Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seedsSunflower seeds make a perfect and healthy snack. Their use is very versatile and their mild nutty taste gives many dishes an extra flavour. Whether you want to add them to your breakfast, have them as a snack or sprinkle them over your salad, sunflower seeds are delicious. They are full of healthy nutrients and they provide multiple health benefits.

Description

Sunflower seeds grow in the centre of the sunflower and the seeds are considered to be a gift of this flower. The scientific name of the sunflower is Helianthus annuus. The first part of its scientific name originates from the Greek term helios, which means sun. The second part of the name comes from the Greek word Anthos, which means flower. The sunflower produced seeds which have a tear-dropped shape. These seeds usually have a black or grey shell. The shell often features black and white stripes. In order to obtain the seeds, you need to break the shell. Since the shell is rather soft, most people break the shell with their teeth. The seeds have a high oil content. Thus, this means that they are a source of polyunsaturated oils. Sunflower seeds have a nutty taste are they have a firm but tender texture. The taste of sunflower seeds is sometimes compared to the taste of Jerusalem artichokes. This should not be confused with the artichokes which are bulb. Jerusalem artichokes are also a member of the Helianthus family. Moreover, sunflower seeds are a rich source of many vital nutrients. One of these nutrients is vitamin E. This vitamin is often found in nuts and seeds. Vitamin E is known for its antioxidant properties and fights free radical components in the body.

History

Although it was originally thought that sunflower seeds were native to Mexico and Peru, the seeds are actually native to North America. Evidence suggests that they were the first plants to be cultivated in the United Sates. Sunflower seeds were cultivated and used by Native Americans. Native Americans did not only use the sunflower seeds, but also used the stems, roots and the flower itself. The seeds were used to make oil and was used for cooking. The other parts of the sunflower had different purposes. One of the purposes was that it was used as a dye pigment. Sunflower seeds were first introduced in Europe by Spanish explorers. Once they had been introduced in Spain, sunflowers quickly spread to neighbouring countries such as France and Portugal. Sunflower oil is currently one of the most used oils in the world. It is used by individual households as well as by top-chefs in culinary restaurants. Some of the main commercial producers of sunflowers are China, Spain, Argentina, Russia and Peru.

Cancer prevention

Various studies have analysed the relation between sunflower seeds and their ability to prevent cancer. Sunflower seeds can help to prevent cancer when they are added to a high-nutrient diet. A high-nutrient diet usually consists of minerals, vitamins and a range of antioxidants. A combination of these nutrients can help to reduce oxidative stress in the body. When oxidative stress is left uncontrolled in the body, it can contribute to the development of cancer cells. A study which was conducted by Dr. Donaldson and published in the Nutrition Journal shows that sunflower seeds also have a chemo preventive components. This implies that these components can help to shut off the growth of cancer cells in the early phases of development. Another way sunflower seeds contribute to the prevention of cancer is by repairing DNA and slowing down the growth of mutated cancer cells. Thus, sunflower seeds contribute to the prevention of cancer, or its re-occurrence, in various ways. While vitamin E has been mentioned earlier in this article, it has also been linked to the prevention of cancer. A study conducted by the Texas Woman’s University suggests that vitamin E protects men from prostate cancer and can also help to reduce the risk of lung cancer. Another component which is often mentioned with regards to the prevention of breast cancer is selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant which helps with DNA repair. It also helps the body to get rid of damaged cells and those cells which can cause harm to the body. Another role of selenium is to help the body stop the growth of tumour cells through apoptosis. Apoptosis can be considered to be the self-destruction of harmful cells by the body itself.


