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Cultivating sunflowers can brighten your life and improve your health in surprising ways


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(NaturalNews) Sunflowers, with their tall stalks and bright yellow flowers, are often associated with optimism and cheer. However, they do more than evoke positive feelings; they can improve health -- your own as well that of the environment -- in many ways.

For example, it's no secret that consuming their seeds does wonders for health.

According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, sunflower seeds "are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body's primary fat-soluble antioxidant." Vitamin E plays a role in maintaining healthy cells and keeping free radicals from destroying the body; as such, sunflower seeds are listed on the site as one of the top 100 healthiest foods.(1)

Furthermore, the site explains that the seeds are good sources of selenium and magnesium, which aids in cancer prevention, improved detoxification and nerve and blood vessel health. Lowered blood pressure, reduced stroke risk, fewer muscle cramps and migraine relief are just a few benefits gained by incorporating more sunflower seeds into the diet.(1)

To really ramp up these nutritional benefits, sprout the seeds, which creates microgreens. Doing so provides nearly 100 times the enzymes of full-grown greens, so in actuality, your body is able to more easily absorb its vitamins E and A, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, folate and iron.(2)

The good news doesn't stop with the seeds. Did you know that there are health benefits beyond the seeds?

Medicinal properties of sunflowers

Have a high fever? Turn to sunflower leaves. When used as an infusion, it can help bring the fever down. It also plays a role in improving lung issues and offering relief from diarrhea.

If you've developed a wound or other similar skin injury, you'll be amazed by the healing wonders of sunflower stems. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, Charles H. Lange, an anthropologist at the University of Texas, touted the healing nature of the stems, calling them a "reliable 'home remedy'" in which the juice of freshly-cut sunflower stems can be "smeared liberally over the wounds" then bandaged. Lange noted that doing so led to a fast, infection-free recovery.(3)

Natural way to preserve wildlife and protect other crops

In addition to human health, planting sunflowers also attracts birds (ranging from black-capped chickadees to house finches and meadowlarks) and bees to help other crops grow and be pollinated.(2,3)

Furthermore, sunflower stalks are ideal for climbing plants like squash or green beans; consider using stalks instead of bothering with purchasing or making your own stakes. They're sturdy enough to support climbing plants, plus the sheer size of sunflowers helps protect crops from intense sunlight, creating shade while also boosting humidity. In turn, gardens and crops flourish.

When the SHTF, sunflowers are ideal

Because sunflowers are great for health and the environment, they're also viewed as a great way to prepare for SHTF scenarios. In fact, a 2,500 square foot lot can produce about 20 pounds of
non-hulled seeds. This amount even includes plenty of broken seeds left over that feed birds. In the the likely event that economic, societal and environmental collapse occurs and people are left scurrying for food and shelter, cultivating sunflowers is important to consider.(2)

What's not to love about bright and cheery sunflowers? They're great for health, possess a wide range of nutritional qualities, aid in wound healing and ensure that other crops and wildlife are protected.

Sources for this article include:

(1) http://www.whfoods.com

(2) http://readynutrition.com

(3) http://www.plants.usda.gov[PDF]

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