Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
This plant, which is a ubiquitous crop with abundant nutrients and biological activities, is a large annual crop of the genus Helianthus, grown as a cash crop for its edible oil and fruits. Helianthus annuus is used in livestock feeds and for feeding birds. It is also used in industrial applications and as an ornamental plant due to its bright colored flowers.
Sunflower can grow to a height of 2 meter. The inside of the bright yellow flower is divided into two parts; the inside is the cluster of flowers which turn into seeds when the plant is almost done for the season, while the outside are protective leaves.
Types Of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are of two types: Black oil sunflower seeds and confection sunflower seeds. The black oil sunflower seeds are grown for oil production and also for livestock and birds feeds. Sunflower black seed oil possesses low saturated fats but contains high unsaturated fats. It doesn’t have strong taste, and is growing in popularity due to its medicinal values such as in cardiac health.
Confection flower seeds are largely gray with black stripes. They are commonly sold for snacks either in the shell, roasted, or shelled for salads and baking. While numerous varieties of sunflower are used for confection seeds, black seed sunflowers are grown for black oil seeds.
What Are The Nutritional Content Of Black Oil Sunflower Seeds?
The black seeds of sunflowers are packed with abundant unsaturated fatty acids, among which the most prominent are Oleic and linoleic acids. There is also the presence of palmitic and palmitoleic acids. Aside the fatty acids content, sunflower black seeds also possess a great quantity of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins B, C, and E. It also contains folate, magnesium, iron and copper.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Black Oil Sunflower Seed
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds Improves Your Heart Health
Arteriosclerosis is one of the risk factors of cardiac arrest and this is caused by excess consumption of saturated fatty acids, otherwise known as bad fats. Saturated fatty acids are the components of LDL-cholesterol, and have been associated with the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. Surprisingly, sunflower seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are recommended for dietary consumption as it reverses the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases caused by saturated fatty acids.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are the components of high density lipoproteins, which are good fats. High density lipoprotein mops up low density lipoprotein from the arterial walls, thereby preventing the formation of plaques on the wall and possible narrowing of the blood vessels. When low density lipoproteins are deposited on the blood vessel’s wall, they form plaques and cause a blockage of the arterial wall, leading to increased blood pressure and possible ischemic stroke and cardiac arrest.
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds Improve Sperm Production And Motility
Reactive oxygen species and increased Ca2+ has been implicated in low sperm count and poor viability of sperm cells in humans. But studies has shown that tocopherols, which are strong antioxidants reverses this effect by suppressing Ca2+ concentration as well inhibiting lipid peroxidation and release of reactive oxygen species. Luckily, black oil sunflower seed is highly packed with tocopherols.
Another compound, folate has been associated with sperm count and male fertility. Folate deficiency is associated with indicators of reduced male fertility. For example, low folate in seminal plasma is correlated with decreased sperm counts and increased sperm DNA damage in humans.
Since black oil sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and Folate contents, they naturally make black oil sunflower seeds important dietary supplement for improving fertility in men.
Read also: 5 amazing natural foods that boost penile erection and increase libido in men
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds Are Good For Pregnant Women
Pregnant women would find the black seeds of sunflower very helpful. The high content of folate and vitamin E improves the fetal health as well as that of the mother. Folate intake is required for rapid cell proliferation and tissue growth of the uterus and placenta. Also, vitamin E intake may help reduce the risk of complications associated with oxidative stress, such as pre-eclampsia. Studies have shown that adequate intake of vitamin E during pregnancy reduces the chance your baby developing asthma and other respiratory issues. However, excessive intake of Vitamin e may lead to high levels of bilirubin as Vitamin E has an impact on blood clotting in fetus.
Black Oil Sunflower Seed May Lower Your Cholesterol Level
One of the major cause of cardiovascular diseases is bad cholesterol such as total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, VLDL-cholesterol, when there serum and plasma levels are high. These bad cholesterols form plaques on the arterial walls of blood vessels. When more plaques are being deposited, they lead to blockage of the blood vessel and increased blood pressure.
The high polyunsaturated, monounsaturated fatty acids and protein present in black oil sunflower seeds prevent various cardiovascular disorder and increase the level of HDL-cholesterol. HDL clears LDL from circulation in the blood and so reduces your risk of experiencing myocardial infarction.
