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Abstract

Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive overview of multiple functions of sunflower seeds including their nutritional and nutraceutical benefits. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The literature review is of the chemical composition of sunflower seeds, their health benefits and their utilization in different products. Findings ‐ "We are what we eat." All living creatures need to take in nutrients to live. Nutrients provide energy for processes in the body and can promote growth, maintenance and repair. The classes of nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Sunflower seeds are a good source of all these nutrients. Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, oil crops and whole grains contain many components that are beneficial to human health. Research supports that some of these foods, as part of an overall healthful diet, have the potential to delay the onset of many age-related diseases. Research limitations/implications ‐ Currently available information on sunflower seeds is insufficient. These observations have led to continuing research aimed at identifying specific bioactive components in foods, such as antioxidants, which may be responsible for improving and maintaining health. Antioxidants are present in foods as vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and polyphenols. Originality/value ‐ This review is unique in its comprehensive nature. This article will reflect the role of sunflower seeds as nutritional and nutraceutical package.
British Food Journal
Emerald Article: Nutritional and therapeutic potential of sunflower seeds:
a review
Faqir Muhammad Anjum, Muhammad Nadeem, Muhammad Issa Khan, Shahzad Hussain
Article information:
To cite this document: Faqir Muhammad Anjum, Muhammad Nadeem, Muhammad Issa Khan, Shahzad Hussain, (2012),"Nutritional and
therapeutic potential of sunflower seeds: a review", British Food Journal, Vol. 114 Iss: 4 pp. 544 - 552
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00070701211219559
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Faqir Muhammad Anjum, Muhammad Nadeem, Muhammad Issa Khan, Shahzad Hussain, (2012),"Nutritional and therapeutic potential of
sunflower seeds: a review", British Food Journal, Vol. 114 Iss: 4 pp. 544 - 552
http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00070701211219559
Faqir Muhammad Anjum, Muhammad Nadeem, Muhammad Issa Khan, Shahzad Hussain, (2012),"Nutritional and therapeutic potential of
sunflower seeds: a review", British Food Journal, Vol. 114 Iss: 4 pp. 544 - 552
http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00070701211219559
Faqir Muhammad Anjum, Muhammad Nadeem, Muhammad Issa Khan, Shahzad Hussain, (2012),"Nutritional and therapeutic potential of
sunflower seeds: a review", British Food Journal, Vol. 114 Iss: 4 pp. 544 - 552
http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00070701211219559
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Nutritional and therapeutic
potential of sunflower seeds:
a review
Faqir Muhammad Anjum, Muhammad Nadeem,
Muhammad Issa Khan and Shahzad Hussain
National Institute of Food Science and Technology, University of Agriculture,
Faisalabad, Pakistan
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive overview of multiple functions of
sunflower seeds including their nutritional and nutraceutical benefits.
Design/methodology/approach The literature review is of the chemical composition of
sunflower seeds, their health benefits and their utilization in different products.
Findings “We are what we eat. All living creatures need to take in nutrients to live. Nutrients
provide energy for processes in the body and can promote growth, maintenance and repair. The classes
of nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Sunflower seeds are a good source
of all these nutrients. Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, oil crops and whole grains contain many
components that are beneficial to human health. Research supports that some of these foods, as part of
an overall healthful diet, have the potential to delay the onset of many age-related diseases.
Research limitations/implications Currently available information on sunflower seeds is
insufficient. These observations have led to continuing research aimed at identifying specific bioactive
components in foods, such as antioxidants, which may be responsible for improving and maintaining
health. Antioxidants are present in foods as vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and polyphenols.
Originality/value This review is unique in its comprehensive nature. This article will reflect the
role of sunflower seeds as nutritional and nutraceutical package.
Keywords Sunflower seeds, Antioxidants, Nutraceutical, Nutritional, Health foods, Personal health,
Food crops, Nutrition
Paper type Literature review
Introduction
Everyone needs healthier lifestyle for this, require foods which that have positive
influence on health. Oilseeds have been found with increasing demand as diet from last
few decades owing to their rich phytochemistry mainly responsible for imparting
because they have been proven to be rich in components beneficial for human health
(Lin et al., 2009).
Many scientists have worked about the composition and chemistry of oilseeds
(Caballero et al., 2003; Conte et al., 2004) but now the researchers have thoroughly
investigated that the phytochemicals like tocopherols and phenolic compounds
represents the minor components of oilseeds (Shahidi, 2004a). These compound
inhibits lipid oxidation (Moreno and Mitjavila, 2003; Shahidi, 2004b) and can prevent
cardiovascular diseases (Delplanque et al., 2002; Nielsen et al., 2002) and these
beneficial effects of tocopherols and phenolic compounds are due to antioxidant
activity when they stabilize oil (Koski et al., 2002).
