Sunflower Seeds

   Sunflower seeds are another highly nutritious seed food that we Americans supply generously to our parrots and our chickens, yet neglect to utilize in raising the standards of our under-par human diets. Our health authorities have been passing up a highly palatable, first-rate source of high-grade protein, B-vitamins and urgently needed trace minerals by failing to acquaint the public with sunflower seeds. This is a serious oversight in a country where our health becomes worse as our civilization grows older-and where our past-forty populace is growing old prematurely because of poor diet. Back in the days of the czars, every Russian soldier out in the campaign field was given what was called his daily 'iron ration'-a two-pound bag of sunflower seeds. Because the army away from its supply bases was sometimes forced to live exclusively on these seeds, the officers furnished their men with this tasty, lightweight food knowing that it gave them all the nourishment needed to keep them in good condition. (Besides the protein, vitamins and other minerals, two pounds of sunflower seeds contain about 21 milligrams of iron. The average grown man requires at least 12 milligrams of iron each day for optimum health, while the average woman needs a minimum of 15 milligrams. From these figures it's easy to understand that the Russian soldier in those days must have been a red-blooded fellow.)
     The Russians, Turks and Arabs living near the Black Sea and in Asia Minor chew sunflower seeds as Americans chew gum. Every Russian home in that region has a bowlful of sunflower seeds to be dipped into at all times, as our homes provide dishes of bonbons. This custom arrived in some parts of the United States where immigrants from Russia settled. In the Dakotas, for instance, several decades ago the school children were encouraged to eat sunflower seeds, called 'Russian peanuts.' Within the last several years, various scientists over the country have made studies to ascertain the nutritional values of the sunflower seed. An experiment conducted at Indiana University to compare sunflower seeds with wheat germ, corn germ and soybeans obtained these results: Sunflower seed meal (the form of the seed used in the experiment) contains about 750 per cent more niacin than the best grade of wheat germ, and is 500 per cent richer in this important member of the B-complex group than either corn germ or soybean meal. Also, sunflower seed meal has the same total niacin value, if not more, than peanut meal, heretofore, considered an outstanding source of this vitamin. What this experiment means to you is that sunflower seeds are an unsurpassed source of niacin. Further investigations revealed that sunflower seed meal contains about 60 per cent more pantothenic acid (likewise a member of the B-vitamin family, and sometimes known as the 'anti-gray hair vitamin') than soybean meal; and considerably more pantothenic acid than either corn germ or wheat germ. It was also learned that sunflower seeds top the list of all vegetable concentrates, containing 55.4 per cent high-grade protein. The report concluded: 'Sunflower seed meal is unusually rich in bone-forming calcium. It is an excellent source of thiamin, or vitamin B-I.'
     We have since discovered that sunflower seeds are regular storehouses for the minerals silicon, magnesium, fluorine and phosphorus, in addition to their particularly generous amounts of calcium and iron. Because of the flower's close affinity to the sun, sunflower seeds are an extremely rich source of vitamin D, being one of the very few plants containing this 'sunshine vitamin.' This is only natural, when we stop to recall that the sunflower is the only plant that visibly turns its head throughout the day to follow the path of the sun across the heavens. Sunflower seeds may enter your diet in several ways. The hulled seeds make a delicious confection, with a flavor far superior, in my opinion, to peanuts. Sunflower seeds, hulled and sometimes toasted, have been a delicacy in the Orient and in Slavic countries for many centuries. The vegetarians who have tried 'meat loaf' made of ground sunflower seeds declare it to be far superior in both flavor and nourishment to any other substitute they have found. Sunflower seeds contain a protein that approaches meat protein in taste and smell. The meal made from sunflower seeds mixes well with other flours, and bakes quickly. It is delicious, too, when used for thickening soups, gravies and sauces.
Sunflower seeds, together with millet, should be an essential in every vegetarian diet, as well as in the diets of those persons who are seeking economical, easily digested, youth-protecting proteins. The protein content of sunflower seeds and millet is better balanced and more digestible than that of soybeans which, up until the present, have formed the 'staff of life' for most meatless diets. If I can't persuade you vegetarians to include at least some meats, fish and poultry in your diets, then by all means let me recommend that you get acquainted at once with millet and sunflower seeds, using them in the ways outlined for you-and for other users in further articles to come.

     It is no surprise to me when enthusiastic reports keep coming in from persons who have adopted sunflower seeds as a regular item in their diets. Especially interesting is the almost unanimous praise for sunflower seeds as a food that remedies bleeding gums, and slows down tooth decay. Of course, the explanation for this is the unusually high content of the vitamins A and D, and the minerals calcium, phosphorus, silicon and fluorine, all of them nutrients directly concerned with the health of teeth and gums. The calcium of raw sunflower seeds is easily assimilated by the human body. This may be one reason why eating sunflower seeds was believed by our grandparents to cure rheumatism. Although no extensive research has been done on this belief as yet, still some of you who suffer from this painful ailment may wish to do some experimenting on your own. About a small handful of hulled seeds is the average daily amount that could be effective. Of course, if sunflower seed meal is available in your community, then by all means also introduce this highly nourishing staple into your meals. J. I. Rodale, one of the country's most tireless crusaders for better nutrition-and for banning the use of chemical fertilizers-noticed that after eating sunflower seeds for about a month he could walk down a snow-covered road in the bright sunlight without suffering the eyestrain which the dazzling glare had formerly caused. He noticed, also, that he no longer was troubled with bleeding gums after introducing sunflower seeds into his daily diet. He was further pleased to note that his skin seemed to be getting smoother. Nutritional science has proved that calcium and vitamin A- both of them generously present in sunflower seeds-are an essential in the diet of a person who desires a healthy skin. Silicon, another mineral provided by sunflower seeds in unusually large quantities, enters into the composition of your hair, nails, nerves, blood, albumin and teeth (aided in this last by fluorine). Laboratory research has discovered that a deficiency of silicon-a trace mineral-in the diet leads to loss of hair and early decay of teeth, as well as to a greatly lowered resistance to infection. From what I've told you about sunflower seeds, you should need no urging to add to your diet this cereal which contains more riboflavin than wheat germ, and is an all-around better source of the B-vitamins and of high-grade protein than any other grain, except perhaps millet.
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