Transform your morning meal into a nutritional powerhouse.
By Sarah-Jane Bedwell
(Photo: Christina Holmes)
The addition of just one ingredient can drastically change a dish’s flavor or texture. Think: chili powder for heat or cornstarch for creamy scrambled eggs. Same is true of the nutritional profile—one ingredient can take something that’s only so-so and turn it into a nutritional powerhouse.
That’s how the small-but-mighty sunflower seed is about to transform your granola. As the highest natural source of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, a ¼ cup serving provides nearly all of your daily recommended value. That same serving also provides 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber as well as other nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins. By adding just ¼ cup of seeds into your morning bowl of cereal or granola, your body can reap the rewards of these benefits.
Improve Skin Health
Since sunflower seeds contain such a high amount of the antioxidant vitamin E, they support skin health, keeping things smooth and soft— especially as we age—and protect against free-radical damage. Sunflower seeds also are a good source of healthy fats, which help our skin stay glowy and hydrated.
The root cause of many diseases, inflammation is a big problem—but sunflower seeds’ vitamin E levels work to counteract that. In particular, research has shown that vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory properties are helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease by helping clear blocked arteries. Combine that with the heart-healthy fats and fiber in these seeds, and you’ve got the perfect nutrient package for your ticker.
Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer
Vitamin E isn’t the only thing that sunflower seeds have to offer. They also provide selenium, another antioxidant that has been shown to help stop cancer cells from multiplying in the body as well as help to halt the growth of cancerous tumors, particularly when it comes to breast cancer. This is because selenium helps the body with DNA repair and detoxification.
Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Sunflower seeds could also put you in a brighter mood. That’s because they provide magnesium, an essential mineral that many Americans don’t get enough of. And when levels of magnesium are inadequate, serotonin, the feel-good hormone, levels drop, making some people seem more anxious or depressed. (Sidenote: one way that some anti-depressant medications work is by raising the brain’s magnesium levels.) Studies suggest that increasing magnesium intake (and ¼ cup sunflower seeds has nearly a third of the amount you need each day) can potentially help to alleviate symptoms—whether you’re medicated or not.
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