Balance of blood sugar levels

A diet which is rich in nutrients and contains various types of nuts and seeds has been shown to contribute to a balance of blood sugar levels. A diet rich of various healthy nutrients decreases the chance of diabetes or resistance against insulin. Moreover, it also reduces the risk of developing other form of metabolic syndromes. The studies which have concluded these findings have studied the diets of various populations. As part of their tradition, these populations eat high amounts of seeds and nuts and therefore are not exposed to disease which relate to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels which are unbalanced can eventually lead to weight gain and inflammation. Autoimmune responses are also mentioned as a result of unbalanced sugar levels. However, the regular consumption of sunflower seeds can help to prevent the imbalance of blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, imbalanced blood sugar levels are becoming a more common problem. This is due to the fact that people are consuming sweetened beverages, processed foods and refined grains more often compared to the past. Communities which are not exposed to Western food consumption behaviours show less problems related to their blood sugar levels. Besides the fact that they do not consume the above-mentioned products, their diet usually consists of fresh food and includes nuts and seeds.

How to select and store

Sunflower seeds are usually sold with their shells or without their shells. They are usually sold pre-packaged, and can also be purchased in bulk bins. There are a few things you should pay attention to when buying sunflower seeds. When buying the seeds, make sure that the package does not contain any small hole. It should also not be damaged. When the packaging is damaged, it might have been possible for the unshelled seeds to be exposed to oxygen. It is not a big problem for the seeds to be exposed to oxygen for a short time. However, if the seeds are exposed to oxygen for a long period of time, the seeds might dry out and will lose their taste. Also, make sure the store has a good product turnover. In this way you will know for sure that the maximal freshness of the seeds is guaranteed. When buying seeds with their shells, it is important to make sure that the shells are not dirty or damaged. Also, they need to be firm. If the shells are not firm, it usually means they are old or have been in contact with a humid environment. It is also important to pay attention to the colour of the shells. Make sure that you do not buy those sunflower seeds which have a yellow colour. When the shells are yellow, this usually means that the seeds will soon go bad. It can also help to smell the sunflower seeds. The smell of the seeds will give you an idea of whether the seeds are still fresh or whether they have gone bad. Since the seeds have a high fat content, it is often recommended to store the seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It is also possible to store the seeds in the freezer. Put them in an airtight container and you will be able to store them for up to twelve months. The cold temperature will not affect the flavour or texture of the seeds.

Culinary use of sunflower seeds

There are different ways to add sunflower seeds to your diet. This section will give you some tips on how you can easily add these nutrient-packed seeds to your diet. If you like to make homemade burgers, try adding sunflower seeds to your burgers. You can also add them to meatballs or meatloaves. They will not only give an extra crunch to your meal, but also add healthy nutrients to the dish. As mentioned earlier, it is also possible to add the seeds to a salad. You can also mix them with other nuts or croutons and put them on the table when having prepared a salad. Similarly to the homemade burger, the seeds will provide an extra crunch to your salad. It is also possible to add the seeds to a salmon or tuna salad. The seeds will provide texture to the salads and are delicious with a slice of wholegrain bread. Sunflower seeds can now also be bought in the form of butter. You can spread the sunflower seed butter on your toast as a substitute for peanut butter or chocolate spread. You can also add sunflower seeds to your smoothie. Add them to a mix of strawberries, bananas, raspberries and yoghurt. Besides the fact that the smoothie is delicious, this morning energy boost provides you with all the necessary nutrients for the rest of the day. You can also add the seeds to any baked goods. For example, you can add them to breads, scones or muffins. Furthermore, there are many healthy snack ideas on the internet. Add a tablespoon of sunflower seeds to your favourite healthy snack. Sunflower seeds usually have a thin shell besides the black and white shell. In order to remove this shell you can put them in a blender or in a food processor in order for them to be milled. This is similar to how one can mill flax seeds. If you then want to get rid of thin shells, you can pour water over the sunflower seeds. The thin shells will float to the top of the glass or bowl and you will be able to get rid of the thin shells easily. Then continue to dry the seeds. You can then put them in an airtight container and store them in the way you want, either in the refrigerator or in the freezer.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1202x
Added: 27-10-2016 18:22
Last modified: 18-11-2016 22:55

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