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/0007-070X.htm
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Received 5 August 2010
Revised 3 November 2010
Accepted 15 November 2010
British Food Journal
Vol. 114 No. 4, 2012
pp. 544-552
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0007-070X
DOI 10.1108/00070701211219559
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) is one of the most important oilseed crop grown in
the world (Stefansson, 2007). A tiny sunflower seed is a package of healthy unsaturated
fats, protein, fiber and other important nutrients like vitamin E, selenium, copper, zinc,
folate, iron and phytochemicals. After palm, soy and rapeseed oil, sunflower oil ranked
fourth with a worldwide production of about 10.6 million metric tons during 2006
(FAO-STAT, 2008).
Sunflower is an annual plant originated from America and belongs to the family
Asteraceae. Its production was started in Europe IN early sixteenth century (Pope et al.,
2001). Seeds of the sunflower plant have dual purpose because they provide both
protein and oil (Nagraj, 1997).
Sunflower seed and its composition
As explained earlier sunflower is an oilseed crop cultivated worldwide for oil and
protein contents (Ravindran and Blair, 1992). Sunflower seeds are among the best
source of vegetable proteins, and their nutritional and functional properties have been
extensively studied (Venktesh and Prakash, 1993). Per 100 g the seed is believed to
contain protein 20.78 g, total lipid (fat) 51.46 g, ash 3.02 g, carbohydrate 20 g and fiber
8.6 g with total energy of 2445kj. It is also an excellent source of choline (55.1 mg) and
betaine (35.4 mg) (USDA, 2008).
The whole sunflower seeds contain moisture 5.50 percent, protein 18.72 percent,
crude fat 37.47 percent, crude fiber 28.30 percent, ash 3.49 percent and carbohydrates
6.11 percent. Whole sunflower cake contain moisture 5.80 percent, protein 23.60
percent, crude fat 11.01 percent, crude fiber 30.18 percent, ash 5.66 percent and
carbohydrates 23.75 percent while partially dehulled sunflower cake comprises of 5.60
percent moisture, 25.28 percent protein, 21.38 percent crude fiber, 6.89 percent ash and
19.34 percent carbohydrate. Similarly, dehulled sunflower cake contain moisture
contents, crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, ash and carbohydrate contents as 7.59
percent, 29 percent, 30.25 percent, 8.60 percent,7.50 percent, and 11.17 percent
respectively (Srilatha and Krishnakumari, 2003).
While some scientists gave the chemical composition of hulled full-fat sunflower
seed (Rodrıguez et al., 1998) as moisture 33.2 g/kg fresh weight, ash 26.0 g/kg fresh
weight, crude protein 212.3 g/kg fresh weight, ether extract 457.1 g/kg fresh weight and
crude fiber 134.0 g/kg fresh weight.
It has also been investigated that some elements can decrease the risk of some types
of cancer, e.g. selenium (WCRF, 1997). Sunflower seeds are good source of these
minerals. USDA (2008) gave the following composition for mineral contents in
sunflower seeds. Per 100 g seeds contains calcium 78 mg, iron 5.25 mg, magnesium
325 mg, phosphorus 660 mg, potassium 645 mg, sodium 9 mg, zinc 5.mg, copper
1.80 mg, manganese 1.95 mg and selenium 53.0 mcg.
Sunflower oil: composition and health benefits
Sunflower seed contains an appreciable amount of oil. Sunflower oil is the non-volatile
oil expressed from sunflower seeds. The oil is important with respect to its fatty acid
profile and tocopherols contents.
Sunflower oil contains almost 90 percent unsaturated fat. In particular, the fatty acid
composition is known to differ between cultivars and with environmental conditions.
Sunflower oil has about 110 g/kg of saturated fatty acids (Osorio et al., 1995). Perez-Vicha
Nutritional
potential of
sunflower seeds
545
et al. (1998) investigated a set of 387 intact-seed samples of sunflower were investigated
for fatty acid profile. Their results revealed that Palmitic acid was found in the range of 3
to 35.5 percent for whole seeds and 3.9 to 35.8 percent for dehulled seeds. Palmitoleic acid
was observed in the range of 0.0 to 8.6 percent and 0.0 to 9 percent, Stearic acid in the
range of 1.4 to 30.3 percent and 1.7 to 28.5 percent, oleic acid in the range of 7.7 to 90.7
and 9.1 to 90.5 percent and linoleic acid was observed in the range of 1.8 to 74.5 and 1.9 to
64.4 percent. Fayyaz and Ahmad (2003) reported the percentage of palmitic acid in the
range of 6.57 to 7.67 in different sunflower hybrids.
