cacao-now-sunflower-title-1 Helianthus annuus Sunflower Seeds -

Sunflower seeds are tiny gifts of the majestic sunflower, whose vibrant yellow petal house a large, seed-studded center. The sunflower is notable for always turning its face to the sun, a behavior known as heliotropism.

Sunflowers produce tasty gray-green and black seeds, which are each encased in their own shell. Shelled sunflower seeds have a mild nutty taste and firm, but tender texture.

These seeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. They also contain potent amounts of plant compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids, both powerful antioxidants. Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Antioxidants fight free radicals in our body, which would otherwise damage our cells.


Sunflower seeds are also rich in B Vitamins, and in the minerals copper, selenium, phosphorus, and manganese.

They are particularly abundant in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterolreduce inflammation and improve heart health.

Additionally, sunflower seeds contain phytosterols, which are plant compounds that contain chemical structures similar to cholesterol. When present in the diet in sufficient quantities, phytosterols may reduce blood cholesterol levels, enhance the immune system, and decrease incidence of cancer.


History

The wild sunflower is native to North America and is thought to have originated in both Mexico and Peru.

Traditionally, sunflowers were common crops harvested by Native American tribes in North America. Their cultivation can be traced to Arizona and New Mexico as early as 3,000 BC, and archaeologists suggest that sunflowers may have even preceded domestic corn cultivation.


History

The wild sunflower is native to North America and is thought to have originated in both Mexico and Peru.

Traditionally, sunflowers were common crops harvested by Native American tribes in North America. Their cultivation can be traced to Arizona and New Mexico as early as 3,000 BC, and archaeologists suggest that sunflowers may have even preceded domestic corn cultivation.


Native Americans used sunflower seeds as a food and an oil source, while also using the flowers, roots and stems for varied purposes.

The seeds were ground and pounded into flour and used in bread, cakes, or mush, and certain tribes mixed the seed meal with vegetables like squash, beans, and corn. They were also commonly cracked open and eaten as a snack


Non-food uses included purple dye for textiles, body painting and other decorations. Medicinally, part of the plant was used to treat snakebites and in healing ointments. Seed oil was applied to skin and hair as a beauty product, and dried sunflower stalks were known to be used as building materials. The plant and its seeds were also used in many traditional rituals and ceremonies.


Around the year 1,500, sunflowers were transported by Spanish explorers to Europe, and became used throughout Western Europe. By 1830, sunflower oil was being produced and marketed commercially. By the early 19th century in Russia, over 2 million acres of sunflowers were being grown for human consumption and oil production.  

Today, commercialization of sunflower seeds in the global marketplace is being led by Ukraine and Russia, as well as Argentina, Romania, and China.