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Sunflowers are one of the first plants to ever be cultivated in the United States. The Native Americans have used them for more than 5,000 years. Today, the leading commercial producers of sunflower seeds include the Russia, Peru, Argentina, Spain, France and China.

Sunflower seeds are a rich source of essential fatty acids (healthy unsaturated fats), proteins, fiber and nutrients such as vitamin E and B, phosphorus, copper, manganese, folate, iron, zinc, selenium and amino acids. Sunflower seeds contain plant compounds such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, which are powerful antioxidants.

Proteins and fibers make us feel full for a long time, reduce our food intake and finally reduce the number of calories consumed. This helps in reduction of weight. Fiber-rich foods improve the digestive system and intestinal health as well as regulate digestion and absorption of food. Sunflower seeds are a source of many vitamins and minerals that can support immune system. The protein, B vitamins and selenium present in seeds help boost the body’s energy levels. These seeds contain vitamin E, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium. Magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. These seeds contain vitamin B6, which improves mood and concentration and enhances memory. Zinc helps to develop and maintain proper function of immune cells. Additionally, it functions as an antioxidant to fight off free radicals. Selenium plays a role in fighting inflammation and infection, along with boosting immunity. This mineral is an important part of achieving mental health and preventing neurodegenerative disorders (like Alzheimer’s) as well. Niacin present in sunflower seeds reduces total cholesterol levels and risk of heart diseases.

Antibacterial and antifungal activity of these seeds also prevents infections, thus keeping skin clear. Oleic and linoleic acids, present in sunflower seeds help in the formation of collagen and elastin, speeding up wound healing.

The seeds can be spread on salads, soups, breads and pastries or mixed with vegetables and snacks. This seed is also used to prepare vegetable burgers. Since sunflower seeds have a high fat content and are prone to rancidity, it is best to store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.