Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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Healthy Food Tip
Can you eat too many sunflower seeds?

Yes, a person can eat too many sunflower seeds. It's possible to eat too much of any individual food. That's why it's so important for each of us to develop our own individual Healthiest Way of Eating. In the specific case of sunflower seeds, here are some of the ways in which too many sunflower seeds might become problematic.
First is the issue of calories. One cup of sunflower seeds contains approximately 800 calories. That amount is 40% of an entire day's calories if you are following a 2,000-calorie diet. You would only be left with 1,200 calories' worth of food to provide you with all of the nutrients that are missing from sunflower seeds. Even though sunflower seeds are a very nutrient-rich food, there are many important nutrients that sunflower seeds do not contain, or contain in extremely small amounts. These nutrients include vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene, and many others (particularly in the phytonutrient category, including lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthan, and a wide variety of flavonoids). It would be very difficult for a person to get optimal amounts of these other nutrients from the calories that remained after consuming 800 calories' worth of sunflower seeds.
Second is the issue of balance. In and of themselves, sunflower seeds cannot provide a person with the correct balance of nutrients. A person might need a very different ratio of calcium-to-magnesium than the ratio that sunflower seeds provide. The same might be true for a ratio of zinc-to-copper, or a ratio of protein-to-carbohydrate. As nutrient-rich as sunflower seeds are in certain nutrient areas, they are unlikely to help a diet become balanced if they take up 40% of the total calories in that diet.
Finally, there is the question of purpose. What would be the purpose of consuming as many sunflower seeds as a person wanted, especially if that amount was unhealthy? Excessive consumption of any food-even a very healthy food like sunflower seeds-can sometimes involve an approach that works against our best interests. For example, there are times when we might crave and overconsume a food when we actually have an allergy to that food. (While sunflower seeds are not a commonly allergenic food, this pattern could still be possible.) At times, we may also overconsume a food that is especially convenient and "easy to grab," just as a way of making do when we haven't done any food planning for the day.
All of these issues point to the same conclusion: eating too much of a single food-even a healthy food like sunflower seeds-carries along with it some added risks in terms of nourishment and well-being. We're much better off keeping our favorite food consumption in a moderate range and increasing the frequency with which we eat those favorite foods.
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