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You might have seen people consuming sunflower seeds as part of their daily diet to maintain good health, like treating hair fall, maintaining a healthy heart, lowering blood pressure, and more. So let’s learn how to eat sunflower seeds.
Plant seeds are edible and hold high nutritional value offering several health benefits. But what are these sunflower seeds? Are sunflower seeds good? In what ways do they contribute to our health? Do they support our human health? How to eat sunflower seeds? We shall discuss eating and adding sunflower seeds to your diet below.
1. Sunflower Plant
Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) is a plant that blooms during summer in full sun with a daisy-like flower face. They are abundant in healthy fats with gainful and beneficial plant compounds, vitamins, and minerals that help with various health problems like heart disease and diabetes.
2. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are healthy and edible tiny seeds reaped from the flower head of the sunflower plant. Sunflower crops are of two types. One type of farmed crop is for the seeds, and another type is for the oil (sunflower oil).
These seeds are the plant’s fruits enclosed in a black-and-white striped shell. These shells are called hulls. Additionally, they have a nutty flavor with a firm but tender texture. The ones utilized for extracting sunflower oil possess a solid black shell.
Typically, the sunflower plant’s large flower heads measure over 12 inches, equal to 30.5 cm in diameter. A single sunflower head can contain up to 2000 seeds.
Sunflower seeds form a part of a healthy snack in multi-grain bread, trail mix, and nutrition bars. Also, people consume them either raw or roasted. Let us find out the benefits of these seeds.
3. Nutritional Value of Sunflower Seeds
How to eat sunflower seeds? Sunflower seeds have high protein content, especially in sunflower seed kernels, and are rich in healthy fats that help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. The primary nutrient serving in 1 ounce equal to 30 grams or 1/4 cup of dry roasted sunflower seeds are as follows:
Calories – 165
Total fat – 14 grams
Saturated fat – 1.5 grams
Polyunsaturated fat – 9.2 grams
Monounsaturated fat – 2.7 grams
Protein – 5.5 grams
Carbohydrates – 6.5 grams
Fiber – 3 grams
Vitamin E – 37% of RDI*
Niacin – 10% of RDI*
Vitamin B6 – 11% of RDI*
Folate – 17% of RDI*
Pantothenic Acid – 20% of RDI*
Iron – 6% of RDI*
Magnesium – 9% of RDI*
Zinc – 10% of RDI*
Copper – 26% of RDI*
Manganese – 30% of RDI*
Selenium – 32% of RDI* (*RDI – Reference Daily Intake)
With high calories (165), it is advisable to eat sunflower seeds limited to a quarter cup at a time. Also, we can infer that these seeds are high in Vitamin E (37%) and Selenium (32%), which act as antioxidants and aid against several chronic diseases.
Vitamin E also helps with proper immune function and protects from cell damage. Selenium help supports thyroid function and reproductive health.
The other nutrients, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, and Magnesium, help with immune function and maintaining healthy bones. The B Vitamins like Vitamin B6 and Folate help with metabolism, enzymatic reactions, and other body processes.
The seeds are also a source of other plant compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids1, which act as antioxidants.
4. Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Here are some health benefits of sunflower seeds.
4.1. Supports Healthy Heart
Sunflower seeds contain essential nutrients like minerals, vitamins, fibers, and healthy fats to keep the heart healthy. Sunflower seeds of a three-fourths cup serving have 14 grams of fat.
Studies show that a healthy diet with sunflower seeds reduces the risk of heart disease. It also lowers the rate of high blood pressure and cholesterol, as they lead to heart attacks. A study from the National Library of Medicine (NIH) shows that women who have type-2 diabetes suffered lowered risk factors of cardiovascular disease2 with daily consumption of sunflower seeds.
Unsaturated fatty acids like Linoleic Acid make a compound that helps to relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Magnesium in the seeds also assists with blood sugar regulation. Other nutrients like proteins and fibers help to maintain blood sugar levels.
4.2. Reduces Inflammation
Sunflower seeds offer anti-inflammatory benefits with Vitamin E, Chlorogenic Acid, flavonoids, and other plant compounds that help reduce chronic inflammation.
Research conducted by PubMed.gov of the National Library of Medicine (NIH) on 6000 US adults reports that those who ate sunflower seeds and other seeds five times a week experienced lower inflammation.
4.3. Uplifts Energy Levels
As proteins in the seeds boost energy levels, the B vitamins like Folate (B9) and Vitamin B6 keep the body energized and active during the day. Selenium 3also helps improve blood flow and transfer more oxygen into the body.
4.4. Supports Immune System
With a high source of vitamins and minerals like Zinc and Selenium, sunflower seeds support the immune system and improve the ability to fight viruses. Zinc aids the body, maintaining and helping develop immune cells. Selenium helps fight infection and boosts immunity.
