One of the biggest medical unmet needs in the world today is treating neurological disease and brain traumas. Your brain is a complex series of over 15 billion neurons within the cerebral cortex alone. Research has shown the cortex plays a critical role in our memory, thought, speaking, and consciousness however science and medicine still lack the ability to heal the cerebral cortex from injury or degenerative diseases. One promising area of research to meet this need is sunflower lecithin.
Lecithin is a basic building block of all plant and animal cells. Lecithin resembles a fatty like substance with a waxy, yellow/brownish appearance. It was first identified in the mid-1800's but only now are researchers understanding the critical functions lecithin places in all living cells. Lecithin is made up of fatty acids, glycerol, glycolipids, triglycerids, and phospholipids. (reference: wiki).
Data supporting sunflower lecithin benefits:
- Brain health. Sunflower lecithin contains phosphatidylserine which controls the metabolism of brain cells. This research is still only in the proof of concept stage but remains a promising future treatment for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and brain injury patients.
- Anti-Aging. Phosphatidylcholine is a powerful antioxidant that aggressively removes free radicals in the human body. Excess free radicals attack, damage and accelerate the aging process while also increasing the risk of certain kinds of cancer. (reference: healthsmartliving.com)
- Sunflower vs. synthesized lecithin. Health food supplement companies have started synthesizing lecithin with soy due to its low cost of production. However, the research referenced above was only with sunflower extracted lecithin. Synthesizing lecithin with soy requires phytoestrogen and hexane which have been linked to endocrine related side effects. These side effects include sexual dysfunction, male breast growth and hyper sensitivity.
Ways to include more sunflowers in your daily diet:
1. Home roasted - Skip the mass produced sunflower bags as they are loaded with salt and other preservatives. Home roasting is a snap and provides a great aroma in the house while roasting.
- 1 cup raw and in the shell sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 3 cups of water
- Dash of cayenne pepper (optional for spice)
Soak the sunflower seeds in the salt water mixture for 1 hour. Drain the sunflower seeds and spread them in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Place in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and allow them to cool. Add a dash of cayenne pepper if you want a bit of a kick.
2. Pesto - Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts however sunflower seeds are a great substitute.
- A larger bunch of cilantro
- 1 cup of raw shelled sunflower seeds
- 1 garlic clove
- Â½ cup of olive oil (extra virgin suggested)
Put the sunflower seeds, garlic, and salt into a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are a fine consistency. Add the cilantro and slowly pour the olive oil into the processor while running. Remove from food processor and your pesto is ready for use.
3. Granola Bars - A great natural fit as a good granola bar needs a variety of nuts to provide a good texture and taste.
- 1 cup shelled sunflower seeds
- 1 cup of chopped almonds
- Â¼ cup wheat germ
- Â½ cup honey
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cups oats
- Â¼ cup brown sugar
- 4 ounces of dried fruit (optional)
Toast oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Heat the honey, brown sugar, and butter in a pan over medium heat. Once dissolved, pour the mixture over the toasted nuts in a glass Pyrex dish. Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into bars.