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Five health reasons to eat sunflower seeds and sprouts

You may have heard about the health benefits of sunflower seeds, but did you know their sprouts are packed with protein and antioxidants?

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One of the best ways to enjoy the nutrition of a sunflower is by eating its sprouts. Sunflower sprouts boast a surprising 25 percent protein. They are also rich in stress-busting vitamin B and hormone-balancing zinc. Their sweet taste and hearty texture make a great addition to any salad.

Five healthy reasons to eat sunflower sprouts

1. Boost your fertility with sunflower seeds and sprouts: Both sunflower seeds and their sprouts contain high amounts of zinc. Zinc is a well-researched mineral that is essential for the development of sperm, which is why it is especially important for men.

2. Sunflower sprouts are high in B vitamins, especially folate: Folate (or folic acid) is a necessary B vitamin for pregnant women, needed to ensure proper development of the baby’s nervous system. The combination of B vitamins also assists in the mother’s circulation as well as aids in stress relief.

3. Boost your antioxidant capacity with sunflower sprouts: Both sunflower seeds and their sprouts contain high amounts of vitamin E. Vitamin E works synergistically with vitamin C and selenium to reduce blood pressure, increase the elasticity of arteries and prevent heart disease.

4. The sunflower sprout is a natural expectorant for chest congestion: In Ayurvedic medicine, these sprouts are thought to have the ability to encourage clearance of the lungs. Natural expectorants may also be used as a preventative measure against lower respiratory infections to deter the invasion of pathogens.

5. Sunflower seed sprouts are a great vegetarian source of protein: Protein is well known for its ability to repair muscle tissue and aid in enzymatic functions in the body. But protein is also important in bone development and the prevention of osteoporosis, as it acts as the fundamental framework for the development of the bone matrix and continues to support bone strength throughout life.


 

Sprout to life shake
Sprouts are a live food, which makes many nutrients more available for digestion and assimilation. Sunflower seed sprouts are rich in B vitamins and essential amino acids — precisely the nutrients your adrenal glands need to work at their optimum. Cleansing your tissues is more important for stress reduction than many people realize. If your cells are struggling to function because they are full of toxins, then you will be less resilient to stress, be it psychological, physical, or environmental.

Ingredients:
2 cups (500 mL) filtered water
1 cup (250 mL) apple cider or juice
1 cup (250 mL) fresh pineapple, sliced
1 cup (125 mL) sunflower seed sprouts
2 tbsp (30 g) hemp or sunflower seeds
1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a blender, and mix until desired consistency is reached.
Makes 4 cups

Sunflower sprouts are also easy to grow indoors. Soak one cup of unhulled, natural and unroasted sunflower seeds overnight in a mason jar. Place a planting tray with holes onto a solid tray to ensure good drainage. Fill the planting tray with an inch of dirt, watering it well. Drain your soaked sunflower seeds, and spread them over the dirt in an even layer. Cover the seeds with an unbleached wet paper towel — this keeps the seeds moist and in the dark while they sprout. When the sprouts reach an inch tall (about two days), you can take off the cover and put them next to a sunny window. The sunlight will help create the bright green chlorophyll.

Be careful to keep them moist, but don’t over water them or you may encourage mold to grow. In one week your sunflower sprouts will be ready to harvest! If your house is cold, it may take an extra day for the sprouts to reach maturity. 

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon-to-be-published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

For more amazing recipes visit Chatelaine.com’s recipe section.