The Many Benefits of Sunflowers
Who knows what may lie around the next corner? There may be a window somewhere ahead. It may look out on a field of sunflowers.
~ Joe Hill ~
Here at TiC we love sunflowers – as you may have guessed from our logo – and today we thought we would share with you just some of the reasons why we feel that the sunflower is one amazing flower…
5 Reasons to Grow Sunflowers
There are many benefits to growing these beautiful blooms including:
1. Feed your Pollinators
The showy large outer petals help attract many species of bees to your sunflowers including honey bees and bumble bees. The centre of the sunflower houses hundreds and thousands of tiny individual florets that contain nectar and pollen, a food source for bees.
2. Beautiful Cut Flowers
The stunning sunflower blooms are not only pretty and brighten the garden, but also make gorgeous cut flowers. The best time to cut stems is early morning because the flower won’t hold the heat from the sun, so will last longer. Get the cut flowers indoors into a cool spot quickly and plunge into clean water within 10 minutes of cutting.
3. Free Edible Seeds
Sunflower seeds are either black or grey striped in colour. Black seeds are higher in oil, so are often used to make sunflower oil. There are also striped sunflower seed varieties. Both are used for eating (without the hull)
4. Attract Birds to your Garden
Birds are nature’s free pest managers and help create a balance of pest insects to beneficial insects in your garden.
5. Help Detox Contaminated Soil
- If you live in an urban area or have a problem with contaminated soil, sunflowers may be one solution to help detox heavy metals.
- These amazing flowers are known as ‘phytoremediators’ (meaning ‘plant remedy’) and ‘hyper-accumulators’.
Sunflower Seeds are Healthy
“Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage … cell membranes, brain cells, and cholesterol. … Vitamin E has significant anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a big role. Vitamin E has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, help decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women going through menopause, and help reduce the development of diabetic complications.”
– Dr George Mateljan, author ‘The World’s Healthiest Foods’
Sunflower seeds are technically the fruits of the sunflower plant (Helianthus annus). They have a mild, nutty flavour and are are harvested from the plant’s large flower heads, which can measure more than 12 inches (30.5 cm) in diameter. A single sunflower head may contain up to 2,000 seeds
Sunflower seeds are excellent sources of several nutrients – including vitamin E and selenium – and beneficial plant compounds that can help prevent chronic diseases.
Sunflower seeds contain nutrients and plant compounds that help reduce your risk of inflammation, heart disease and type II diabetes.
Sunflower seeds are sold either in the shell or as shelled kernels. Those still in the shell are commonly eaten by cracking them with your teeth, then spitting out the shell – which shouldn’t be eaten.
Shelled sunflower seeds are more versatile. Here are various ways you can eat them:
• Add to trail mix.
• Stir into homemade granola bars.
• Sprinkle on a leafy green salad.
• Stir into hot or cold cereal.
• Sprinkle over fruit or yogurt parfaits.
• Add to stir-fries.
• Stir into tuna or chicken salad.
• Sprinkle over sautéed vegetables.
• Add to veggie burgers.
• Use in place of pine nuts in pesto.
• Top casseroles.
• Grind the seeds and use as a coating for fish.
• Add to baked goods, such as breads and muffins.
• Dip an apple or banana in sunflower seed butter
Sunflower seeds are prone to becoming rancid due to their high fat content. Store them in an airtight container in your refrigerator or freezer to protect against rancidity.
NOTE: Though allergies to sunflower seeds are relatively uncommon, some cases have been reported. Reactions may include asthma, mouth swelling, itching of the mouth, hay fever, skin rashes, lesions, vomiting and anaphylaxis. The allergens are various proteins in the seeds. Sunflower seed butter – roasted, ground seeds – can be just as allergenic as whole seeds