Foods that Help You Focus:
Sunflower Seeds

Written by
Published in September 2009

brain foods focus - sunflower seeds( Lovers of sunflower seeds, rejoice! These seeds are extremely high in Vitamin E, the main fat-soluble antioxidant. How does Vitamin E help protect the brain? It essentially neutralizes the impact of free radicals that may be traveling through the body, thereby sparing fatty structures such as the brain from the damaging effects of oxidation. There is some evidence that Vitamin E from foods - though not that from supplements - offers some protection against Alzheimer's Disease. Just a quarter of a cup of sunflower seeds provides 90.5% of the Daily Value of this vitamin.

Sunflower seeds are also a good source of magnesium, which has been shown to be an important nutrient in the prevention of migraine headaches. While the exact mechanism of a migraine attack is still being studied, there is some evidence that magnesium levels in the blood affect several brain receptors and neurotransmitters that are involved in migraines. As a nutrient, magnesium counteracts the actions of calcium. When there is too little magnesium, calcium can rush into nerve cells and overexcite them, which leads to excessive contractions. When magnesium is available, it helps the nerve cells stay relaxed. A quarter of a cup of sunflower seeds contains approximately 1/3 of the Daily Value of magnesium.

How to Prepare Sunflower Seeds

What we know as sunflower seeds are actually the fruits of the sunflower plant, which grows easily in most parts of the country. Sunflower seeds taste mildly nutty and have a firm yet tender texture. They are available un-shelled or shelled, and may be purchased pre-packaged or in bulk bins. Because the seeds are high in fat, they can easily go rancid. Once purchased, it's best to store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. In case you are watching your sodium intake, make sure you purchase unsalted ones instead of the salted variety.

Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy sunflower seeds:

  • Sprinkle them on cereals, salads, scrambled eggs, pasta, or pizza.
  • Grind them up and use them as the breading or "crust" on your roast poultry, meat, or fish.
  • Add them to muffin batters, bread dough, granola bars, or smoothies.
  • Add them to dips for some extra crunch and nutrition.
  • Make your own "sunflower seed butter" by grinding the seeds up in a food processor.

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