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Ingredient Highlight: The Benefits of Sunflower Seed Oil
We’re a little over a month out from the first day of spring, Honeybees, and for those of you who have been caught in the polar vortex recently, I’m sure the idea of some warm weather and sunny skies is particularly appealing. Even for those who haven’t been dealing with subzero temperatures, spring is often a welcome change — birds are singing, the leaves are growing back on the trees, and flowers are starting to bloom adding some much-needed color to our lives after the winter months. With the season of life approaching, I think it’s time to give some attention to an ingredient that many of us may associate with spring, and that is the sunflower.
Technically, the seasons for sunflowers to bloom are late summer and early fall. However, that certainly doesn’t stop the especially large flower from being featured in spring-centric décor or on clothing being sold in March, nor does it prevent the oil from its seed being useful all year round.
First, a short bit of history on the sunflower. The common sunflower, or Helianthus annuus, belongs to the genus Helianthus, which actually includes over 70 species of plants! For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to be talking about the aforementioned common sunflower, since that is the one most people are familiar with and the one who’s oil is most often used. The plant is one of the few that is native to North America, and had been cultivated as a crop by Native tribes as far back as 1000 B.C. Somewhere along the line, the seeds were brought to Europe, where they circulated for a while before making their way to Russia, where they became commercialized. The commercialized version of sunflower seeds eventually came back to North America, and they’ve been utilized in various ways ever since.
The most obvious way that sunflower seeds are used today is, well, by being eaten! However, by pressing the seeds, that is how we get sunflower seed oil, which is also useful in several different ways. The oil derived from sunflower seeds is edible and is often used to cook with. Given its high smoke point, it’s a good oil to fry food in, and can be a healthier option for many compared to corn or vegetable oil. As well, sunflower seed oil is high in vitamin E, which is not only an antioxidant but can help many organs in the body work more efficiently.
While sunflower seed oil is beneficial from within the body, it can also be helpful when applied to your skin. Sunflower seed oil is a natural emollient, so it helps fill in cracks in dry skin and add a protective layer on top of it. The high levels of vitamin E in the oil can help protect skin cells from many of the natural elements we face on a daily basis, such as UV rays and intense cold. On top of that, sunflower seed oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can have anti-inflammatory properties and help heal inflamed or irritated skin. Plus, its scent is fairly mild, meaning it can be mixed with other ingredients and not cause too much scent-overlap.
Moral of the story, Honeybees, is if you’re looking for a bit of a lighter moisturizer now that the weather is (hopefully) warming up, sunflower seed oil is a good ingredient to keep an eye out for. We at Drew’s Honeybees are partial to any ingredients that come from nature, and sunflower seed oil is no exception. Be sure to stay up to date on new products being released soon, and enjoy the incoming warm weather!