Quick Facts on Sunflower Seeds
- Technically, sunflower seeds are the fruits of the sunflower plant (Helianthus annuus).
- The seeds are harvested from the plant’s large flower heads, which can measure up to 12 inches or 30.5 cm in diameter. A single sunflower head may contain around 2,000 seeds.
- It is important to know that there are two main types of sunflower crops. One type is grown for the seeds you eat and the other is grown for the oil.
- The sunflower seeds you eat are found inside inedible black-and-white striped shells, also called hulls. The ones used for extracting sunflower oil have solid black shells.
- Sunflower seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and a firm but tender texture. They’re often roasted to enhance the flavor. They can also be eaten raw though.
- Their mild nutty taste makes them a filling along with nutritious food.
- These seeds are highly nutritious as they contain calories, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Sunflower Seeds Nutrition
The main nutrients in 1 ounce (30 grams or 1/4 cup) of shelled, dry-roasted sunflower seeds are:
- Calories: 163
- Saturated Fat: 14 grams
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.5 grams
- Monounsaturated Fat: 9.2 grams
- Protein: 2.7 grams
- Carbs: 5.5 grams
- Fiber: 6.5 grams
- Vitamin E: 3 grams
- Niacin: 37% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 10 % of the RDI
- Folate: 11% of the RDI
- Pantothenic Acid: 17% of the RDI
- Iron: 20% of the RDI
- MAgnesium: 6% of the RDI
- Zinc: 9% of the RDI
- Copper: 10% of the RDI
- Manganese: 26% of the RDI
- Selenium: 32% of the RDI
Sunflower seeds are particularly high in vitamin E and selenium. These function as antioxidants to protect cells in your body against free radical damage, which plays a role in many chronic diseases. Moreover, sunflower seeds are a good source of beneficial plant compounds, including phenolic acids and flavonoids — which also play the role of antioxidants.
Sunflower Seeds Health Benefits
Protect from Heart Diseases
As you know high blood pressure is a major cause for heart diseases, which can further lead to a heart attack. A compound in sunflower seeds blocks an enzyme that causes blood vessels to constrict. As a result, it may help your blood vessels relax, lowering your blood pressure. The magnesium in sunflower seeds helps reduce blood pressure levels as well. Additionally, sunflower seeds are imbued with unsaturated fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. Your body uses linoleic acid to make a hormone-like compound that relaxes blood vessels, promoting lower blood pressure. This fatty acid also helps lower cholesterol.
Help in Weight Loss
Boosting fiber intake is one simple step you can take to support weight loss. As fiber absorbs water, it swells in your stomach and slows down digestion. As a result, fiber makes you feel full for a longer period of time, which makes it easier to eat less. Sunflower seeds are high in fiber content and thus propel weight loss.
Sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium which strengthens your bones beside calcium. Most of the magnesium in the body is present in our bones and helps provide bones their physical structure while the rest is located on the surface of the bones where it is stored for the body to be used as per its requirement. These seeds also contain copper which is vital for the function of enzymes involved in cross-linking collagen and elastin, thus providing strength and flexibility in bones and joints.
Vitamin E in sunflower seeds is the body’s major fat-soluble antioxidant. This vitamin travels throughout the body while neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise cause harm to brain cells and cholesterol. Thus, vitamin E exhibits significant anti-inflammatory effects, resulting in the reduction of diseases caused by free radicals and inflammation such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Sunflower seeds have a positive effect on your mood as it reduces the risk of depression. They contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps produce serotonin, an important neurotransmitter. When serotonin is released in our bodies, it alleviates tension, calms the brain and leads to relaxation. Choline, another compound found in sunflower seeds helps in improving memory and cognitive function. Magnesium helps reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure and prevents heart attack, soreness, and fatigue.
- Stress Buster
- Prevents Cancer
- Promotes Cell Formation
- Reduces Risk of Infection in Infants
- Healthy Digestive System
- Skin Protection and Maintenance
How to Eat Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are sold either in the shell or as shelled kernels. Shelled sunflower seeds are more versatile. These are the ways you can eat them:
- Add to trail mix.
- Stir into homemade granola bars.
- Sprinkle on a leafy green salad.
- Stir into hot or cold cereal.
- Sprinkle over fruit or yogurt parfaits.
- Add to stir-fries.
- Stir into tuna or chicken salad.
- Sprinkle over sautéed vegetables.
- Add to veggie burgers.
- Use in place of pine nuts in pesto.
- Top casseroles.
- Grind the seeds and use as a coating for fish.
- Add to baked goods, such as bread and muffins.
- Dip an apple or banana in sunflower seed butter.
Note: Sunflower seeds may turn blue-green when baked. This is due to a harmless chemical reaction between the seed’s chlorogenic acid and baking soda but you can reduce the amount of baking soda to minimize this reaction.
Sunflower Seeds Recipes
No-Bake Granola Bars Recipe
These chewy bars supply a surprisingly scrumptious flavor with the nutrients you need in a concoction that is easy to create. Enjoy this as a quick snack on any day of the week.
Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding Recipe
This pudding can be the best way to start your day with the rich flavor of pumpkin complemented by the crunch of your favorite nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds make tastiest toppings for this superb meal that is surprisingly healthy. Try it out today!
Homemade Granola Bars Recipe
For a more conventional bar with a crispy crunch that will delight your tongue and tantalize your taste buds, try this recipe for a fruit-filled bar that will satiate your midday hunger pangs.
So start looking for ways to include sunflower seeds in your daily diet regimen. Besides eating seeds in raw form, you can also mix a few seeds in your cold or hot beverage or sprinkle them over salads and other food servings as mentioned above. No matter how you eat sunflower seeds, you can reap the full benefits of the primary nutrients that are contained in each crunchy kernel.