Organic sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are considered a real domestic “superfood” because they are rich in healthy fats, various vitamins, minerals, and trace elements as well as high-quality protein. Among the Incas this beautiful flower was revered as an image of the sun god. Spanish sailors brought it to Europe in the 16th century, where it was initially popular as an ornamental plant. But it was quickly realized that sunflower seeds are valuable as a nutritious and tasty dietary enhancement. And so today, sunflowers delight not only the eye with their large, bright yellow flowers, but also the palate with their seeds.
Seeds of all possible varieties and the versatile sunflower oil have become indispensable in shopping baskets. Organic sunflower seeds are also an important ingredient in our BERTRAND liquid meals.
Sunflower seeds are considered a real domestic “superfood” because they are rich in healthy fats, various vitamins, minerals, and trace elements as well as high-quality protein. Among the Incas this beautiful flower was revered as an image of the sun god. Spanish sailors brought it to Europe in the 16th century, where it was initially popular as an ornamental plant. But it was quickly realized that sunflower seeds are valuable as a nutritious and tasty dietary enhancement. And so today, sunflowers delight not only the eye with their large, bright yellow flowers, but also the palate with their seeds. Seeds of all possible varieties and the versatile sunflower oil have become indispensable in shopping baskets. Organic sunflower seeds are also an important ingredient in our BERTRAND liquid meals.
Where do our organic sunflower seeds come from?
We obtain the organic sunflower seeds for our products from organic farmers in Hungary, mainly from the region around Lake Balaton. The area around Lake Balaton offers excellent climatic and soil conditions. Along with France, Bulgaria, and Romania, Hungary is one of the main sunflower growing areas in Europe. Although cultivation is increasing in Germany, 90 percent of the sunflower seeds processed here are still imported. This applies especially to organic farming. About 50 million tons of conventional and organic sunflower seeds are harvested worldwide. Here at BERTRAND we rely on our trusted suppliers in Hungary with whom we maintain long-term partnerships. This allows us to guarantee that our sunflower seeds are of high quality.
How are the sunflower seeds processed?
The seeds of the sunflower (botanical: Helianthus annuus L.) grow in the base of the flower head surrounded by striking yellow petals. Large flowers can contain up to 2,000 seeds. Since up to 70,000 sunflowers can be grown on one hectare of land, the yield per hectare is up to 140 million sunflower seeds. Incidentally, the beautiful flowers are so-called “compass plants”; the budding flower heads align themselves throughout the day according to the position of the sun. Unfortunately, they lose this remarkable characteristic as soon as they have fully come into bloom.
UNDER THE SUN OF LAKE BALATON
We cooperate with organic farmers from Hungary, who plant the sunflowers in their fields according to ecological rules. The plant is a warm germinator and continues to prefer warmth while growing. It does not do well in cold soils, and late spring frosts can even lead to complete crop failure. Thus, the moderately warm and sunny region around Lake Balaton, where our organic sunflower seeds come from, is a very favorable place for growing them.
THE TIME MUST BE RIGHT
In late summer, around mid-September, the ripe sunflower seeds can be harvested. The farmer can recognize the appropriate harvest time by the fact that the inner kernels are easy to crack and to free from the husk. The inside of the core is then nice and soft. The underside of the flower head turns brown and the leaves die off. The humidity of the plant must not exceed 15 percent. For harvesting, appropriately prepared combine harvesters, special sunflower cutters or converted corn pickers are used.
THE SEED IS CUT OUT
After harvesting, the crop usually has to be dried, after which the kernels are threshed out. The seeds are separated from the stems and other parts of the plant. When the moisture level of the seeds drops to eight percent, the sunflower seeds are ready to be stored. The plant remains usually go on to be reused: Pectin can be extracted from the basket bottoms and compost material from the stems and leaves.
COOL AND DRY
The kernels are finally freed from their hard shells, as these can no longer be used. It is then essential that they be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. Otherwise they tend to become rancid. It is therefore best to strive for the shortest possible storage time in order to preserve the full taste and the valuable contents of the kernels.
SHORTLY BEFORE BOTTLING
Not until immediately before the production of the actual BERTRAND liquid meals are the whole organic sunflower seeds carefully ground into a powder in our factory. Unlike grinding, trituration prevents too much oil from escaping from the kernel, which could cause the powder to become too moist. It would also heavily contaminate the mill.
But why sunflower seeds?
Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Good fats and dietary fiber supplement the range of valuable, healthy ingredients. In addition, the little seeds have an excellent flavor. For our BERTRAND liquid meals we value the mildly nutty, lush, and highly characteristic aroma. But the nutrients are particularly important to us.
Vitamins in organic sunflower seeds
With plenty of fat-soluble vitamin E (38.8 mg/100 g), sunflower seeds provide us with an effective antioxidant that protects our cells from oxidative stress. The seeds also provide the important water-soluble B vitamins B1, B3, and B6. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is involved in energy production. Vitamin B3 (niacin) supports the buildup and breakdown of carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acids. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) promotes the formation of messenger substances in the nervous system. The entire vitamin B complex is an important regulator of the metabolism. The vitamins A, D, and K are also contained in the “domestic superfood”. Vitamin A (retinol) is important for the skin and mucous membranes, vitamin D (calciferol) for our bones and vitamin K (phylloquinone) is involved in blood clotting. In addition there is folic acid for nerve metabolism and cell division.
Minerals and trace elements in our sunflower seeds
In terms of magnesium (336 mg/100 g), sunflower seeds are almost unbeatable. Magnesium is involved in signal transmission in the muscle, in the storage and release of hormones, and it activates the enzymes of the energy metabolism. It is also good for the bones. Iron is also abundant in the little power packs. Those who avoid meat will find a good source of iron, especially in combination with protein and vitamin C. Iron plays an important role in blood formation and in the storage and transport of oxygen in the body. Zinc, which is also present in significant amounts, stimulates the immune system and is part of the antioxidant defense system. Sunflower seeds are also a good source of selenium. Selenium is involved in thyroid metabolism and affects blood clotting. Last but not least, we should mention copper, which in combination with iron regulates blood formation and protects against free radicals.
Dietary fiber in sunflower seeds
Up to nine percent dietary fiber can be found in the tasty seeds. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) points out that today’s diet with its lack of vegetables, fruits, and nuts has led to a significantly reduced dietary fiber intake. It recommends about 30 grams of fiber per day. According to the DGE, people who consume a lot of these indigestible food components have significantly reduced risk of diet-related diseases (obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease). The dietary fibers of sunflower seeds are water-insoluble. They increase stool weight and volume. In this way they ensure smooth bowel function and counteract constipation. Fiber also prolongs the feeling of fullness and counteracts cravings.
- Picture of the sunflower field in the upper part of the page: trusjom via shutterstock
- European map: teka12 via Shutterstock
- Post picture, sunflower seeds on white background: Hekla via shutterstock