Origin: Native to North America, Sunflower was bestowed upon the commercial tag in Russia. The American Indians were the first ones to domesticate the plant into with a variety of seed colors such as black, white, red, and black/white striped. The American Indian tribes domesticated this crop probably around 1000 BC and then carried it eastward and southward of North America.
The sunflower was used in multiple ways by American Indian tribes. Grounded seeds were pounded into flour for cakes, mush or bread. Some mixed them with other vegetables such as beans, squash, and corn. They also ate the seed as a snack. Historical references suggest that the oil squeezed the oil from the seed was used in making bread.
The Europeans discovered helianthus cultivated in several places from southern Canada to Mexico. Spain introduced Sunflower to Europe and then it reached Russia where it was used for oil production. The artists of the Impressionist era were especially fixated on the flower. They loved the sunflower's unique splendor, throughout history.
Sunflowers were often used for gifts carried by Spanish settlers returning home. The sunflower was a symbol of the sun god because at dawn it starts to turn its flowers toward the sunrise.
Mayans worshiped the sunflower as a symbol of light and fertility and drank tea made of its leaves and ate the seed, stems, leaves, and petals.
Scientifically: According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, the seeds of sunflowers are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. They are rich in magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc, and iron. Sunflower contains Vitamin E and K.
Sunflower seeds improve digestion, brain power, and also the functioning of the circulatory system. Not only this, the oil made from sunflower seeds supplies more vitamin E than any other vegetable oil available in the market.
Due to a low saturated fat level, it prevents many diseases like heart problems, obesity, and indigestion. According to researchers from Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania, Sunflower oil is a great skin moisture retainer. Sunflower seeds are one of the best sources of phenylalanine, a compound that prevents pain due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect.
The oil of Sunflower seed is packed with anti-inflammatory properties that lower skin redness and roughness. High in omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acid and vitamin E, this oil is great for skin as Omega-6 acid reduces inflammation and enhances the generation of new skin cells.
The antioxidants in this oil guard the skin against harmful UV rays. In addition, it is very effective in treating acne. The vitamins and fatty acid in this oil help in eradicating acne-causing bacteria. It is also rich in Beta-carotene whose antioxidant properties are beneficial for the skin.
Sunflower oil is blessed with Oleic Acid that aids stopping hair breakage and stimulating healthy hair growth. Thus, making it great for hair. It deeply moisturizes the hair and diminishes the look of frizzy hair.
Usage: The seed can be eaten raw, dried and fried. The seed is used to prepare different spreads with tofu and some vegetables. It is perfect as an addition to bread or pastry. The seed is also recommended as a worthy addition to breakfast with fresh fruit or fresh cheese. The seeds are also used in salads, soups, cake, desserts, etc. The sunflower can be used in the preparation of salads and vegetables. Apart from this, the cosmetic industry uses this a lot.
Below are some DIY with sunflower oil:
- Take two spoon of coconut oil and a few drops of sunflower seed oil. Mix it all together. Keep it in a dark glass bottle. Store it in a cool, dry place. Apply it on your face daily. This mixture will moisturize your skin and make it healthy.
- Take 1 tablespoon of plain Greek Yogurt, 1 tablespoon of Sunflower Oil and 2 tablespoons of Lemon juice. Mix them together and apply on the face. Let it dry for 15 minutes and then rinse. This is a great anti-aging pack.
- Take a few drops of sunflower oil and apply under the eye as an under eye cream. It nourishes the under eye skin and helps in removing dark circles.
- Take a teaspoon of sunflower oil and apply on any skin irritation or sunburn area.