Jamieson and Baughman (1922) found different results for fatty acid profile. The
percentage palmitic acid and stearic acid were observed in the range of 7.92 to 84.91
percent and 7.25 to 74.90 percent. The percentages of linoleic and oleic acids were
calculated to be 63.3 percent of linoleic acid and 36.7 percent of oleic acid. The
difference in the results may be due to soil conditions and also because that is very old
study so old and differing analytical methods will also be considered. Climate and
seasonal varation also effect fatty aicd contents of sunflower seeds. Demurin et al.
(2000) concluded that oleic acid content is essentially influenced by temperature during
seed development. Each 18C increase of temperature leads to about 2 percent increase
of oleic acid. They also reported a strong negative correlation between oleic and linoleic
acid percentage. A low oleic acid phenotype would essentially be high linoleic. Ahmad
and Hassan (2000) also reported higher oil accumulation at high temperature and
reduction at low temperature.
Thomas (2000) reported that fat, as carriers of the powerful antioxidant alpha
tocopherol, have at the same time a pro-oxidant effect since they are susceptible to
oxidation so the scientific interest is in the relationship between alpha tocopherol and
fatty acids in different food stuffs.
So the other important component of sunflower oil is its vitamin E/Tocopherols
contents. Tocopherols are natural antioxidants. The term vitamin E was first time used
in 1931 for rodents to describe a dietary factor important for fertility in them (Ricciareli
et al., 2001). Tocopherols are fat-soluble vitamin having antioxidant action both in vivo
and in vitro (Kamal-Eldin and Appelqvist, 1996). They occur as a family of four
derivatives named alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherol. These Tocopherols
isomers differ for their relative in vitro and in vivo antioxidant activities with highest
activity of alpha-tocopherol. As it has antioxidant potential and performs various
functions at the molecular level, it is believed that it reduces the risk of cardiovascular
diseases and of certain types of cancer as well (Burton, 1994). It is also the second most
abundant tocopherol isomer found in the human body. Human body is unable to
synthesize tocopherol therefore they must be included in the diet (Sen et al., 2006).
Moderate content of seed tocopherols have been reported in the cultivated sunflower
seeds, predominantly made up of alpha-tocopherol. Velasco et al. (2002) reported an
average tocopherol content of 669.1 mg kg-1 seed, made up of 92.4 percent
alpha-tocopherol, 5.6 percent beta-tocopherol, and 2.0 percent gamma-tocopherol, in a
set of commercial hybrids. Sunflower oil contains alpha 670(mg/kg) beta 27(mg/kg)
gamma 11(mg/kg) and delta 1(mg/kg) tocopherols (Gunstone et al., 1994). Also
significant variations (389 to 1873 mg/g oil 2 1) in the total tocopherol concentration of
sunflower seed oil have been reported. (Nolascoa et al., 2004). The total tocopherols
present in crude oil from whole sunflower seeds varie between 447 and 900 mg/g
oil 2 1 (Gunstone et al., 1994) with extreme values varying from 389 to 1873 mg/g oil
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(Velasco et al., 2002). Alpha-tocopherol typically represents most of 90 percent of
tocopherol content of sunflower seed oil. Sunflower seeds contain almost 90 percent
alpha-tocopherol, beta- and gamma-tocopherol in amounts below 5 percent of the total
tocopherols (Velasco et al., 2002). According to Fisk et al. (2006) tocopherol values
ranged from 214 mg total tocopherol kg 2 1 to 392 mg total tocopherol kg 2 1. In
cultivated material, an average tocopherol content of 669.1 mg kg-1 seed have been
reported, made up of 92.4 percent alpha-tocopherol, 5.6 percent betatocopherol, and 2.0
percent gamma-tocopherol (Velasco et al., 2002). Rossi et al. (2007) reported alpha
tocopherol content 475 mg/100 g in sunflower seed oil.
Total phenolic and antioxidant activity of sunflower seeds
Phenolics compounds possess one or more aromatic rings and with one or more
hydroxyl groups. These compounds in diet may provide health benefits associated with
reduced risk of chronic disease (Liu, 2007) because they are also known as antioxidants
(Abdel-Aal et al., 2006). Phenolic compounds from plant sources have become a subject of
interest for researchers due to their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants have long been
recognized to have protective functions against oxidative damage and are helpful to
reduce the risk of chronic diseases (Adom and Liu, 2002; Liu, 2007).
Many plants contain these natural antioxidants in the form of phenolics (Awika
et al., 2003; Chun et al., 2003; Kroyer, 2004; Kuti and Konuru, 2004). Sunflower seeds are
one of them as they contain appreciable amount of these phenolics (Kubicka et al.,
1999).
