Sunflower seeds

Healthy Eating Advisor
Ask Felicity

15 May 2018

An introduction to sunflower seeds

Sunflowers, which belong to the daisy family, have been used for thousands of years. Native Americans for example, grew them as far back as 2000 years ago and then harvested the seeds. So, long ago they recognised the benefits of this little seed and now we do the same as they are readily available in supermarkets and health food stores. 

Varieties of sunflower seeds

From tall and short, to red and yellow, sunflowers come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. From these variable plants come sunflower seeds which will differ in terms of size, shape and colour depending on which type of sunflower they’ve come from. The type most often consumed is black and is called a black oil sunflower seed.

Nutritional information

Sunflower seeds can be eaten raw by themselves or, equally, they make an excellent meal when mixed with dried fruits such as raisins, apples, figs and apricots. Also, for a super deluxe meal, add currants and other nuts such as walnuts, cashews, almonds, and raw roasted but unsalted peanuts to the above.

Sunflowers are rich in vitamins A and B, as well as protein, iron, calcium and carbohydrates. So, it’s practically a super food in terms of the benefits it gives the body!

Try keeping some on hand, in the house or in the car, to munch on when you have a busy schedule. Children love mixed nuts and fruits and it is much healthier for them to eat this mixture than cakes or other sweets.

The nutritional value for 25g of dried sunflower seeds are as follows: 196 calories, 13g fat, 5g carbohydrates, 5g protein.

Health benefits

So, as mentioned, sunflower seeds are great to munch on however, the vitamins and minerals inside also mean that these little seeds provide us with a host of health benefits too. 

The protein content for example, helps your body to create, maintain and repair bone, muscle, cartilage, skin and blood cells. This means it’s absolutely essential for the proper functioning of your body. Most protein is obtained from eggs and meat however, if you’re vegan or vegetarian sunflower seeds are another option.

Vitamin A, which is also provided by sunflower seeds, is primarily needed to maintain eye and skin health. However, it’s also thought to be important in supporting the immune system in its defence against viruses and infection.

B vitamins are also found in high quantities in sunflower seeds. These vitamins are important for converting carbohydrates into energy and carbohydrates are needed to provide a steady source of energy. Just what you need to see you through a morning at work or to pick you up in afternoon slump!

Sunflower seed recipes

Potato bake with avocado, mushrooms and seeds

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