Sunflower seeds are derived from the pod of sunflower after the petals have fallen. These seeds need to be dried and only then can they be of any use. These seeds are often used as snacks, much akin to peanuts and are believed to have a nutty taste. People all over the world eat the inside of the seeds kernel as food. These seeds are often commercially sold according to the color and marking of their kernel. Sunflower seeds have been used since centuries and have become an essential part of many people's daily diet.
Uses of Sunflower Seeds
#1 Sunflower Oil
Sunflower seeds are crushed and pressed so as to extract its rich oil. This oil is used for cooking purposes and was first introduced by the Russian Empire in 1835. Since then it has also been used for making sunflower oil and butter. This oil is rich in vitamin E but does not contain any proteins and carbohydrates. Another big advantage is that sunflower oil is low in saturated fats and exceptionally high in polyunsaturated fats or fatty acids, thus making it good for health and especially for the heart.
#2 Cooking and Seasoning
I have rarely heard people asking whether, sunflower seeds are bad for health, unless they are allergic to them. People all over the world have been using sunflower seeds since centuries. These seeds have become an integral part of cooking and are often used as garnishing and toppings in various cuisines. These seeds are used for desserts as well as baked recipes and are often mixed with salads to add some bit of crunchiness to the meal. Many people prefer having sunflower seeds along with their breakfast cereal. While many bake cakes and bread with sunflower seeds either mixed with the batter or as toppings on the bread. Many people enjoy eating sunflower seeds as snacks, much like nuts. These seeds are often roasted and sold at street corners.
New initiatives are being taken to use sunflower oil in order to make biodiesel, which is a clean fuel alternative. Sunflower oil is being experimented upon, so as to be used as a modern source of renewable energy in the form of fuel which can be used for home use. The only downside to using sunflower oil is that it is comparatively more expensive than canola and soybean oils, which makes it a less popular choice among the larger public. However, the upside to this oil is that these plants give out a yield of 600 pounds of oil per acre which is 100 pounds more than the others.
#4 Biomass Fuel
It's the inside part of the kernel which is edible, while the skin or the husk is usually discarded. However a few people, do use the husk, hull or shell for using as biomass fuel. They burn the hull in order to do so.
#5 Cosmetic Products
The oil from sunflower seeds has been used as a moisturizing oil and is excellent for creating resistance against skin infections. Since this oil has amazing anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, it keeps the skin shielded and nourished because of its high vitamin E content. Simply eating the seeds will help improve the skin and does not require that you specifically apply the oil or cosmetic products on your skin. Since vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant it helps replenish the skin through greater supply of oxygen and blood circulation. There are many cosmetic companies who make beauty products using sunflower extracts.
#6 Pet Food
Sunflower seeds are also used for preparing pet food for dogs and birds. People feed these seeds to their pet birds, and many cook the seeds along with the dog's grub so that it is easier to digest. Many companies sell pet food brands, which include sunflower seeds in them.
#7 Cattle Feed
Once the oil has been extracted from the seeds, a rich paste is left behind. This paste is rich in proteins and is often mixed with regular feed and given to all types of livestock.
Medicinal Uses of Sunflower Seeds
- Sunflower seeds contain phytosterols which help in fighting cholesterol by lowering it. It also helps reduce chest pain, heartburn, and cardiovascular problems such as atherosclerosis by preventing the cholesterol from collecting.
- The anti-inflammatory properties of sunflower seeds and its high magnesium content help in alleviating health conditions such as asthma, rheumatic arthritis and osteoporosis.
- It is good for preventing worms in the intestines.
- These seeds act as diuretics, which is why it has been used since generations by women to reduce water retention and swelling in the body.
- It is good for improving eyesight.
- It helps reduce high blood pressure because these seeds have low sodium content.
- The greatest health benefits of sunflower seeds is that, these seeds contain selenium, which is a trace mineral. It has been proven that selenium can help create resistance against most forms of cancer.
- It is good for digestion and prevents constipation. However if eaten in excess, it can upset your stomach.
Sunflower seeds are rich in almost all types of essential vitamins and minerals. There is a bit of everything nice in these little wonders, which is why perhaps they have become such a universal favorite. Hopefully now you know, about the various uses of sunflower seeds and how great they are for us.