For thousands of years, cultures all over the world have cultivated and eaten sunflower seeds. Harvested from tall sunflowers, the seeds can be eaten in many different ways; either raw or roasted in oil for tossing in salads. Many times they are enjoyed as a nutritious snack between meals, thus providing an energy boost in a convenient and portable packet. More nutritious than a pumpkin seed, a sunflower seed is full of minerals, vitamins and other nutrients.
Athletes eat the seeds because they are high in protein and carbohydrates, and both are fuels for maintaining energy levels while working out or competing. They are a great snack if you want quick energy, as they help the liver release glycogen (a form of sugar) into the blood stream. With the quick energy comes a calming effect as well. The sunflower plant seeds contain high levels of tryptophan, which is an amino acid that has a calming effect on the brain. Eating a diet balanced with protein and complex carbohydrates raises the level of tryptophan in the brain.
Sunflower seeds are veritable storehouses of the minerals magnesium, fluorine and phosphorus, calcium and iron. They contain abundant levels of protein, the B vitamins and more. Not only that, but they contain linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. For a snack that tastes great, gets you pumping and keeps you calm and collected, try the modest sunflower seed. It is the choice you should make. They are also rich in vitamin E, an elemental component of a healthy diet. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that destroys free radicals within the body. Because free radicals can cause cell damage, daily consumption of vitamin E is important. It is used to prevent and treat dementia, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Today, sunflower seeds are grown from France to Russia and back here in the United States too. As an important source of nutrition, ancient Native Americans cultivated them to supplement their diets. Even early American colonists snacked on them! Not only are the flowers beautiful to admire, they provide seeds that have a nutritious source of protein and carbohydrates that fuel energy to get you through that afternoon meeting or that run through the park. These simple seeds are a convenient, portable, tasty and nutritious snack any time of the day!