What Are the Health Benefits of Sunflower Kernels?

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Sunflower kernels boast a range of health benefits.
Sunflower kernels boast a range of health benefits. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Sunflower kernels are sunflower seeds following a process that removes the seed hull, leaving the inner, nutrient rich kernel. For centuries, sunflower seeds have been consumed as an herbal remedy, with health enhancing properties due to their vitamin, mineral and other nutrient content. Sunflower kernels can be enjoyed raw, or roasted, on their own, or sprinkled on salads or breakfast cereal.

Antioxidants

Sunflower kernels are a rich source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that plays a role in the health of mucus membranes and skin by protecting the cells from damage caused by free radicals. A 1 oz. serving of raw sunflower kernels provides 11.34 mg of vitamin E, over 110 percent of the recommended daily value. Sunflower kernels also contain the polyphenol compounds chlorgenic acid, quinic acid and caffeic acids, which possess antioxidant properties.

Cardiovascular Health

Arginine, an essential amino acid is found in abundance in sunflower kernels. Arginine plays an important role in promoting cardiovascular health by strengthening blood vessels and arteries. Beatine, or vitamin B1, contained in sunflower kernels helps reduce the risk of venous or arterial thrombosis and coronary disease by inhibiting the production of homocysteine, a damaging sulfuric amino acid. Essential fatty acids, or "good fats," found in sunflower kernels also play a role in promoting optimal cardiovascular health.

Cholesterol

Sunflower kernels contain phytosterols, natural chemical compounds with a similar chemical structure to cholesterol. Phytosterols help reduce the absorption of cholesterol and as such, help lower cholesterol levels. The essential fatty acids in sunflower kernels also contain high levels of HDL — the healthy cholesterol that helps combat damaging LDL levels. Niacin, a B-vitamin found in sunflower kernels, also plays a role in reducing LDL cholesterol.

Other Health Benefits

The essential minerals calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium and selenium are all found in sunflower kernels, helping to optimize bone mineralization, red blood cell production, hormone production and enzyme synthesis among other health benefits.

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