Contents of phenolic compounds in sunflower seeds have been reported in various
studies (Dabrowski and Sosulski, 1984; Pedrosa et al., 2000) in comparison with the data
obtained is hardly possible due to differing analytical methodologies used, the
development of novel sophisticated techniques and also differences in the sample
material and origin. Fisk et al. (2006) determined the total phenolics contents in sunflower
seeds and found to be 2700 mg/100 g on dry weight basis. The total phenolics content
(TPC) as determined by summarizing individual amounts of all constituents ranged from
2938.8 mg/100 g to 4175.9 mg/100 g dry matter (DM) for the dehulled kernels and from
40.8 mg/100 g to 86.0 mg/100 g DM for the corresponding shells implying a variation of
around 30 percent for the TPC from sunflower kernels and 52 percent for the shells.
Expectedly, the TPCs of the sunflower kernels were up to 100 times higher than those
determined in the shells. (Weisz et al., 2009). Many polyphenols from sunflower seeds
such as caffeic, chlorogenic and ferulic acids have been reported in many studies to exert
a high antioxidative potential, which is beneficial from technofunctional and
biofunctional point-of-view (Velioglu et al., 1998; De Leonardis et al., 2005; Maier et al.,
2009). A total of 70 percent of sunflower polyphenols are present as chlorogenic and
caffeic acids (Sabir et al., 1974). These polyphenols have the capability to be used as
effective antioxidants for sunflower oil (De Leonardis et al., 2003).
Determination of antioxidant activity is important to assess the effectiveness of the
phenolics. Several studies applying the DPPH assay for determining the antioxidant
capacity of oilseeds such as the sunflower’s have found high antioxidant capacity
values for the extracts of these seeds (Chang et al., 2002; Suja et al., 2005; Shahidi et al.,
2007). Antioxidant activity by this method of the aqueous extract of sunflower seeds
was found to be 58.8 percent in striped sunflower seeds via DPPH assay (Giada and
Mancini-Filho, 2008).
Nutritional
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547
The antioxidant activity via beta carotene bleaching method from sunflower
residue was found to be near 70 percent by Matthaus et al. (2002). And also the
antioxidant activity of sunflower seeds determined by Velioglu et al. (1998) was 72.9
percent.
Different results for relationship between phenolic content and antioxidant activity
have been reported. Some authors found correlation between the polyphenol content
and the antioxidant activity while others found no such relationship. Andarwulan et al.
(1999) found a parallel increase between phenol content and antioxidant activity during
germination of Pangium edule. Tsaliki et al. (1999) also found an increase in the
antioxidant activity of lupin seed. Maillard and Berset (1995) found no correlation
between antioxidant activity and phenolic content in malts as they reported other
compounds are also responsible for the antioxidant activity and also there was no
relationship between antioxidant activity and phenolic composition found in citrus
residues (Bocco et al., 1998), fruit berry, fruit wines (Heinonen and Lehtohen et al., 1998)
and in plant extracts (Kahkonen et al., 1999).
Utilization of sunflower seeds
The scientists are working to explore the new ways to improve the quality of wheat
bread through various means. From consumer point-of-view the quality of breads
depends on sensoric attributes like appearance, aroma, texture and flavour (Meilgard
et al., 2007). Scientists have carried out work on the preparation of composite flours
comprising wheat flour supplemented with nutritionally rich materials of different
products of oil seeds i.e. soybean, peanut, sunflower, and cottonseed.
Sunflower seeds can be used to prepare various products. Nutritive value of these
products highly depends on the technology of seed processing i.e. high temperature,
pressure for oil extraction. Sunflower cake left after the extraction of oil contains high
level of crude protein 15-45 percent, and ether extract 3.5-38 percent (San and
Villamide, 2000).
Addition of different levels of sunflower seeds in bread negatively affected the
volume but improve the flavor and taste of the bread. Sunflower seeds can be
successfully replace wheat flour up to 16 percent. The supplementation of sunflower in
wheat flour significantly improved the nutrient profile of the breads (Skrbic and
Filipcev, 2008). There is a significant increase in protein, fat and fiber values when
recipes (for chapatti’s, biscuits) containing sunflower cake at 10 and 20 percent levels
were analyzed (Srilatha and Krishnakumari, 2003).
Using five protein sources, including sunflower seed protein concentrates, enriches
wheat bread. The protein sources were added at 5 percent and 10 percent level.
Chemical analysis of the enriched bread revealed increase in the protein content by
values ranging from 16 to 62 percent. Sensoric evaluated included: aroma, crumb color,
texture, flavor, and overall acceptability. The mean score for these characteristics show
that the protein sources are favorable supplements especially at 5 percent level.
Conclusion
Health and nutrition rank high for consumers who want foods that are as good for
them as they are good to eat. Sunflower oil and kernels meet that challenge with their
combination of nutrients and health benefits. The technology to utilize this functional
food package is to supplement it with wheat flour because wheat is the staple food of
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the world. So by supplementing wheat flour with sunflower seeds four increase in
nutrient and phytochemicals contents can lead human beings to healthier life style.
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Corresponding author
Muhammad Issa Khan can be contacted at: issa1395@hotmail.com
BFJ
114,4
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