months for a sunflower to mature. There are three kinds of sunflower seeds – black oil, striped and white. White seeds have not found much commercial use as yet.
If you like variety in your snacks then you can choose from a wide range of sunflower seeds – roasted, unroasted, salted, unsalted, with the kernel or without it, spiced, chocolate covered, mint covered, barbecued, honey roasted or sprouted! This healthy delicacy of a snack can be served up in innumerable ways.
You can also use sunflower seeds to garnish your salads and main courses, it gels with all kinds of food, bitter, sour, sweet, and salted. Sunflower seeds are also used to make sunflower seed butter, much like peanut better except its a lot more healthier.
Most South East Asian countries use sunflower oil to cook (as most of their food is made in oil) because it is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and has a very low risk of cardiac strokes even when used daily. Lots of other countries are following suit these days. Processed sunflower oil is made into margarine’s and used instead of butter. The residual content once the oil is squeezed from the seeds is used as feed for livestock.
Speaking of which, birds love sunflower seeds! Planting a few in your garden/farm is the easiest way to attract birds. Sunflower seeds make for good feed for livestock too.
Hope you enjoyed our sunflower seed fun facts, but feel free to share your own in the comment area. Cheers!