Sunflower Seeds: The Superfood You Might Be Missing Out On

March 18, 2020 0 Comments

sunflower seeds nutrition benefits

What are Sunflower Seeds? 

Sunflower seeds, as the name suggests, are seeds of a sunflower. To be more precise, the fruits of a sunflower. 

A sunflower contains about 1000 to 1500 fruits, these are the black clusters in the middle of the sunflower. 

The black skin of the fruit is round on one side and tapered on the other. Without the shell, the kernels are typically cream colored. 

Sunflower seeds are aromatic, taste sweet and slightly nutty. The sunflower seed oil is extracted from the kernels. While peeled seeds are mainly used as bird feed. 

Seeds are harvested in September and October, but available all year round.

The seeds were initially used as an ornamental plant and it wasn’t until the 17th century that the fruits were used for baking or roasted as a substitute for coffee. 

Today, there are huge sunflower fields in the US, Russia, China and all over Europe, which provide for new supplies of sunflower seeds and sunflower oil.

Sunflower seeds are healthy, affordable and can be used in many ways. You can eat them as a snack, use them for cooking or baking, or squeeze out high-quality oil. 

Here's a quick overview of what's in this article:

How healthy are sunflower seeds
How to use sunflower seeds
Where to buy sunflower seeds
What to look for when buying
How to store sunflower seeds properly
How long do sunflower seeds last
Health benefits of sunflower seeds
How to prepare sunflower seeds
Can you grow sunflower seeds yourself
Sunflower seeds recipes

How healthy are sunflower seeds? 

Dietary fiber

There are 15 grams of fiber in 100 grams of our sunflower seeds. A very high and good value. It is advisable to consume enough fiber per day to boost digestion.

Unsaturated fatty acids

The high content of unsaturated fatty acids in sunflower seeds include linoleic acid, which lowers cholesterol level. 28 grams of sunflower seeds contain 8 grams of linoleic acid. There is also a high proportion of folic acid, the B vitamin important in pregnancy and breastfeeding women.

Protein

Sunflower seeds are a very good source of vegetable protein. They contain more protein than most meats. No wonder you can find them in the kitchens of many vegetarians and vegans. 

Minerals

The seeds contain important minerals like calcium and magnesium. If you have frequent leg cramps due to magnesium deficiency, try snacking on sunflower seeds. 

Sunflower seeds are also rich in magnesium (336 mg), vitamin E (38.8 mg), vitamin B1 (1.9 mg), B3 (11.2 mg) and B6 (1.3 mg). Already 60 grams cover the daily requirement of vitamin B1. Iron, copper and zinc are also abundant in the cores.

sunflower seeds protein minerals

Vitamins

There are also many vitamins in sunflower seeds. These include vitamins A, E, B and K. According to a WHO study, vitamin E deficiency is the main risk factor for heart attacks. People with low vitamin E levels are three times more likely to develop angina. 

Sunflower seeds contain vitamin A which strengthens eyesight, B vitamins provide strong nerves and help prevent heart disease. Vitamin D regulates the calcium metabolism; Vitamin K ensures good blood clotting.

Calories

Sunflower seeds have around 666 calories per 100 grams. If you sprinkle two tablespoons into your salad, that's around 200 calories. 

They are also suitable as a topping on salads and popular ingredients in bread. 

However, as with all foods, you should also pay attention to the right measure here: 

    Calories : 557 kcal / 2,334 KJ

    Carbohydrates : 11.4 g

    of which sugar : 2.9 g

    Dietary fiber : 6 g

    Fat : 47 g

    Protein : 19 g 

Omega-6 in sunflower seeds

It is important to know that sunflower seeds are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are not unhealthy but they need to be consumed with the right ratio to omega-3 fatty acids. 

A ratio of 5:1 is recommended.

So, if you’re eating a lot of sunflower seeds, balance it out with omega-3 through fish, linseed or linseed oil.

Or you can mix flax seed, sunflower seeds with your muesli and linseed oil.

 

How do I use sunflower seeds?

You can use sunflower seeds in a variety of ways, here are different ideas how to incorporate sunflower seeds into your meals:

In salads

As salad toppings, sunflower seeds are a real classic. Just sprinkle them over after tossing all your ingredients. Pumpkin seeds are also great additions to add crispness and nutrients to your salad.

In cereals

With sunflower seeds you can pump up your breakfast cereal and make it healthier. Sunflower seeds are a valuable ingredient, especially for breakfast.

In porridge

If you like porridge in the morning, you should definitely add sunflower seeds in them. They add a crunchy and slightly nutty component to the porridge and provide you with lots of nutrients.

In soups

Soups and stews can be refined by garnishing them with roasted sunflower seeds. Curry dishes, vegetable pans or quiches with sunflower seeds are even finer and more delicious.

In bread and rolls

You can mix the sunflower seeds in the batter or sprinkle over the bread before it gets in the oven. They add variety to the taste and add extra crunch. 

sunflower seeds bars bread granola

On pastries

The seeds also go well with sweet pastries like cookies, cakes, waffles and granola bars. 

As a spread

Sunflower seeds form an optimal basis for homemade vegan spreads. For this, puree soaked or boiled sunflower seeds with water, oil and spices. 

Depending on your taste, you can add peppers, olives, eggplant, onions, horseradish or other tasty ingredients and season your spread. 

For a quick and easy sunflower seed butter recipe, check out ourrecipe here

 

Where can I buy sunflower seeds?

Sunflower seeds are an everyday product. You can get them all year round in every supermarket and in excellent organic quality. 

