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Sunflower seeds have been famed for their nutritional values the world over. Harvested from the yellow-colored sunflower, they are highly versatile and part of some delicious cuisines. Whether you use them in smoothies, desserts, or eat them raw, adding sunflower seeds to your diet can do wonders for your health.

Sunflower Seeds Nutritional Value

Sunflower seeds are harvested, dried, and prepared into the tasty snacks that you munch on. But, what’s their nutrition value? Well, sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, selenium, and magnesium. One cup of sunflower seeds with shells supplies your body with:

  • 290 calories
  • 1g sugar
  • 24g fat
  • 9.5g protein
  • 9g carbohydrates
  • 4g fiber

One cup shelled (hulled) sunflower seeds provide:

  • 818 calories
  • 3.7g sugar
  • 72g fat
  • 29g protein
  • 28g carbs
  • 12g fiber

From the fact sheet, you can see that sunflower seeds are high in calories and provide lots of healthy plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fats. These are polyunsaturated fats that are associated with anti-inflammatory benefits. Eating them hulled provides even more calories, protein, and fiber.

Other nutrients that you get from consuming sunflower seeds include calcium, sodium, vitamin A, folate, choline, and iron.

Are Sunflower Seeds Good for You?

Sunflower Seeds Boost Your Immune System

Vitamin E strengthens your immune system, which in turn, protects you from a myriad of diseases. Zinc prevents inflammation in your body, as well as, allergies and invading pathogens, thus boosting your overall immunity. Zinc also helps develop and maintain the proper function of immune cells.

Selenium helps to reduce oxidative stress from free radicals and also reduces inflammation, thus ensuring that your body is producing a proper response to intruders in the body. It’s also an important mineral required for good mental health.

Sunflower Seeds Keeps Your Baby Healthy

If you’re an expectant mother or planning to have a baby, eating sunflower seeds will nourish your body in more than one way. The abundance of minerals like zinc, folate, and vitamin E help in the development of a healthy fetus. Folate supports the placenta and can prevent spina bifida.

Zinc, on the other hand, helps in the production of enzymes and insulin. Vitamin E is an essential nutrient for your skin and is responsible for the ‘pregnancy glow’. No wonder many skincare products contain this vital mineral. It helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Sunflower Seeds Are Good for Your Heart Health

Polyunsaturated fat, which is found in sunflower seeds, has been shown to improve human heart health. Several studies surrounding these amazing seeds have concluded that regular consumption can be associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Sunflower seeds contain a compound, linoleic acid, that blocks an enzyme that causes blood vessels to constrict, lowering the risk of blood pressure. Magnesium also reduces blood pressure levels.

Sunflower Seeds Support Strong Muscles

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of protein, which supports the growth of strong muscles. One cup of hulled sunflower seeds can supply around 24g protein and high energy levels. Adding them to your smoothie, morning cereal, or any other snack will leave you energized for hours.

Sunflower Seeds Promote Healthy Weight

The high fiber and protein content in sunflower seeds can help you shed some extra weight and maintain a healthy weight. By eating protein- and fiber-rich foods, one stays full for longer. Fiber also promotes good digestion and blood sugar regulation.

Sunflower Seeds Are an Excellent Source of Antioxidants

Vitamin E has antioxidant properties and is found in plenty in sunflower seeds. Vitamin E helps to neutralize harmful chemicals in the body that can damage your cells. The vitamin also helps to reduce the risk of hardening of the arteries.

Selenium is also an antioxidant and helps to repair damaged cells. It’s a component of antioxidant enzymes that can help prevent cancer cells from dividing.

Healthy Ways of Eating Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are versatile and can be enjoyed in various ways:

  • You can eat them straight from the package
  • Mix them in your smoothies
  • Sprinkle them on top of your salads
  • Sprinkle them on yogurt, soup, cereal, or even as a topping on a nut butter snack.

Downsides of Consuming Sunflower Seeds

While nutrient-rich, sunflower seeds are relatively high in calories. Eating the seeds in the shell is one way to slow down your eating pace and calorie intake since you’ll take some time cracking open and spitting out the shells.

The shells, however, can contain high salt content, so you may want to take them shelled. Some people suck on the seeds before cracking them open. So, when purchasing packaged sunflower seeds, it’s advisable to carefully read the nutrition label.

Sunflower seeds take up cadmium from the soil and deposit it in their seeds. The high cadmium content is another reason to eat sunflower seeds in moderation. The shell fragments are not easily digestible and might lead to difficulty in bowel movement.

All images by Shutterstock

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