Sunflower seeds are greenish-grey or black seeds that are produced by the flower in tear-drop shaped black or grey shells. They have high oil content and are one of the most major sources of polyunsaturated oils.
They also contain good fat and muscle building proteins that decrease inflammation and lower cholesterol. The plant-based, protein supplement, usually sold in powder form, is derived from sunflower seeds via carbon-dioxide extraction and has a pleasant, nutty taste. Sunflower protein powder is becoming increasingly popular as a powdered sports supplement. It is chock full of proteins, but did you know that it has other essential minerals and vitamins that are equally beneficial to your body?
Why should you include sunflower protein in your diet?
A spoonful of sunflower protein powder is enough to take care of your hunger, while enhancing your health with significant amounts of magnesium, vitamin E and selenium. Sunflower protein, as a supplement, is a great way for vegans or vegetarians to add a natural dairy, lactose-free, convenient protein source to their diet. 100% pure sunflower protein will contain all the nine essential amino acids.
• Anti-inflammatory benefits from vitamin E – Vitamin E is the main fat-soluble anti-oxidant in the body. It neutralises free radicals which damage fat-containing molecules and structures like cell membranes, cholesterol and brain cells. Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory effects that helps combat symptoms for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis .
• Cardiovascular benefits – It is one of the main oxidants found in cholesterol particles and helps in preventing free radicals from oxidising the cholesterol . Cholesterol sticks to the walls of blood vessels only after undergoing oxidation, leading to heart attack, blocked arteries or stroke.
• Phytosterol lowers cholesterol levels – Structurally similar to cholesterol, phytosterol helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels , increase the immune response and allay the risk of certain cancers. Their beneficial effects are so significant that they have been extracted from corn, soybean, and pine tree oil before being added to processed foods which are marketed as cholesterol lowering foods. Sunflower seeds are rich in phytosterols.
• Magnesium calms the muscles, nerves and blood vessels – A number of studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps lower the blood pressure, reduce the intensity of asthmatic attacks, and prevent migraine headaches apart from reducing the risk of stroke and heart attacks. It is also necessary for healthy bones.
Over 65 percent of the magnesium in the body is found in bones. Some of it give physical structure to the bones, whereas the rest is found on the surface for the body to draw upon as needed. Magnesium also counterbalances the level of calcium, thus regulating muscle and nerve tone. It even acts as a calcium channel blocker, preventing the entry of calcium into the nerve cell and keeping us relaxed . Insufficient magnesium in the diet can lead to muscle spasms, high blood pressure, fatigue and soreness.
• Selenium plays a major role in cancer prevention – Sunflower seeds are a good source of selenium, and studies have shown an inverse correlation between cancer incidence and selenium intake. It induces DNA repair and synthesis in cells that are damaged, inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells, and initiates their apoptosis (cell-suicide).
If you are looking for a lactose free way to increase your daily protein intake, sunflower protein powder is a great option. One serving of the powder has enough protein and fibre to make up for the deficiencies of your diet. It also has the daily recommended value of phosphorous and magnesium. It is a classic “superfood” and has all the nine essential amino acids. You can use it in smoothies, baked goods, dressings, sauces, spreads or any vegan/vegetarian dish in need of that extra protein.