They are also available in health food stores andonline shops. They come in different varieties: roasted, salted and unsalted, peeled and unpeeled. 

Compared to other nuts and seeds, sunflower seeds are relatively cheap, even if you choose organic quality.

 

What do I look for when buying sunflower seeds?

It’s always good to look for organic sunflower seeds. 

 

How do I store sunflower seeds properly?

Because they are small and contain a lot of fat, sunflower seeds quickly become rancid when exposed to air and light.

Store them in cool, dry and dark places in airtight containers like metal cans or glass jars. Close opened packages well and use the rest as quickly as possible.

 

How long do sunflower seeds last?

If stored correctly, sunflower seeds will last for a year. But if they have not been used for a long time, notice any smell or check if molds have formed. 

Once opened, bags or cans are extremely attractive to insects. In this case, the seeds should be thrown out. 

sunflower seed proper storage

What health benefits do sunflower seeds have? 

Keeps skin healthy, beautiful and young

Sunflower seeds are a very good supplier of vitamin E which is considered the optimal anti-aging agent. 

It has antioxidant effects, protects against wrinkles and makes hair shiny and beautiful. It also has a positive impact on cholesterol levels. 

There are about 35 mg of vitamin E in 100 grams of sunflower seeds. This is twice what you need every day.

Strengthens bones and teeth

Sunflower seeds also contain a lot of calcium, which is important for bones and teeth.

Additionally, phosphorus plays a role in the energy metabolism of the cells and is part of the genetic material. 

With 100 grams of sunflower seeds, you cover your daily needs of calcium and phosphorus.

Protects against anemia 

With a good 6 g of iron per 100 g, sunflower seeds are essential for vegans, who are likely to be deficient due to lack of meat. Iron protects against anemia and exhaustion.

Helps with pregnant and breastfeeding women

Sunflower seeds contain 100 micro grams of folic acid for every 100 g of seeds. This is particularly favorable for pregnant and breastfeeding women who have an increased need for folic acid. 

Strengthens nerves and muscles

If you tend to have leg cramps, you probably know the importance of magnesium; it helps muscles and nerves and prevents tension and cramps. 

Magnesium is also important for the electrolyte balance and energy metabolism. 

Sunflower seeds contain 350 to 400 mg of magnesium per 100 grams. This makes them one of the most magnesium-rich foods ever.

sunflower seeds unpeeled roasted

Prevents inflammation

Sunflower seeds contain unsaturated fatty acids that strengthens the immune system, prevents inflammation and improves the conduction of stimuli between the nerve cells.

The special thing about these fatty acids is that they don’t produce cholesterol. Not that cholesterol is fundamentally bad itself, but today’s diet trends supply the body with too much of the less digestible LDL cholesterol. 

This type of wax-like substance sticks on the inner walls of the blood vessels and contributes to vein blockage resulting in thrombosis, heart attacks or strokes.

Excellent protein source

The content of vegetable protein in sunflower seeds doesn't just beat the other seeds, even very high-protein meats and fish cannot keep up. 

This makes sunflower seeds the perfect protein alternative for vegetarians, vegans and athletes.

Mood booster

Sunflower seeds have the same effect as chocolates. They both contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which boosts the mood.

 

How to prepare sunflower seeds?

Peeled

Peeled sunflower seeds are ready to go over any salad, bread mixture, and other sweet and savory dishes. Depending on the recipe, you can also chop them with a knife or a chopper.

Unpeeled

Simply take the seeds unpeeled anywhere as a snack! Enjoy a delicious nutty snack everywhere you go. 

Light roasting 

If you like roasted almonds, you'll love roasted sunflower seeds. Doing this in a coated pan without any oils, makes the taste of sunflower seeds even more intense. But be careful: seeds burn easily so keep your eye on the stove! Then transfer immediately to a plate so they don’t take any more heat from the pan.

Caramelized 

You can easily caramelize the seeds by boiling them in little water and sugar. Once the water has evaporated, let the sugar caramelize until all the seeds are evenly browned. 

Spread the sunflower seeds on a baking sheet and let them cool.    

sunflower seeds caramelized unpeeled

Can I grow sunflower seeds myself?

Of course, you can grow sunflower seeds yourself. 

But know that sunflowers need a lot of sun, enough water and loose soil rich in nutrients. They will thrive in these conditions and form beautiful large flowers.

Here’s how to harvest sunflower seeds:

  1. When the flowers turn brown in the back, they are good for harvest.
  2. You have two options, (1) Cut off the flowers with 30 centimeters of stems and let them dry. The flower is still attached to the stem and points downwards. (2) You can leave them on the trunk. Put a fine-mesh net around the flower, tighten it. This keeps the birds out. The advantage of this is when the seeds loosen up, the net will catch them.
  3. When most of the kernels have fallen out, you can wipe the rest off with the palm of your hand.
  4. Now you check your harvest. Ripe seeds are the darks ones, these are edible. In the middle are often bright, immature seeds that you should dispose of.
  5. Clean the seeds. Rinse them in a colander with cold water and spread them out on a paper towel to dry. 
  6. When completely dry, store them in an airtight can away from sunlight. 

grow sunflower seeds

Sunflower Seed Recipes

Low-carb Sunflower Seed Bread

Vegan Sunflower Seed & Tomato Spread

Super Salad with Sunflower Seeds

Colorful Whole Grain Spaghetti with Sunflower Seeds

Poppy Seed Cream with Caramelized Sunflower Seeds & Orange Fillets

 

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