About Sunflower Seeds
The idea behind our O.S.M. products started with a wonderful bread, which we still make at The Bunnery, called Oatmeal Sunflower Millet Bread. It was such a favorite with visitors to the restaurant that we decided something so delicious shouldn’t be confined to just one item. For our pancake and waffle mix, we start with whole wheat flour, oats and cracked wheat, and add lots of sunflower seeds for their robust, nutty flavor and texture. Boosted with a dose of millet and oat bran and sweetened with a touch of raw sugar, it’s a hearty start to the day, whether in pancakes or waffles.
Sunflower seeds are thought to be
indigenous to Mexico and Peru, and have been a Native American staple for over five millennia. An important source of oil as well as food, they are nutritionally rich in vitamin E, phytosterols and two important minerals, magnesium and selenium.
Vitamin E is the body’s most important fat soluble antioxidant.
It is critical to the immune system in neutralizing free radicals that damage cells and cholesterol molecules, and as a consequence reduces the inflammation these damaged cells otherwise cause. In its role as a cholesterol antioxidant, it helps prevent atherosclerosis and risk of heart attack and stroke, while its anti-inflammatory properties greatly mitigate symptoms of arthritis, asthma and other conditions in which inflammation plays a key role. Vitamin E has also been found to help reduce hot flashes, block diabetic complications and protect against colon cancer. Phytosterols, a group of plant compounds, act in harmony with vitamin E, reducing overall blood cholesterol and enhancing responsiveness of the immune system. Sunflower seeds are among the richest seed sources of phytosterols, and four tablespoons provide 90 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin E.
Magnesium, an essential mineral,
helps to regulate a number of system functions. It has significant importance in reducing high blood pressure, a key factor in stroke and heart attack. Magnesium is vital to bone formation and structure, and acts as a balance to calcium to regulate nerve and muscle tone. Without magnesium, calcium would over stimulate nerve cells, causing blood pressure to rise and muscles to spasm, including heart and airway muscles. In this role, it calms asthma symptoms, mitigates migraine headaches and prevents muscle cramps and fatigue. Without magnesium as a calcium channel blocker, the nerves cannot relax.
Sunflower seeds are also rich in selenium,
a trace mineral of primary importance in DNA and cellular repair; and apoptosis, the mechanism by which exhausted or abnormal cells are destroyed. These repair and destroy functions work together to inhibit proliferation of cancer cells. Another of selenium’s roles in cancer defense is in its interaction with glutathione peroxidase, a powerful antioxidant enzyme that works to detoxify molecules in the liver that damage other cells with which they come in contact. Four tablespoons of sunflower seeds provide nearly a third of the body’s daily requirement of both magnesium and selenium.