5. How To Eat Sunflower Seeds
Based on the above discussion, we understood well about sunflower seeds and their benefits. Then how about eating sunflower seeds? What are the ways to add sunflower seeds to meals? Sunflower seeds are available in the form of shells and shelled kernels in the market. How to eat sunflower seeds? Let us get started knowing how to eat a sunflower seed.
5.1. Eating Raw
Sunflower seeds get sold with their shells unbroken. The outer layer of the shelled sunflower seed looks black. It is not preferable to eat shelled seeds.
To consume them raw, you crack open the shelled sunflower seeds with your teeth. Then separate the seeds in the shell. Spit out the shell and eat the seeds.
5.2. Eating Roasted or Flavored
If you wish to have some taste or flavor, you can consume roasted sunflower seeds. Some people love consuming salted seeds. You can buy flavored and roasted seeds from authentic food and spice shops.
- You can experiment with different seasonings and spices to add flavor to your roasted sunflower seeds. Try tossing them with spices like chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, or a sprinkle of your favorite herbs.
- If you prefer unsalted sunflower seeds, you can skip the saltwater soaking step and proceed directly to roasting.
5.3. Eating in Powder Form
If you love baking, you can make a sunflower seed powder. Grate the sunflower seeds until it becomes a fine powder. Mix this powder in the flour and baked goods like muffins, bread batters, cakes, and more. It thereby improves the nutritional benefits of baked goods4.
Sunflower seed powder offers a convenient and nutritious way to enjoy the benefits of sunflower seeds in a versatile format. Get creative with your culinary endeavors and explore the various ways you can incorporate this flavorful powder into your favorite recipes.
5.4. Adding To Dishes
You can have a tasty diet by adding shelled sunflower seeds for lunch, snacks, and dinner in plenty of ways, as follows:
Sprinkling over a stir-fry or mixed vegetables.
Sprinkling on top of salads and pasta.
Stirring it into an oatmeal sprinkle.
Adding to veggie burgers mix.
Replacing peanut butter with sunflower butter.
Using sunflower oil instead of coconut oil.
Adding to a trail mix.
5.5. Adding To Eggs
While preparing the batter for an omelet or scrambled eggs, add dill pickle or parmesan with sunflower seeds. It gives more crunchiness and adds more flavor to the batter.
Adding sunflower seeds to your eggs not only adds a delightful crunch but also introduces a nutritious element to your breakfast or brunch. Give it a try and enjoy the combination of flavors and textures in this simple yet satisfying dish.
5.6. Eating Butter Form
You can make hands-on sunflower seed butter. The three ingredients required for its preparation – are sunflower seeds, sea salt, and sugar. To make it more buttery and creamy, add sunflower oil to it. Then apply it to slices of bread, or add it to sauces and smoothies.
6. Downsides of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds have high calories and sodium content. Consume about 30 grams in a day to maintain weight. Also, with high sodium, the salt intake becomes higher. Also, unshelled sunflower seeds are high in added salt. Instead of salted sunflower seeds, eat shelled unsalted ones.
Another reason for moderate consumption is that the sunflower seeds have a high amount of cadmium that can harm kidneys.
Sprouted seeds are one popular method of preparation that contain harmful bacteria and cause food poisoning. Allergies to sunflower seed pollen during harvest or bird feed are a common issue in people.
How to eat sunflower seeds? Sunflower seeds are excellent nutrients as part of a healthy diet. Incorporating them into your daily diet will maintain a balanced life free5 of health issues. On the other hand, also check for its downsides and consume it wisely in a required proportion.
Sunflower seeds are a versatile and nutritious addition to your diet. Whether you enjoy them raw, roasted, or incorporated into various dishes, they provide a satisfying crunch, along with essential nutrients.
From salads and baked goods to homemade spreads and energy bars, the options are endless when it comes to incorporating sunflower seeds into your meals and snacks. So go ahead, get creative, and start enjoying the benefits of this delightful seed in your everyday eating habits.
- Robbins, Rebecca J. “Phenolic acids in foods: an overview of analytical methodology.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 51.10 (2003): 2866-2887. ↩︎
- Mozaffarian, Dariush, Peter WF Wilson, and William B. Kannel. “Beyond established and novel risk factors: lifestyle risk factors for cardiovascular disease.” Circulation 117.23 (2008): 3031-3038. ↩︎
- Rayman, Margaret P. “Selenium and human health.” The Lancet 379.9822 (2012): 1256-1268. ↩︎
- Gómez, Manuel, and Mario M. Martinez. “Fruit and vegetable by-products as novel ingredients to improve the nutritional quality of baked goods.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 58.13 (2018): 2119-2135. ↩︎
- Frank, B. R. “Constraints limiting innovation adoption in the north Queensland beef industry. I: A socio-economic means of maintaining a balanced lifestyle.” Agricultural Systems 47.3 (1995): 291-321. ↩︎