4 Unexpected Reasons to Love Sunflowers

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Besides looking perfect in fall photos, these gentle giants provide us with nutritional, environmental, and beauty benefits.

It’s no surprise sunflowers get so much attention with their massive presence and big, happy petals. We especially love them right now because it’s that time of year when our organic farmer friends, Barefoot Botanicals, harvest their organic sunflower seeds to press into oil— a star ingredient in our nourishing skin, hair, and body products. Now that winter is rolling around so many of us are looking to protect our skin and hair from becoming dry. Perfect timing, right? But sunflowers don’t just provide natural beauty remedies, they yield a number of health and environmental benefits, too. So we decided to give a celebratory ode to our sunny friends by highlighting a list of the top four reasons to love them.

1. Sunflower oil heals skin and hair

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Pressed from the ripe seeds of organically grown sunflowers, sunflower seed oil is rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects skin from oxidative damage like environmental chemicals and UV rays that can lead to wrinkles, edema, and dangerous sun damage. For locks, this damage may result frizzy or brittle texture. So if you’re in need of some extra TLC during these restorative months, you’ll love our lush Hair and Body oil. For stronger, shinier hair, try our Heavy Duty Conditioner, which also has healing camelina seed oil, coconut, shea butter. Both from-the-flower products have powerful nourishing properties to help you glow all season. And, hey, we’re not picking favorites but in a randomized study sunflower seed oil hydrated and maintained a healthier skin barrier compared to olive oil.

2. They attract pollinators to food crops

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Not unlike us humans, honey bees, butterflies, and beetles flock to tall sunflowers for their brightly colored petals. But pollinators are a bit more interested in indulging their troves of pollen and nectar and less so in snapping a cute photo. In a mutually beneficial dance, winged friends move about sunflowers collecting nutrients while fertilizing the flower for the next generation of seed, explain researchers from Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. It’s not uncommon for farmers to plant dense patches around their fruit and vegetable crops to invite these bugs to the area. Why? A casual 70% of all crops traded on the world market in some way count on pollinators to sustain crop diversity and production. Tiny bugs, big job.

3. Their seeds make a nutritious snack

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Thrown into a salad, ground into creamy butter, or simply by the handful, sunflower seeds are the perfect throw-and-go snack. Not only do they pack a nutty, salty flavor, they contain lots of magnesium, a mineral around 48% of people are not getting enough of. Low-magnesium can lead to symptoms like fatigue and muscle cramps. Sound familiar? Adding just one cup of these seeds to your daily diet helps you reach the Recommended Daily Amount and may even prompt a better night sleep. They’re also rich in vitamin E, which works to reduce inflammation by neutralizing harming free-radicals in the body. And, maybe the best part, sunflower seeds are more affordable than some other nuts (cough, cough, macadamia) so they can more comfortably fit into a mindful grocery budget.

4. They pull heavy metals from the soil

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Dense sunflower fields are sometimes planted not for their beauty but for their ability to pull toxins from soil, a process called phytoremediation. “Their size makes them ‘hyper-accumulators’ meaning their root systems quickly remove, transfer, and destroy contaminants in the soil,” explains Susan Brandt, Co-Founder of Blooming Secrets. In fact, the detoxing power of sunflowers was not lost on citizens and officials cleaning up the aftermath of Chernobyl and Fukushima, two devastating nuclear accidents. Fields of sunflowers were planted to reclaim contaminated land from radioactive caesium and a lend a bit of hope to the community.