Helianthus annuus is the botanical name for sunflower. It is a herbacious plant. Sunflower resembles the sun and that’s where its name comes from. It also twists itself and follows the sun throughout the day. Enclosed in an oval black shell its seeds are usually green or dark gray in color.
Sunflowers date back to 2000-3000 BC. They initially grew wild in North America. People, usually hunters, often picked them up and consumed the seeds as they are good sources of fats. After some time people in Mexico started farming them. New techniques were used to make the flowers bigger in size. In south Mexico the Aztecs consumed large amounts of sunflower seeds because of the fats they provided. Sunflower crowns were also worn by priestesses in Aztec temples of sun. In 1500s AD, Europeans came to America and were shown the ways to grow sunflowers by the people. These Europeans brought the technique back to Spain and grew sunflowers usually for decoration purposes. Russians in 1830 started farming the plant for sunflower oil. By this time the crop had also spread to states like Egypt, China, Italy and India. In 1930 Canadian government took initiative to promote the crop for edible purposes. Kansas, North and South Dakota later started farming the flower in 1970.
PROTECTING THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM
Sunflower seeds are excellent sources of vitamin E which is a primary antioxidant for the human body. It is extremely important for preventing heart diseases and atherosclerosis. It is a fat soluble vitamin and can penetrate the fatty part of the cell membrane which is inaccessible to all other antioxidants. Vitamin E prevents varicose veins i.e. swollen and twisted veins with a lot of blood collected in them. It lowers the blood pressure and prevents angina. It prevents anemia and also supports the blood clotting mechanism.