Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) is grown all over the world, mainly for oil production (4th place in the world), but also as a snack in the form of seeds (raw or roasted) and as an ingredient in pet food. Magnificent looks in bouquets, and undoubtedly decorates home discounts.
If you meet him at a market stall, and probably it will happen because it is just going on season, do not think for a moment. It is even worth dirty nails and aching fingers 😉
Fresh sunflower seeds are a mine of nutritional value. Valuable vitamins, minerals, healthy fatty acids and antioxidants.
About 24% consists of protein and 35-42% fat, of which 63% are unsaturated fats, of which 55-70% are linoleic acid and 20-25% oleic acid.
In folk medicine, the nutritional value of sunflower seeds was used to treat heart disease and respiratory diseases (bronchi, lungs, larynx). It also works great as part of the diet therapy for thyroid disease, glycemic disorders, skin problems and hair problems.
Sunflower seeds are worth eating because of many valuable nutritional values, among others:
- anti-inflammatory and antibacterial antioxidants,
- flavonoids – heliannon, quercetin, kemferol, luteolin, apigenin,
- phenolic acids – caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeoylquinic acid, gallic acid, protocatechic acid, coumaric acid, ferulic acid and sinapic acids,
- necessary unsaturated fatty acids (EFA), of which 55-70% is linoleic acid and 20-25% oleic acid,
- sulfur amino acids,
- glutamic acid
- aspartic acid
- vitamin E,
- vitamin A,
- high concentration of vitamin B3 (niacin),
- Folic acid,
Thyroid disease therapy
In the treatment of thyroid disease, when it comes to sunflower seeds, it is worth using anti-inflammatory and oxidative stress-reducing properties of flavonoids, phenolic acids and vitamin E, also known as the vitamin of youth and fertility.
Menstrual cycle disturbances, fertility problems and neurological disorders (concentration disorders, depressive states) are a common problem for people struggling with thyroid disease, which is why proper supply of vitamin E and niacin is extremely important. Niacin or vitamin B3, in addition to affecting the proper functioning of the brain and peripheral nervous system, is also involved, among others in the synthesis of sex hormones and thyroxine (T4).
Other important minerals that are used to build thyroid hormones are zinc, copper, selenium and iron. Without them, there is no question of a healthy thyroid, beautiful hair and a strong immune system.
Symptoms of selenium deficiency are:
- frequent infections, both viral and bacterial,
- constant fatigue
- lack of desire for daily activities,
- muscle aches,
- increased feeling of cold
- attention deficit disorder
- mood swings,
- constant nervousness
- water retention
- dry and rough skin
- sudden weight gain
- weight loss problems
Selenium is a part of glutathione peroxidase (which protects cell membranes against damage caused by free radicals), thioredoxin reductases (protects cells against oxidative stress, regulates apoptosis, and prevents cancer) and deiodinases, which are key in thyroid hormone metabolism.
It is crucial in processes related to resistance. Present in neutrophils, lymphocytes and macrophages.
Its deficiency will put a shadow on the immune system causing poor resistance to infections, both viral, bacterial and fungal. It will also significantly affect the course of Hashimoto’s disease.
Decreased selenium levels occur in AIDS patients, in blood vessel diseases, acute pancreatitis, phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, retinopathy, renal failure, in immunological diseases and in patients with depression.
Active deiodinases are necessary for the conversion of thyroxine to triiodothyronine. These are enzymes that need min. For activation selenium, but also ferritin which is a protein supply of iron. With poor conversion, metabolism sharply slows down, and weight loss becomes a battle with windmills.
80% ft3 is formed in the liver and kidneys with the participation of deiodinase I. At low levels of selenium and ferritin, the conversion problem will occur and TSH will increase and no dose of inactive thyroxine (component of Euthyrox and Letrox) will change.
The absorption of selenium from foods (selenomethionine) reaches 90%. It is increased by the presence of the amino acid methionine (from protein), vitamins A, C and E, but it is worth knowing that vitamin E additionally increases and prolongs the action of selenium.
