The roads are snowy; the skies are overcast. Yet, winter isn't half over yet. So, if you can't get away from the dreary weather, you can brighten up your winter health with a handful of sun -or rather...
The roads are snowy; the skies are overcast. Yet, winter isn’t half over yet. So, if you can’t get away from the dreary weather, you can brighten up your winter health with a handful of sun -or rather, sunflower seeds.
Snacking on sunflower seeds can satisfy your munchies on the road, while keeping your health on track. Unlike peanuts, sunflower seeds very rarely cause allergic reactions and they’re much better than most snack foods that fill you up and out.
They’re available almost anywhere you would buy less healthy snack foods.
You can buy them in or out of their shell, packaged or from bulk bins.
If you prefer unshelled seeds, choose shells that are not broken or dirty. As well, they should be firm, not limp or flexible.
At home, if you want to shell a large amount of sunflower seeds, you can put them in the mixer and pulse it a few times to break most of the shells without chopping the kernels. Then, to get rid of the shells, fill the bowl with cold water so the shells float to the top. Skim off the shells and then drain the remaining kernels. Now, you’re ready for a feast.
If you decide to scoop your own shelled sunflower seeds out of the bulk bin, make sure that they smell fresh and that they haven’t turned a yellowish colour. If they smell or look a little off, they may have gone rancid, so buy them another time.
Since sunflower seeds have a high fat content, they become rancid easily when stored outside of ideal conditions.
For best results, store them in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer for up to a couple of months. Freezing them does not affect their texture or flavour very much.
If you’ve got a package of shelled sunflower seeds in your pocket, use them to spice up your everyday lunch into something more interesting. Slip some seeds into your favourite tuna, chicken or turkey salad sandwiches for a crunchy change. Toss a few into your salad. Mix them into your scrambled eggs for a slightly nutty flavour. Sprinkle some onto your hot or cold breakfast cereal. Or, if you get a chance to cook, finely grind some up and dust your meats with them instead of flour before cooking.
Sunflower seeds taste great and the nutrition they pack into that hard black shell is nothing to spit at.
One cup contains: protein (over 10 g);Vitamin E; magnesium (163 mg); selenium (27.3mcg); as well as a number of other nutrients, including zinc, Vitamin B and folate.
The protein found in sunflower seeds comes without the cholesterol and fats found in many meat proteins. This protein will make you feel full faster than other junk foods and build your muscles at the same time.
The Vitamin E (Tocopherols) found in sunflower seeds has been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease. Vitamin E is the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. It neutralizes free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules, such as cell membranes and brain cells.
Because of this it reduces the symptoms of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin E has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer and diabetic complications.
Vitamin E plays an important role in preventing cardiovascular disease. Since it helps prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol, the cholesterol sticks less to blood vessel walls, reducing the chance of developing atherosclerosis, blocked arteries, heart attack or stroke. Getting plenty of Vitamin E can significantly reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
Studies show that people who get a good amount of Vitamin E are less likely to die of a heart attack than people whose dietary intake of Vitamin E is marginal or inadequate.
Just a quarter-cup of sunflower seeds contains 90.5% of the daily value for Vitamin E.
Magnesium improves asthma, lowers high blood pressure, prevents migraine headaches, regulates nerve and muscle tone while reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. It is stored in the bones and is necessary for healthy
bones and energy production. Too little magnesium can lead to high blood pressure, as well as muscle tension, fatigue, cramps and spasms (even heart muscle airway spasms). A quarter-cup of sunflower seeds provides 31.9% of the daily value for magnesium.
Selenium has been shown to reduce your risk of cancer. It stimulates DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells stopping cancer cells from reproducing and helping the body get rid of worn out or abnormal cells. A quarter-cup will give you 30.6% of the daily value for selenium.
Those are the reasons I recommend adding sunflower seeds to your diet. I also recommend that you keep a container in your cab for the shells. The other drivers will appreciate it!
-Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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