Facts and benefits about sunflowers

Sunflowers face the sun during the long summer days to embrace the sunlight. These amazing flowers are like goddesses of the sun. Nature is at its best as honeybees carry the pollen from one flower to the next. And when birds feed on the sunflower seeds, nature takes care of its surroundings. But this magnificent process has been happening for thousand of years.

History

In fact, the ancient American Indians, during 3000 BC, were the first population to use them as a food source and for medicinal purposes. The natives would ground the seeds to make cakes and breads. They would also use the seeds as part of their meals. And in some instances, they would also use the seed oil in the preparation of breads.

But for some native Indians such as the Aztecs and Incas, sunflowers were a representation of worship to the sun, the all mighty spirit. They believed they were an offering to the Sun to protect and bless their crops.

History also mentions native Indians used them for body painting, cloth dyeing and medicinal uses. Historians believed they used it to treat snakebites, fever, and other health related diseases.

Benefits

The sunflower seeds are edible healthy snacks. Mostly, the seeds are roasted or just eaten raw. These flowers are also used for decoration purposes in floral arrangements and crafts.

Sunflower oil contains numerous health benefits. The oil extracted from the seeds is full of folate, vitamin E, Selenium, Iron and Zinc. The oil extract from the crushing process also contains amounts of fatty acids such as oleic, linoleic and saturated lipids.

These natural benefits of seeds and oil from these flowers are due to pollination – honeybees are the primarily insects to ensure this biological process happens.

Importance of honeybees in their pollination

The survival rate of these flowers could only happen because of honeybees. These amazing insects of nature carry the pollen from one sunflower to another to be fertilized into a seed. This process is called pollination.

Because of pollination, fertilized seeds are able to be carried away by other birds, butterflies or wind, and be deposited in other environmental areas. If honeybees are not able to be involved in the pollination process, then these seeds are unfertilized and unable to grow in other environments.

Pollination plays a crucial role in the increase of sunflowers, production of its seeds and the many natural benefits. As a matter of fact, they were once considered as a wildflower, and they are very easy to grow. They can commonly grow up to 12 feet or 3.5 meters tall. However, there are records of sunflowers being up to 25 feet.

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3 main benefits of honey as medicinal, skin and natural sweetener

Who would have thought that a wonder food such as honey could have numerous benefits? Not only has this amazing sweetener been around for centuries, but also it has been providing medicinal properties since the ancient times.

Although it takes 2 million flowers to make a pound of honey, much of this commercial commodity can sometimes have other elements. Honeybees make a remarkable journey in making it. One should take care in selecting the best product. And it should not be fed to children younger than one.

Basic nutritional value

Honey contains 17 grams of carbohydrates and 64 calories per tablespoon. It also consists of minimal amounts of minerals and vitamins. And it has very high water content. Darker honey indicates high levels of antioxidants and intense taste. Recent studies have found 181 compounds, 4 of which have antioxidant and antiseptic properties: naringenin, pinocembrin, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, and chrysin.

The benefits of honey include medicinal, health and culinary purposes.

Medicinal purposes: 

  • In India, physicians traditionally use it soaked gauze to treat minor burns in patients.
  • Used as anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antibacterial source.
  • Used to treat allergies when bee pollen granules are ingested.
  • Good source to alleviate coughs or sore throats. Usually, honey is taken with citric acid foods like orange or lemon juice.

Health benefits:

  • Used in beauty products like soaps, lotions or hair items.
  • Contains high amounts of water to keep beauty goods hydrated.
  • Used in homemade hair and facial masks to hydrate and renovate scalp and skin.
  • Used to treat mild acne.
  • Used in moisturizers.

Culinary advantages:

  • Natural sweetener used in drinks and foods.
  • Good alternative to refined sugar.
  • Good source of carbohydrates.
  • Contains high amounts of ellagic acid, a phtyochemical, which is found in berries and pomegranates.
  • Contains phenolic compounds such as polyphenolic flavonoids, which are antioxidants derived from the plants in which honeybees extract the nectar.

 

Learning activity:

The nutritional ingredients in honey or miel are very basic. Visit the Nutrition Data site to see the basic components of miel. Many of the compounds can also be found in other food sources. For instance, in Spanish:

  • water is agua
  • iron is hierro
  • vitamin is vitamina

As you learn from this lesson, miel is a healthy food source. Go through the list and identify the elements that make miel an excellent source of minerals and vitamins. Translate them into English.