I will not write more about iron today because it is not a mineral that I recommend drawing from sunflower seeds (there are better sources), while zinc is. It is a key mineral for hair, skin, thyroid and immune system functioning.
Zinc and selenium are essential trace elements involved in thyroid hormone metabolism. In a study of a group of patients with overweight and obesity with hypothyroidism, it was shown that the proper supply of zinc and selenium contributed to an increase in the level of ft3, ft4 and a significant decrease in TSH.
About the importance of zinc in the metabolism of thyroid hormones and its impact on the process of baldness in this disease, I will write in a separate post because it is a comprehensive topic.
Zinc and other trace elements, such as copper and selenium, are required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, and their deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism. I have written to you many times that before you start pharmacological treatment for thyroid problems, you must first enter a diet that is supposed to provide building blocks for thyroid hormones. It is intended to provide vitamins and minerals that are part of thyroid hormones and activate deiodinases. If the bike has no wheel, you won’t get far. Diet is supposed to provide this.
In my work I have a huge number of cases where the cause of thyroid problems was the lack of substrates to produce hormones. We can artificially supply such a hormone with a medicine, but we can also help the body produce it.
Why do my patients who conscientiously reduce their diet reduce the doses of drugs they have used so far? Because the body begins to work by itself.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency include:
- hair loss,
- nail breaking
- acne lesions
- excessive sweating
- decreased libido
- tiredness, apathy
- frequent infections
- increased desire for sweet,
Diet therapy for diabetes and insulin resistance as well as cardiovascular diseases
Sunflower seeds are also worth using in diabetes and insulin resistance dietotherapy. The study showed that secondary metabolites in sunflower seed extract control glucose levels with alpha-glycosidase inhibitors that inhibit intestinal brush limestone enzymes, and thus reduce carbohydrate digestion and absorption from intestinal postprandial hyperglycemia.
For glucose disorders in diabetes and insulin resistance, it is worth adding sunflower seeds to meals.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) contained in sunflower seeds are exogenous acids, i.e. those that our body cannot produce itself, so for the proper functioning of the whole organism we must provide them with food. EFAs, by regulating excessive vasoconstriction, prevent hypertension and inhibit platelet aggregation, thereby preventing blood clots. They also lower cholesterol.
Visible symptoms of EFA deficiency are:
- dry flaky skin
- skin changes
- hair loss,
- fragility of blood vessels,
- decrease in immunity and tendency to skin inflammation,
- problems with blood clotting resulting in poor wound healing,
- disorders in the functioning of the nervous and endocrine systems
- fertility problems
- problems with concentration and learning (cerebral cortex is 40% DHA)
- blurred vision
- excessive thirst
Linoleic acid contained in sunflower seeds has anti-cancer activity, especially in the case of so-called female cancers. By having a positive effect on blood lipids, it lowers cholesterol and slows down the atherosclerotic process. It also regulates glucose metabolism and accelerates the rate of metabolic changes favorably affecting the figure.
Oleic acid is highly anti-inflammatory. Thins the blood and reduces platelet aggregation by preventing blood clots. Key in the prevention of atherosclerosis and elevated cholesterol. Regulates glucose metabolism.
Beautiful hair and healthy skin
Iron, zinc, selenium, B vitamins, EFA, copper, vitamin A, E and sulfur amino acids are key vitamins and minerals for skin and hair that you will find in sunflower seeds.
Particularly noteworthy, however, is zinc and sulfur amino acids because keratin, of which 80% of the hair consists, is mainly made of sulfur amino acids (cysteine and methionine). So without sulfur there is no question of strong hair but also strong nails and healthy skin. Sulfur plays a key role in the epidermis regeneration process. It also has anti-inflammatory, antifungal and detoxifying effects. Anyone struggling with acne, atopic dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis should include sulfur-rich foods in their diet. Sulfur deficiency results in hair loss, brittleness and graying, as well as brittleness of the nails, dry skin, fatigue or drowsiness.