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Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seed is a great snack food with a mild nutty flavor, that come ready to eat from the beautiful yellow sunflower. They are rich in vital nutrients that help you body stay healthy. Sunflower seed is one part of the LSA nut and seed mix that is a great addition to your everyday breakfast, baking and cooking.

Sunflower Seeds
The thermal nature is warming.
The flavour is .
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What it is

The sunflower seed is the seed from the center of the beautiful large bright yellow sunflower.  The sunflower produces seeds that range in color from black to grey-green or even with light color stripes. The edible part of the sunflower seed is referred to as the sunflower kernel, which has very high oil content. It is for this reason that they are one of the main sources in the production of polyunsaturated oil.

The shelled sunflower seed, the kernel, has a mild and nutty flavor and a firm but tender texture.

Sunflower seed were one of the first plants to be cultivated in the United States. Native Americans have grown them for over 5000 years although they are thought to have come from Mexico and Peru. The Spanish took sunflower to Europe and today the seeds are eaten throughout the world with sunflower oil being one of the most widely used oils in the world today.


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What is in it

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, a very good source of vitamin B1 (thiamin) and a good source of manganese, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) selenium, copper and tryptophan.

The oil in sunflower seeds is a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (about 66% of the fat is linoleic fatty acid, omega 6 fatty acid).

The kernels also contain effective levels of fiber and protein and are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.


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What it is good for

• Assists the spleen-pancreas
• Lubricates the intestines
• Brings on the maturing of measles  - prepare as a tea
• Treats constipation caused by dryness
• Anti-inflammatory
• Benefits the heart and cardiovascular system
• Help lower cholesterol


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When you get it

Sunflower seeds can be found in markets all year around.


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Which to select

Sunflower seeds are usually sold shelled or unshelled, they can usually be bought packages or in bulk containers. For the freshest product buy seeds that are stored well in sealed airtight containers in markets or shops with good turnover. Be sure that there is no evidence of moisture of mold. 

When buying the whole unshelled seeds be sure that they are not broken or dirty, the shells should be firm, not soft of limp. If you buy the kernels, shelled seeds, avoid if they have turned a yellowish color as they may have gone rancid.

If you want seeds with a roasted flavor, buy seeds that have been dry roasted without oil and no other additives such as sugar or preservatives better still, roast your own.

Why Organic
Choose organically grown vegetables whenever possible. To eat organic means to live cleanly, free of pesticides and toxins. It is a conscious choice. One made in order to survive right along with the planet that sustains us. Organically grown foods do not over-run the landfills with toxic waste from their farming or subject your body to unhealthy toxins. For your health and for the planet, choose to eat organic foods. To understand more about why organic is better please read our “Why Organic?” special feature.


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Where to store

Because of the high fat content in sunflower seeds it is very important to store them well to stop them from becoming rancid. Store the whole seeds in a dark and cool place in a sealed container. Store hulled seeds in a sealed, airtight non-plastic container in the refrigerator. Heat and light speed oxidization

Do not store in plastic, oil rich foods combine with plastics to form plasticides.


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How to use

Eat nuts and seeds in moderation. 

Sunflower seeds go rancid rapidly because of the high polyunsaturated oil content. It is best to shell them just before eating.

There are many ways to remove the shells from the sunflower seeds. By hand is slow and requires concentration. The fastest way to remove the hulls is to grind the seeds in a mill or seed grinder and then put the ground seeds in water. The shells will float to the top and can easily be skimmed off. If you want the kernels whole, try added the seeds to a food processor and pulsing for short times, then put in cold water to separate the shells.

Roasting reduces the oiliness making the seeds and seeds easier to digest. Lightly roast at 160-170°f for 15 – 20 minutes, to preserve the healthy oils.

Sunflower seeds are the S in LSA (Linseed (flaxseed), Sunflower seed, Almond), a highly nutritious combination of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and other nutrients. LSA is a great addition to cereals, breads, cakes, muffins and even in stuffing for a roast dinner. 


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How much you need

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of food from across all the food groups. 

For an average person 
 
Servings per food group:
• Whole Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
• Meat and beans (Protein):  1 – 2 
• High quality fats: 1
• Dairy:     2 – 3
• Fruit: 2
• Vegetables: 5
• Water: 6

This list is of recommended daily amount of each food group for an average person 19 to 50 years old with a low level of exercise (30minutes of less a day). If you are older you may need a little less, if you are younger, a little more and if you are very active even more food should be eaten. For more information on serving sizes see our special feature on Sizing Up A Serve.

It is important to ensure that the foods that you eat are of a high quality. The highest quality product is one that is fresh, whole and organic.

Fresh – over time the quality of nutrients degrades with their potency dying off.

Whole – many foods, particularly vegetarian foods carry a lot of their nutrients in their outer skins. So leave bran, germs and skins on the food where possible; always with grains and whenever the fruit of vegetable permits.

Organic – ensure you have the cleanest food by using only foods that are grown without pesticides, or other chemicals, in a natural way as people have in all bar the last 80 years of history. Chemical burdened foods are a modern invention designed to increase output with little regard to the health of the end user.


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Things to watch out for

Eating too any nuts and seeds can cause problems with digestion, blemishes and pimples and can cause bad smelling flatulence.

People with signs of excess like a robust body and personality, ruddy complexion, thick tongue coating, strong voice and pulse should use most nuts and seeds little if at all.


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References

The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition, http://jn.nutrition.org, retrieved 02/2009.

Wikipedia, Sunflower Seed, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunflower_seed, retrieved 02/2009.

Prepared by the editors at Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals: What you need to know,  Harvard School of Public Health, 2008.

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)


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