There are two main types of sunflower crops. One type is grown for the seeds you eat, while the other(which is the majority farmed ) is grown for the oil .
The sunflower seeds you eat are encased in inedible black-and-white striped shells, also called hulls. Those used for extracting sunflower oil have solid black shells.
Sunflower seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and a firm but tender texture. They’re often roasted to enhance the flavor, though you can also buy them raw.
The effects of sunflower seeds on blood sugar and type 2 diabetes have been tested in a few studies and seem promising, but more research is needed.
Studies suggest that people who eat 1 ounce (30 grams) of sunflower seeds daily as part of a healthy diet may reduce fasting blood sugar by about 10% within six months, compared to a healthy diet alone.
The blood-sugar-lowering effect of sunflower seeds may partially be due to the plant compound chlorogenic acid.
Studies also suggest that adding sunflower seeds to foods like bread may help decrease carbs’ effect on your blood sugar. The seeds’ protein and fat slow the rate at which your stomach empties, allowing a more gradual release of sugar from carbs
SOURCE OF VITAMIN E
Vitamin E is actually not a single compound but eight different compounds, all of which are fat soluble. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that boosts the immune system and may protect against certain diseases.
Your body primarily uses alpha-tocopherol, the form that is found in sunflower seeds. Alpha-tocopherol operates as an antioxidant, meaning that it combats oxidative damage in cells (Traber, 2015).
Vitamin E also protects the components of lipoproteins, which traffic fats throughout the body. Failure to get enough vitamin E can result in neurological problems, such as balance problems, lack of coordination, muscle weakness, and eye damage.
LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
Snacking on protein-rich, unsalted sunflower seeds may help lower your blood pressure. Recent research shows that a diet with ample amounts of vegetable protein, such as the protein found in sunflower seeds, may help keep blood pressure down. A diet high in animal protein offered no such benefit in the study. Stock up on sunflower seeds, cashews, and kidney beans to get your fill of blood pressure-lowering veggie protein.
Given the high fat content of sunflower seeds, they make an excellent source of this fat-soluble vitamin. Each quarter-cup serving of sunflower seeds provides 82% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
A compound in sunflower seeds blocks an enzyme that causes blood vessels to constrict. As a result, it may help your blood vessels relax, lowering your blood pressure. The magnesium in sunflower seeds helps reduce blood pressure levels as well.
Additionally, sunflower seeds are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. Your body uses linoleic acid to make a hormone-like compound that relaxes blood vessels, promoting lower blood pressure. This fatty acid also helps lower cholesterol.
EXHIBITS ANTI-INFLAMMATORY PROPERTIES
Sunflower and its oil and seeds are known for their anti-inflammatory effects as they contain active tocopherols (vitamin E), linoleic acid, linolenic acid, triterpenes, and miscellaneous polyphenolic compounds.
The flower, seeds, and seed oil may have a positive effect on inflammatory disorders as well. These include diabetes, arthritis, memory loss, gout, and cirrhosis.
High sugar levels can trigger inflammation. Fortunately, sunflower seeds have plenty of dietary fiber that slows down the nutrient absorption from food and prevents sugar spikes after a meal.
HOW TO EAT SUNFLOWER SEEDS
Sunflower seeds are truly versatile. You can eat them raw, dry roasted, or fried in butter. It is easy to hull them too.
Hulled raw sunflower seeds can be used in muffins, cookies, bread, and homemade granola and sprinkled on salads and cereal.
POINT TO NOTE
Eating a large number of sunflower seeds at once has occasionally resulted in fecal impaction or stool blockages, in both children and adults .Eating sunflower seeds in the shell may increase your odds of fecal impaction, as you may unintentionally eat shell fragments, which your body cannot digest.
An impaction may leave you unable to have a bowel movement. Your doctor may need to remove the blockage while you’re under general anesthesia.
Besides being constipated due to the fecal impaction, you may leak liquid stool around the blockage and have abdominal pain and nausea, among other symptoms.