Read also: Why you should make zobo drink a daily routine
They Are Good For Reducing Stress And Depression
The seeds of sunflower contain Tryptophan and Choline which eases stress, anxiety and depression. Choline is a precursor of acetylcholine which is a neurotransmitter that plays important roles in regulating mood and intelligence. Tryptophan on the other hand I used by the body to produce melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin helps in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, while serotonin regulates appetite, sleep, mood, and pain.
They Improve Your Brain Function And Memory
The choline and tryptophan present in the black oil sunflower seeds are helpful in maintaining the functions of the brain and in retaining memory. As mentioned above, choline plays important roles in intelligence and memory retention.
They Prevent The Risk of Cancer Development
Sunflower seeds, according studies, are rich source of phytosterols, which may serve as preventive measures for breast cancer. One of the phytosterols and the most abundant of all, is β-Sitosterol. β-Sitosterol has been shown severally to inhibit the growth of several types of tumor cells in vitro and decreases the size and extent of tumor metastasis in vivo as well. Half a spoon of the seeds of sunflower is going to prevent you from the risks of cancers.
Selenium is another important constituent of sunflower seeds. It is incorporated at the active site of many proteins, including glutathione peroxides. Due to its antioxidant properties, selenium has been found to decrease the risk of prostate cancer.
Helps In Protecting Your Skin From Skin Diseases
Sunflower seed oil is used in the treatment of atopic dermatitis due to enhancement of epidermal lipid synthesis and reduction of inflammation. In an in vitro analysis, the mechanism of action of sunflower oil is attributed to activation of peroxisome proliferative-activated receptor-alpha, which stimulates keratinocyte differentiation improve barrier function, and enhance lipid metabolism in the skin.
Application of sunflower topically on the skin protects it from infection and improved hydration.
They Are Strong Antioxidants
One of the root causes of several autoimmune diseases is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes an increased level of free radicals in the body systems. Aging has also being associated with oxidative stress. There has been an increasing focus on elongating human life, while some are focused on immortalization of human body. To achieve these, free radicals such as reactive oxygen species, must be reduced to the barest level in the body. This can only be achieved by increasing the antioxidant compounds in the circulatory system. Luckily, black oil sunflower seeds are rich in strong antioxidants.
When therefore you eat the seeds, you reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases and maintain a youthful glowing body.
They Possess Antibacterial And Antifungal Compounds
The seeds of sunflower have been used in alternative medicine in treating bacterial and fungal infections. In industrial scale, the oil of sunflowers can be used in preserving food products from potential yeast spoilage.
May Be Employed In Managing Asthma
One important role of magnesium is in maintaining the nerve and muscle tone in the body. Luckily, sunflower seeds contain substantial amount of magnesium, which predict their potential usefulness in bronchial asthma, muscle cramps, hypertension, and migraine treatments.
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds May Boost Your Immune System
Sunflower seeds possess significant amount of Zinc, a mineral which boost immune system, fights against viral invasion and proliferation of viral RNAs. Folate on the order hands is involved in the formation of DNA, RNA, and hemoglobin. Tryptophan and choline present on sunflower seeds are useful in reducing stress , anxiety and depression and memory enhancement.
Awad AB, Chinnam M, Fink CS, Bradford PG. (2007) Beta-Sitosterol activates Fas signaling in human breast cancer cells. Phytomedicine;14(11):747-54.
B.G. Swayne, A. Kawata, N.A. Behan, A. Williams, M.G. Wade, A.J. Macfarlane, C.L. Yauk. Investigating the effects of dietary folic acid on sperm count, DNA damage and mutation in BALB/C mice Mutat. Res., 737 (2012), pp. 1-7
Matorras, J. Perez-Sanz, B. Corcóstegui, P.R. Irantzu, I. Malaina, S. Quevedo, et al.Effect of vitamin E administration to the males from infertile couples on sperm and ART outcome: a double-blind randomized study F S Rep, 1 (2020), pp. 219-226
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Lopez Perez G, Torres Altamirano M.(2006) Indications for sunflower oil concentrate in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Rev Alerg Mex;53(6):217-25.
Sunflower seeds nutritional information available at www.nutritiondata.self.com