As well as being such a beautiful sight to behold either growing in the yard or as cut flowers in a vase, sunflowers also have many practical uses and properties. You'll learn what sunflowers are used for along with many beneficial properties that they have.
For starters, sunflowers are used as a means for providing us with both oil and food. As well as food that we can eat, the seeds are loved by many small birds and especially songbirds. The plant is eaten by other animals too.
I'm certain that we have much more to learn about this flower and its many uses. Discover more about what this amazing plant is used for and be surprised at all the ways in which it is useful to our world.
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What are Sunflowers Used For
These flowers with their gorgeous big and bright blooms have a unique and winning combination of offering some rather amazing benefits to us as well as being pretty to look at.
They Make a Healthier Vegetable Cooking Oil
Sunflowers are used to make vegetable oil. Native Americans may have been the first to recognize the wonderful properties of sunflower oil. It was much later produced en mass in Russia.
Nowadays we use this oil as a healthier type of vegetable cooking oil. It is considered to be healthier because it is low in saturated fat which basically means that it contains less of the unhealthy type of fat content.
You can use sunflower oil for lots of types of cooking. You can bake with it and use it as a replacement for margarine and butter in many cakes, cookies and bakes.
You can also fry with it and roast vegetables with it. You can even use it as the base for a salad oil dressing.
We prefer to use sunflower oil for cooking and home baking. I think it is great to cook with and here's why:
- Firstly, this oil is a lighter and a healthier alternative to many types of cooking oils. It is better for your health.
- Unlike some oils, it does not have any overpowering flavor which spoils the taste of your food. Olive oil, for example, can have quite a strong taste which can overpower delicate flavors.
- I like that it is really versatile and it can be used for many types of cooking. You can fry foods such as bacon and eggs. Make salad dressings and delicate sauces with it knowing the taste will not be overpowered with that of oil.
It is a useful alternative and replacement for unhealthy margarine spreads and high fat butter for cakes and home bakes.
Apart from cooking with, this oil can also be used as a massage oil. It is good for your homemade and DIY beauty preparations such as facial scrubs because it is a light and non-greasy oil and it is great for the skin.
It doesn't have any strong smell that many olive oils have so you should not mind using it in your daily beauty routine.
Sunflower Seeds Are a Healthy Treat to Snack On
The seeds of a sunflower plant are edible. They are a healthy and nutritious snack that can be eaten as part of a good, balanced diet. You can eat the seeds just as they are, roasted off for some extra flavor, sprinkle them on top of salads for a bit of crunch or use them when baking in cakes.
Because these seeds have many health benefits, they are a great addition to your diet.
Although you can eat the shells of these seeds, eating a lot of them can give you constipation and stomach ache. So, if you buy sunflower seeds to eat that still have the shells or the outer black hulls intact, you would normally chew and suck on them for the flavor and then spit the shells out.
It is more advisable to either spit out the shells or buy the hulled or shelled seeds, the kernels, which you can eat just as they are. Children should not eat the seeds if they have shells on.
You can also get sunflower seeds that are covered in chocolate. These make for treats which are somewhat good for you! Chocolate covered seeds look really great and they also taste delicious too.
No wonder so many people love these crunchy snacks. Chocolate covered kids can make very good party favors and are often used for weddings as a small gift for the guests.
A Great Seed for Bird Food: Small Songbirds in Our Backyard Love These
Black-oil, hulled or striped sunflower seed varieties are different types of bird feed that you can use for your backyard birds. Black-oil seed is regarded to be a premium variety said to help to attract a bigger selection of birds into your yard.
These seeds have thinner and softer outer shells or hulls which the birds can open more easily to extract the kernals that contain all the goodness within.
I will put out trays of these seeds during harsh winter weather since they are a good form of energy for the birds. I will also stuff over ripe fruit such as pears and de-stoned cherries with them.
Putting the food out at different heights will attract different bird varieties since some are ground feeders and some prefer to eat much higher up.
Our small birds love sunflower meats more than anything else and there is less mess because the birds eat all of these instead of dropping shells and hulls all over the ground.
The sunflower meats or hearts are the shelled or hulled internal kernals of the seeds. They tend to be more expensive but worth it because there is less waste and less mess in our yard.
Sunflowers As Blooming Beautiful Plants!
As garden plants, sunflowers can make for an amazing display. Although not all varieties are actually tall ones, they still stand out because of how large the flower heads are and how bright the range of yellow, orange and even red the petals are.
Many people think of these flowers as just being yellow but you can buy them with petals that come in a multitude of yellow, orange and red shades and some that have more than one color on each petal.
The combination of all these flower colors is just stunning and makes this flower an ideal one from Spring time through to Fall because of the shades that you can match up with typical colors of these seasons.
They make for a very bold and striking bouquet for your home and also for brides too and especially those looking for a more natural country style. I think they are beautiful as a simple and elegant wedding bouquet or as cut flowers which instantly cheer up the look of any home.
Sunflower Natural Dye Colors
This was a dwarf variety of a Sunflower that we grew. Smaller, dwarf plants look wonderful inside the home and grow well in pots and containers.
Image Credit: photo belongs to the author.
The colored petals of the sunflower plants can be used to make natural dyes which range in color shades from yellow to orange or a light tan. As well as the colorful petals, the seeds can also be used for natural dyes and particularly the Hopi variety which can produce grey to dark purple dye shades.
These dyes could be used to color fabrics and yarns too while avoiding using unnatural dyes and chemicals.
Even More Ways in Which Sunflowers Are or Have Been Used
Used for Making Paper. Sunflower stalks or stems have been used in the past to make paper. The stems have fiber from which paper can be manufactured. The Utilization of Sunflower Stalks in Paper Manufacture is an old publication from 1914 which features a study of making paper from cooking the stalks and then beating and bleaching the resulting pulp to make paper.
Providing Pretty and Edible Petals. As well as the seeds, you can apparently eat sunflower petals although I've never tried this. Refer to the edible flowers chart on WhatsCookingAmerica.net. The petals are also sold in a dried form for herbal tea blending and also to use as colorful additions to potpourris.
Feed for Livestock. Sunflowers are also used as feed for livestock and animals. Livestock are able to graze on sunflower fields where they can graze on the heads of the plant as well as most of the stalk. The heads contain most of the nutrition value since the seeds are high in energy and also have protein.
Making Non-Gluten GF Flour. The seeds were originally used by Native Americans where they were ground up to make flour for baking bread and cakes. You can buy sunflower flour and you can also make your own flour version at home where it is especially useful for those following a gluten free diet.
Removing Nuclear Radiation. The roots of this plant have been very effective at removing radiation from soil. They were used to clean up the Chernobyl disaster as well as Fukushima. They provide a real beacon of hope and healing. This amazing plant is now also the symbol of a nuclear weapon free world.
Perhaps now you can really get an appreciation of just why this plant, perhaps more than any other, is just so incredible. It has so many different uses and benefits and I'm sure we have more to discover in future too.
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