Latin name: Helianthus annuus (sunflower)
What are Sunflower Seeds?
The sunflower seed, a fruit of the sunflower, is actually more accurately called a sunflower kernel, when stripped of its pericarp, or hull. Although in-shell sunflower seeds are particularly popular in Mediterranean countries, in other regions they are often purchased already de-hulled.
Roasted or raw, sunflower seeds are often eaten alone as a snack, sprinkled in salads, or baked into bread. High in healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fats, linoleic sunflower oil is gaining popularity worldwide as cooking oil.
What are the health benefits of Sunflower Seeds?
Sunflower seeds are a heart-healthy food, by virtue of their rich supply of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. Nutritionally, sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, certain amino acids, vitamin E, B vitamins (particularly vitamin B1, B5, and folate), and such minerals as magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, iron, selenium, phosphorus, calcium, and zinc.
The healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats in sunflower seeds can help lower your risk of heart disease by reducing cholesterol levels in your blood. Additionally, a quarter cup of sunflower seeds contains nearly 20 mg of vitamin E, about 90% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E. This antioxidant vitamin protects against free radical damage, maintaining health at the cellular level, and also helps lower cholesterol.
Sunflower seed’s content of vitamin B1 helps cells convert carbohydrates into energy, a necessity for your nervous system, muscle and heart functions. Its supply of vitamin B5 aids in hormone production, food metabolism, and the formation of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol. The folate contributes to healthy brain function and is an essential nutrient for pregnant women.
Are there any precautions for eating Sunflower Seeds?
Raw seeds can cause digestive issues; one way to mitigate this is to sprout sunflower seeds overnight. Also, sunflower seeds may cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.
Where can I find Sunflower Seeds?
Sunflower seeds can be found in grocery stores and health food stores.
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