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Originally published December 18 2013

Oregano oil keeps sunflower seeds fresh longer

by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer

(NaturalNews) Standing tall and emanating with bright yellow petals, the sunflower looks to the light, holding its head of seeds up high into midday. These seeds, high in vitamin E, manganese, B1, B6 and magnesium, are also full of beneficial polyunsaturated fats that aid the cardiovascular system.

Full of vitamin E, sunflower seeds help protect cell membranes from free radical damage. As a source of phytosterols, sunflower seeds help reduce levels of cholesterol and enhance immune response. Their magnesium content helps calm nerves, while their selenium content aids in the body's natural detoxification process.

However, with a high protein and fat content, these seeds are prone to a short shelf life. Often preserved with chemical preservatives like butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), packaged sunflower seeds can come off tasting undesirable, oxidized and like plastic or cardboard.

As consumers call out for natural preservatives, new research is underway.

New research shows that sunflower seeds can be preserved and stored for longer periods of time when combined with oregano essential oil. Oregano oils shows promise for delivering in three important areas - preserving overall taste, keeping seeds fresh through storage and providing health benefits.

Oregano essential oil preserves sunflower seeds

The sunflower seed and oregano combination will be more readily accepted by consumers. Synthetic preservation methods turn off the taste buds. Plus, the health benefits going into the body are boosted when two natural substances such as these are put together.

A study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, shows that oregano essential oils can preserve the positive sensory attributes of sunflower seeds, helping them retain freshness and quality throughout storage. Oregano oils halt the development of rancid flavors by stopping the lipid oxidation in the roasted seeds.

Known for relieving gastrointestinal disorders and fighting illness, oregano oils only add to the health benefits that sunflower seeds already possess.

Oregano oil adds more health-giving properties to sunflower seeds

While being a great preservative, oregano oil also adds its arsenal of health attributes to sunflower seeds. Possessing antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties, oregano oil can act as a natural disinfectant for the entire body. Ancient Greeks knew how to use oregano oil for food preservation as well as for treating infectious skin wounds.

The essential oil is obtained through steam distillation of fresh oregano leaves. The top components inside the leaf - carvacrol, thymol, cymene, caryophyllene, pinene and bisabolene - are extracted for their protective benefits. It's no wonder that this plant was nicknamed "Delight of the Mountains." Many cultures cultivated the leaves to protect against pathogens, allergens and fungi in some of the roughest times.

Study shows consumers prefer oregano-preserved sunflower seeds

The same study from the Journal of Food Science evaluated not only the chemical preservation parameters but also the stability of sensory preservation in roasted sunflower seeds. In the study, the seeds were supplemented with three additives - oregano essential oils, poleo oils and BHT. The study tested for taste quality and consumer acceptance.

The results showed that consumer acceptance was strong for both the oregano and poleo additive groups. Consumer acceptance in these groups trumped the BHT group. Even though BHT protected the seeds against the oxidation process the most, it did not protect the seeds from the formation of undesirable flavors like oregano oil did.

This is great news for consumers who eat sunflower seeds. The call for natural additives like oregano oil over synthetic ingredients means healthier alternatives are up and coming in the marketplace. With this research backing oregano essential oil for preserving the intensity rating of positive sensory attributes, newer, more natural, fresher alternatives for food preservation are on the way!

Look for natural products manufacturers to begin taking advantage of the preservative qualities of oregano oil.

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