If you enjoy eating sunflower seeds, nutrition is just an added bonus with this tasty snack. Sunflower seeds are delicious and healthy, and can be used in a variety of different dishes to add crunch and flavor.
About Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds come from the center of the sunflower bloom and are encased in a hard black shell. The shells are edible, but many people prefer to eat the seeds without them. You can purchase sunflower seeds in a variety of ways, from roasted and salted to flavored.
The healthiest way to enjoy them is raw and unprocessed as all of the sunflower seeds nutrition will be intact, and you won't be ingesting added salt, oil, and chemical flavorings.
Sunflower Seeds Nutrition Information
Sunflower seeds pack a lot of nutrition into their tiny forms. They are good sources of oils, carbohydrates, protein, and more. Since they contain natural oils, their calorie and fat content can be high. Here is a quick breakdown of the nutrition facts for one cup of raw, unshelled sunflower seeds:
- Calories - 270
- Saturated Fat - 2 grams
- Unsaturated Fats - 19 grams
- Carbohydrates - 9.2 grams
- Fiber - 4 grams
- Protein - 9.6 grams
Sunflower seeds also contain 13% of the daily recommended intake of iron, and are completely free of cholesterol.
To compare, here's a look at one cup of shelled, toasted sunflower seeds:
- Calories - 830
- Saturated Fat - 8 grams
- Unsaturated Fats - 54 grams
- Carbohydrates - 28 grams
- Fiber - 15 grams
- Protein - 23 grams
As you can see, raw seeds with their hulls pack a lot less fat and carbohydrates, as well as considerably fewer calories. (Source: NutritionData.com)
Sunflower seeds are a terrific source of vitamin E, which acts as an excellent antioxidant. Vitamin E protects cells and membranes from disease and damage, and aids in the fight against heart disease and certain cancers.
The B complex vitamins are also present in sunflower seeds, particularly vitamins B1 and B5. Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamin, helps to convert sugars into energy. It also helps with muscular and cardiovascular systems, keeping them all functioning well. Vitamin B5 breaks down fats, protein, and carbohydrates.
Minerals are essential to the body, keeping all systems running effectively. It is important to make sure you get a wide variety of minerals in your diet on a daily basis. The following minerals, along with a brief description of their major functions in the body, are all found in sunflower seeds:
- Calcium - strengthens bones and teeth
- Copper - prevents inflammation and helps the body process iron
- Iron - helps in the formation of red blood cells and carries oxygen throughout the body
- Magnesium - helps the body absorb calcium and aids in regulating blood pressure
- Manganese - aids in forming connective tissue and stabilizes blood clotting
- Phosphorus - works with calcium to maintain bone strength, aids in liver function
- Potassium - regulates water and acidity, controls blood pressure
- Selenium - antioxidant, promotes cellular health
- Sodium - maintains healthy levels of acidity and water
- Zinc - boosts immunity and aids in digestion
Including Sunflower Seeds in Your Diet
It's easy to add sunflower seeds to your diet, either alone or as part of a recipe. Here are some simple ways to enjoy them.
- Grab a handful of sunflower seeds as a snack, or add them to a mix of nuts and dried fruits.
- Sprinkle shelled sunflower seeds over a salad.
- Add seeds to cooked oatmeal for a nutty crunch, or stir into yogurt with some chopped fresh fruit for a tasty breakfast or snack.
- Add a small amount of toasted sunflower seeds over steamed vegetables, such as broccoli or asparagus.
- Use them in your favorite muffin or bread recipes to add a bit of protein and fiber. They can be stirred into the batter or sprinkled over the top of the bread or muffins before baking.
Sunflower seeds taste great and pack a nice nutritional punch. Throw a handful of sunflower seeds into a small container for a portable snack on the go, which will give you a quick energy boost.