Sunflower seeds are harvested from the flower head of the sunflower plant. While the seed itself is encased in a black and white striped shell, sunflower seeds are white and have a soft texture. Because of their distinctive nutty flavor and high nutritional value, you can eat the seeds raw, roasted or in other dishes.
Studies have linked sunflower seed consumption to a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease. They also contain nutrients that can support your immune system and boost your energy levels.
Some health benefits of sunflower seeds:
For those with short-term or chronic inflammation, sunflower seeds can have anti-inflammatory benefits. Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, flavonoids and other plant compounds that can reduce inflammation. One study found that consuming sunflower seeds and other seeds five or more times a week led to lower levels of inflammation, which also reduced risk factors for several chronic diseases.
Sunflower seeds are rich in “healthy” fats, including polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. A three-quarter cup serving of sunflower seeds contains 14 grams of fat. Studies have shown that consumption of seeds – including sunflower seeds – is associated with reduced rates of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Sunflower seeds are a source of many vitamins and minerals that can support your immune system and increase your ability to fight viruses. These include zinc and selenium. Zinc plays a vital role in the immune system and helps maintain and develop immune cells. Selenium also plays a role in reducing inflammation, fighting infection, and boosting immunity.
While the high levels of protein in sunflower seeds help boost your energy levels right now, other nutrients like B vitamins and selenium can help you maintain energy. Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) in sunflower seeds can help you convert food into energy that can keep you active throughout the day. Selenium can increase blood flow and deliver more oxygen to your body.
Sunflower seeds are rich in protein and healthy fats, as well as antioxidants that can reduce the risk of serious diseases.
It is also a great resource for:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B6
Nutrients per serving
According to the USDA, ¼ cup of dry roasted unsalted sunflower seeds contains:
- Calories: 207
- Protein: 5.8 grams
- Fat: 19 grams
- Carbohydrates: 7 grams
- Fiber: 3.9 grams