Sunflower, in addition to being the name of my first-born daughter, is a majestic plant native to Central America. The Latin name for this plant, Helianthus annus, is derived from the Greek word helios for sun and anthos, meaning flower, and it is a member of the Asteraceae (Daisy) Family, which includes dandelion, echinacea and calendula.
Sunflowers are known to turn towards the sun, and Aztec priestesses have worn crowns of them. Native Peoples have cultivated the sunflower for at least 3,000 years and made them into “energy cakes” as a staple food. At one time Russian soldiers were given rations of sunflower seeds, which at some times they were expected to solely exist on.
Sunflower seeds are high in B vitamin complex, vitamin E, protein, essential fatty acids, magnesium, selenium and zinc. Sprouting the seeds increases their content of beta-carotene, chlorophyll and vitamin C.
As a medicinal food, sunflower seeds are considered antioxidant, diuretic, expectorant, nutritive and warming. They have been used for thousands of years as a tonic for eyes, helping to decrease light sensitivity, improving energy and fertility. Unlike fruits and vegetables, which stop growing when plucked from their mother plant, sprouts continue growing up until the moment they are digested, and impart a subtle life force to the body. Sprouts are considered excellent anti-aging foods due to their rich supply of enzymes.
Next: Sprouting Sunflower Seeds