Helianthus annuus, the common sunflower, is a large annual forb of the genus Helianthus grown as a crop for its edible oil and edible fruits (sunflower seeds). It grows up to 3m in height with coarsely hairy leaves and stems. The terminal flowers heads are large and showy, up to 5 in. across. A tall, coarse leafy plant with a hairy stem commonly branched in the upper half and bearing several or many flower heads, the central maroon disk surrounded by many bright yellow rays. The plant was first domesticated in the Americas. Wild Helianthus annuus is a widely branched annual plant with many flower heads. The domestic sunflower, however, often possesses only a single large inflorescence (flower head) atop an unbranched stem. The name sunflower may derive from the flower's head's shape, which resembles the sun, or from the false impression that the blooming plant appears to slowly turn its flower towards the sun as the latter moves across the sky on a daily basis. Sunflower seeds were brought to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. From there they were introduced to Australia where they are harvested predominantly in Queensland and NSW. However, there is an emerging industry in Western Australia, particularly in the Ord river catchment and in the south-west of the state as a summer rotational crop.
Sunflower oil is extremely powerful at keeping away bacteria and maintaining youthful skin, and contains a rich mixture of vitamins and other natural substances. It is very high in antioxidants, particularly the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, which prevent free radicals from damaging your skin and creating wrinkles and the appearance of premature aging. As an antioxidant, Vitamin E, in the sunflower oil, also acts as moisturizer, by helping the body cells retain water inside them.
Sunflower oil contains the following nutrients: Palmitic acid, Stearic acid, Lecithin, Tocopherols, Carotenoids, Selenium, Proteins, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Omega-6 fatty acids. Sunflower oil is an all-natural, healthy way to heal skin and maintain its health; and its calming and emollient (moisturizing) properties have been known for years. Sunflower oil has many medicinal and cosmetic uses and may be helpful if you are suffering from acne, eczema, inflammation, general redness and irritation of the skin. It’s also a great product to use on your newborn baby for extra skin protection. Sunflower Oil is rich in essential fatty acids. It is easily absorbed with a light texture, and can be used on all skin types.
Sunflower seeds, often eaten raw or roasted, are a good source of protein and Vitamins D, E, K, and B. Some of the health benefits of sunflower oil include its ability to improve heart health, boost energy, strengthen the immune system, improve your skin health, lower cholesterol, protect against asthma and reduce inflammation.
Sunflower oil contains Vitamin E, which is an emollient that helps trap moisture inside skin cells. This oil is a favourite for cosmetic applications particularly as it is beneficial for dry and oily skin complexions and moisturizes the skin without causing an oily sheen. Sunflower oil is used widely cosmetic products, anti-aging creams, acne treatments, hair oils, eczema treatments, face and body cleaners and moisturisers, body butters and lotions, bath products, hair masks and treatments, shampoos and conditioners and balms.
Sunflower oil is also used in cooking.