Sunflower seed, also known as surajmukhi ke beej, is the fruit of sunflower. The botanical name for sunflower is Helianthus annuus. The sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej have a dark coloured shell over it. When de-shelled, it has a lighter coloured oval shaped remainder inside, which is the edible portion. It is called as the sunflower kernel or heart. This sunflower kernel is packed with nutrition and popular for its health benefits. Based on the levels of mono-saturated, saturated and poly unsaturated fat content in them, they are categorized into 3 types:
- High linoleic
They are also categorized based on the colour of the husk or the outer shell. For example, if the outer shell in solid black in colour, it is called as black oil sunflower seed. These are commonly used to extract oil. Stripped sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej are generally used as food, and are popularly known as confectionery sunflower seeds.
The sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej are generally consumed as a snack. They are available commercially as de-shelled seeds or shelled seeds. Sometimes the sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej are sprouted and used for making salads. They are usually available as roasted and seasoned with salt and other flavours. De-shelling can be done by cracking the shell by pressing it between the teeth. Like peanut butter, sunflower butter is also available in the market.
Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds or Surajmukhi Ke Beej
Sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej in the recent past have gained a lot of popularity because of its high nutritional value. They are very healthy and are very filling as well. The health benefits of these sweet, crunchy, nutty seeds are summarized below:
- Cardiovascular Health Benefit of Sunflower Seeds or Surajmukhi Ke Beej: Daily consumption of sunflower seeds provides adequate amount of vitamin E to the body which in turn helps in reducing the risk of coronary diseases. Cholesterol on oxidation sticks to the blood vessel, causing them to become narrow, leading to blockage or arteriosclerosis. This can even cause heart attack or stroke. Vitamin E being an antioxidant prevents oxidation of cholesterol. In addition to vitamin E, sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej also contains vitamin c which is beneficial in preventing heart diseases.
- Sunflower Seeds or Surajmukhi ke Beej are Beneficial in Reducing Cholesterol: Sunflower seeds contains high amount of phytosterols, which are known for their cholesterol lowering properties. Sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej contain good fats (monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats), which help is controlling the bad cholesterol levels. These seeds are a rich source of fibres which aids in controlling hypercholesterolemia.
- Digestive System Benefits: High fibre content in sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej aids in easy digestion and bowel movements. It also helps in management of constipation.
- Anti-cancer Properties: Sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej contain vitamin E, selenium, copper, phytosterol and lignans, all of which inhibit the growth of cancer cells. The antioxidant properties prevent damage at cellular level, thus reducing the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer.
- Bone Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds or Surajmukhi Ke Beej: Magnesium found in sunflower seeds help in growth and development of bones. Copper helps in cross linkage between collagen and elastin, which provides strength and flexibility to the bones. Sunflower seeds also help in reducing the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis.
- Neurological & Mental Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds or Surajmukhi Ke Beej: Magnesium also helps in controlling the action of calcium during nerve conduction. They are also beneficial in conditions such as depression and anxiety. They aid in production of serotonin, which controls the mood. Another compound called choline found in sunflowers seeds, improves memory and cognitive behaviour. They also act as stress busters and have been found to be beneficial in migraines.
- Controls Hypertension: Potassium content in sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej helps in balancing sodium levels and thus helps is reducing the risk of hypertension.
- Source of Folic Acid: Folic acid or folate plays a vital role in growth and development. It is essential for the formation of new cells and production of DNA. It is an important vitamin during pregnancy for development of the baby.
- Sunflower Seeds or Surajmukhi Ke Beej as an Alternate Source of Protein: These seeds are a rich source of protein. This is beneficial among vegetarians and others who consume low amount of meat as it can include protein in their diet.
- Rich Source of Vitamin A: Sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej are rich in vitamin A and carotenoids that help in prevention of cataracts and other eye diseases.
Improves Immune System: Zinc and vitamin E in sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej help in improving the immunity of the individuals. This is particularly beneficial among infants and children in strengthening their immune system and preventing infections.
- Good for Skin Health: Sunflower seeds and oil are known to improve the quality and structure of skin. Sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej has anti-aging properties and free radicals which help in delaying aging. It helps in management of sun damage, sensitivity, wrinkles, environmental damage, acne etc. Sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej acts as a moisturizer and brings a glow on skin.
- Sunflower Seeds or Surajmukhi Ke Beej Prevents Hair Loss & Promotes Hair Growth: One of the benefits of sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke bee jis that it helps in preventing hair loss and helps in maintaining the vitality of hair. It promotes hair growth, delays greying and helps in maintaining shiny and healthy hair.
Nutritional Composition of Sunflower Seeds or Surajmukhi ke Beej
Vitamin A50 IU1.6%
|Parameter||Nutritional value||RDA Percentage|
|Total Fat||51.46 g||172%|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 %|
|Dietary Fibre||8.6 g||23%|
|Pantothenic acid||1.130 mg||22%|
|Vitamin E||35.17 mg||234%|
|Carotene- ß||30 µg||-|
|Crypto-xanthin – ß||0 µg||-|
|Lutein- zeaxanthin||0 µg||-|
Sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej is a highly nutritious food item making it a highly beneficial for the overall good health. It is rich in calories, good fat, protein, fibre, vitamin E, vitamin B1, copper, potassium, zinc and many other important minerals and compounds. They help in overall well-being of the person and have multiple benefits. It is advised to include sunflower seeds or surajmukhi ke beej in diet. Besides eating raw, it can be used in salads or in combination with other food products.