I remember when I was a kid that I used to buy bags of sunflower seeds and chew them like I was a big league baseball player chomping on some chewing tobacco.
While I was never brave enough to try chewing tobacco…
There was a brief time where I’d have a wad of sunflower seeds stuck in my cheek…
And I looked like one of those guys waiting for the perfect pitch to come over the plate so I could hit a huge home run.
Now, 30 some years later I don’t chew sunflower seeds.
But, I still use them for helping out with my health.
In this case, sunflower seeds are incredibly useful for supporting brain health.
I’ll be sure to write an article about the various benefits associated with sunflower seeds in general but today it’s all about the brain.
How A Hidden Nutrient In Sunflower Seeds Could Support Superior Brain Health
One of the things my 10-year-old self didn’t know about sunflower seeds is that these tiny little flower pods contained within them some of the healthiest fats in the world.
As far as foods go, sunflower seeds are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
1 cup of sunflower seeds, which is approximately 140 grams, is 50% fat.
And the fats that make up sunflower seeds are some of the best fats on the planet for human health.
Take a look at the fat/calorie profile of 1 cup of sunflower seeds
Total Fat 72 g 110% DV
Saturated fat 6 g 30% DV
Polyunsaturated fat 32 g
Monounsaturated fat 26 g
If you’re a person who’s trying out the ketogenic diet then adding sunflower seeds into your daily list of foods to eat is a tremendous idea.
Now here’s the thing, sunflower seed fats also help to deliver a vitally important nutrient called phosphatidylcholine.
Phosphatidylcholine is a molecule that your body uses for all kinds of essential functions. Made up of two different kinds of fatty acids, we know through various studies that phosphatidylcholine helps to keep our cell membranes intact.
Meaning if you didn’t get adequate amounts of phosphatidylcholine in your diet your cells would fail to maintain border integrity and couldn’t function properly.
Wondering how important it is to your health?
Consider this about phosphatidylcholine.
Without it we wouldn’t be able to breathe as it helps to construct a mixture of fats and proteins that line our lungs. It’s also critical to helping form the mucus that lines and protects our gut, so proper digestion and absorption of nutrients depends on it. Your body’s nerve function depends on it too, as it “shields the nerves by increasing choline and acetylcholine levels in the brain.”.
On top of that, this nutrient has been shown to help protect the liver so it can properly detoxify the body and it also helps to break down fats for proper utilization.
And when it comes to brain health, phosphatidylcholine is about as important as gasoline is to a car engine.
Why Supplementing With Lecithin Is Better Than Pure Phosphatidylcholine
When we consume a compound called lecithin, it helps to deliver concentrated doses of phosphatidylcholine so that we can absorb it and use it in the body to help maintain states of superior health.
If you’ll remember from above, phosphatidylcholine is made up of fatty acids, and one of the best forms of fatty acids for this job is lecithin.
“[Lecithin] is a nutrient, as well as a supplement. Lecithin is not a single substance, but rather, a group of chemicals belonging to compounds called phospholipids. The importance of phospholipids is that they are required by the body to build cell membranes and are vital to the normal functioning of the brain, blood, nerves and other tissues.
Lecithin can be found in many foods. The commercial preparations of lecithin are most often made from egg yolk, soybeans, or animal sources. Not only is lecithin taken as an essential fat supplement, but it is also produced for many other purposes, such as to manufacture eye medications (to help eye drops adhere to the cornea), as an emulsifier in food products (to keep ingredients from separating), as a skin moisturizer, in cooking spray, and more.”
Taking a lecithin supplement helps to support your health, specifically your brain, as the human brain is approximately 30% lecithin.
And as NOW Foods writes (regarding lecithin and your brain), “The insulating sheaths that protect the brain, spine, and nerves in your body are almost two-thirds lecithin.* Even the heart has a high concentration of lecithin.* Lecithin is composed of many naturally occurring components, including choline, inositol, linoleic acid, phosphatidylserine, fatty acids, and triglycerides.*”.
The reasons to supplement with lecithin are twofold.
The first is many people simply don’t consume enough fat in their diet to create lecithins.
The second is because as we age our phosphatidylcholine levels can decrease.
A study performed by the International Journal of Molecular Science demonstrated that as we age levels can fall precipitously, as much as 10% between the ages of 40 and 100.
Sure, 10% might not seem that big of a deal. But when you think about how important this compound is for your brain health you quickly realize that any reduction in levels can significantly impact our health.
Of course, you can always eat more fats to build lecithin and phosphatidylcholine supplies in your body.
But if you want to get a concentrated dose of these nutrients then a supplement can help.
Introducing NOW Foods Sunflower Lecithin
At the beginning of this article I started off writing about the benefits of sunflower seeds.
It turns out that in the past few years we’ve seen a rise in allergies related to eggs, soy, and other food-based sources that traditionally supply lecithin.
And that’s why many of you will be happy to know that you can take a sunflower seed based form of this compound.
This bottle right here contains 100 softgels of sunflower lecithin and each serving contains 2,400 mg of lecithin and 420 mg of phosphatidylcholine.
This is an extremely concentrated dose… and can benefit you tremendously if you’re deficient in lecithin and phosphatidylcholine.
Best of all is at just $9.00 a bottle it’s an extremely affordable source of these vital nutrients.
Might I suggest adding some to your repertoire today if you want to benefit your brain health.