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Sunflower seed


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This plant is a most beautiful yellow flower known for its stemís movement towards the sun. The seed is used as food, now world widely used as an oil for frying ,cooking and also used as poultry feed.

 Its binomial name is Helianthus annuus. Its common name is marigold of Peru, Helianthus, Sola Indianus. Its Arabic name is Bethrat Dawar al Shams.

The plant is native to North America and Peru. They have been used by Native Americans for more than 5,000 years. They were brought to Europe by the Spanish conquerors.

Sunflower seeds are cultivated in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Argentina, the US and parts of Africa such as Egypt. It is the state flower of Kansas.

The sunflower (Helianthus annus) is a member of the Asteraceae family (sunflower family), also known as the Compositae family. Many other useful plants belong to the sunflower family, such as echinacea, lettuce, marigolds, dandelion, chicory, thistle. The sunflower plant is tall (5-20'), and it produces large brilliant yellow flowers and edible seeds.

 The sunflower, with its bright yellow petals radiating from a dark hub of seeds, can reach up to 12 inches in diameter. This tall, rangy plant earned its name because its flowers resemble the sun, and because they twist on their stems to follow the sun throughout the day.





The parts used are the seeds (the fruit). The seeds have a hard black-and-white striped shell that must be removed. There are two types of sunflower seed produced, oilseed and confectionary. Sunflower seeds can be dried or roasted (either in or out of the shell), and are sold either plain or salted. 

The constituents of the seeds are a volatile oil, carbonate of potash, tannin and vitamins B1, B3 and B6. It is also rich in fibers and polyunsaturated fatty acids (about 66 % linoleic acid) and low in saturated acids, such as palmitic acid and stearic acid. These are processed into polyunsaturated margarines. The seeds are excellent sources of the B vitamins, including niacin, and pantothenate. They supply vitamin E, which is crucial to circulatory health, and are loaded with calcium, iron, and fiber.

The iron-rich sunflower seeds are, by weight, 47% fat and 24 % protein. The oil is expressed from the crushed seeds and according to the range of temperature to which the seeds are heated, several grades of oil are obtained. The pale yellow, delicately flavored sunflower-seed oil extracted from the seeds is very high in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. Sunflower-seed oil is used in cooking as well as for salad dressings.


 Sunflower is native to North America where it was used in dyes, food preparation and medicines. It then spread throughout the world and developed as an oilseed crop in Russia during the late 1800s.


Medicinal uses

Native Americans used them as a medicine to ease chest pain, decrease water retention, expel worms, improve eyesight, and provide energy. It was believed that a brave Indian could travel farther on a pouch of sunflower meal than on any other food.

Today, some physicians include sunflower seed in the diet of patients with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. The seeds help lower blood pressure, because the seeds are high in potassium and low in sodium, they act as a diuretic. They help improve cardiovascular health, suppress allergic reactions, and help people quit smoking. 

Culinary uses

 Sunflower seeds are both eaten whole and pressed to produce sunflower oil. There are two types of sunflower seed produced, oilseed and confectionary. About 95% of world production is the oilseed type and only 5% the confectionary type.

Sunflower-seed oil is produced from the seed with black shell. The oil is used in cooking and frying as well as for salad dressings. The majority of the oil sunflower seeds are crushed after the hull is removed. The hull(shell) represents about 15% of the sunflower seed weight. Dehulled seed yields 45-50% oil and 50-55% meal.


 Sunflower seeds that are used as food are produced from the striped black and white shell. They can be eaten as a snack, used in salads or sandwiches or added to a variety of cooked dishes or baked goods. Sunflower seeds are more often eaten as a healthy snack than as part of a meal. They are particularly popular in Mediterranean countries. When eaten whole, the seeds are first dried. They may be roasted and for better preservation they are often covered lightly in salt, spices or flour.Some confectionary sunflower seeds are also used for bird seed.

Some sunflower seeds are used for cattle feed. Usually damaged seed is used, but good quality seed is sometimes used in dairy cattle rations. The meal is used as a protein supplement in livestock feed and usually contains about 35% protein. The hulls are used mostly for livestock bedding, with some used as a source of fibre for cattle feed. In addition, the use of the oilseed type seed by the bird seed industry is growing. The value of sunflower seed as part of a healthy diet for parrots has been well known by pet keepers.


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