Sunflower Seeds: nutritional value, benefits, and side effects

Sunflower seeds are harvested from heads of the the sunflower plants and these tiny seeds are power packed with many health benefits. The seeds are loaded with a number of vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. With many health benefits to its credit it may cause some side effects to some people if consumed in higher quantity.

Sunflower Seeds: nutritional value, benefits, and side effects
Sunflower Seeds: nutritional value, benefits, and side effects

The Sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamins like Thiamine,  Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Folate, Choline, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin E. Minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc etc., and also provide with plant compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids that are strong antioxidants. 

They may also cause allergic reaction to some people like vomiting, rashes, breathing problem, swelling and itching around the mouth etc. People sensitive to sunflower seeds should avoid consuming the seeds.

Nutritional Value

The main nutrients in 1 ounce (30 grams or 1/4 cup) of shelled, dry-roasted sunflower seeds are :

Total fat, which includes:14 grams
• Saturated fat1.5 grams
• Polyunsaturated fat9.2 grams
• Monounsaturated fat2.7 grams
Protein5.5 grams
Carbs6.5 grams
Fiber3 grams
Vitamin E37% of the RDI
Niacin10% of the RDI
Vitamin B611% of the RDI
Folate17% of the RDI
Pantothenic acid20% of the RDI
Iron6% of the RDI
Magnesium9% of the RDI
Zinc10% of the RDI
Copper26% of the RDI
Manganese30% of the RDI
Selenium32% of the RDI

Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

  • Immunity Booster: These tiny seeds are great immunity booster as they are loaded with vitamin E, zinc, and selenium. Vitamin E enhances immune response and is also a powerful antioxidant. Zinc protects the body from inflammation, allergies, and invading pathogens, thus preventing infections and increasing overall immunity. Selenium reduces inflammation and enhances immunity. It also helps to reduce oxidative stress from free radicals.
  • Reduces Cholesterol: Niacin or vitamin B3 reduces LDL cholesterol in the blood while Vitamin B5 increases HDL HDL cholesterol and reduces total serum cholesterol levels.
  • Cardioprotective Effects: The presence of the high content of oleic and linoleic acid, low in saturated fats and sodium also the presence of magnesium, potassium, and fiber help reduce blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels. It also reduces the occurrence of arrhythmias which all account for improves cardiovascular health.
  • Reduces risk of Cancer: Nutrients such as Beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol prevent breast cancer, strong antioxidants in sunflower seeds also reduces the risk of cancer, and consumption of sunflower seeds reduces the chances of colon cancer.
  • Diabetes: Sunflower seeds reduces blood sugar levels in patients with type 3 diabetes mellitus.
  • Boosts function of Brain: Vitamin B6. It improves mood and concentration and enhances memory.
  • PMS:  Helps to ease symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Helps in Weight Loss: The tiny seeds are rich in proteins and fiber which makes us feel full for a long time thus controlling food intake.
  • A Powerhouse of Energy: A handful of seeds gives instant energy when consumed due to the presence of thiamine (vitamin B1), which also helps in muscle building.
  • Anaemia: Being a good source of iron can help people suffering from Anaemia.
  • Detox our Body: Sunflower seeds have potent antibacterial activity. They help in effectively removing bacteria and germs from cells. They also help to flush out toxins from our bodies.
  • Good for our Skin: Keeps our skin glowing. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of these seeds also prevents infections, Oleic and linoleic acids, present in sunflower seeds help in the formation of collagen and elastin, speeding up wound healing. They also prevent the formation of scars.

Side effects of Sunflower Seeds

Excessive consumption may cause following side effects:

  • Vomiting, stomach ache, and constipation.
  • People allergic to sunflower seeds may show symptoms like vomiting, rashes, breathing problem, swelling and itching around the mouth, etc.
  • Consuming too much may lead to weight gain as they are high in calories.
  • Sunflower seeds contain traces of cadmium. Eating too many seeds can be harmful to our kidneys.
  • Eating contaminated sprouted seeds may lead to bacterial infection (Salmonella).

The daily recommended dose of consumption is not more than 1 small cup ( around 30 grams ) per day.

How To Eat Sunflower Seeds

The nutty and crunchy seeds can be consumed in many exciting ways. Simply consume the seeds directly or can be added to many dishes for that extra nutritional flavors. Here are some of the variations to start with.

  • Add to trail mix.
  • Stir into homemade granola bars.
  • Sprinkle on a leafy green salad.
  • Stir into hot or cold cereal.
  • Sprinkle over fruit or yogurt parfaits.
  • Add to stir-fries.
  • Stir into tuna or chicken salad.
  • Sprinkle over sautéed vegetables.
  • Add to veggie burgers.
  • Use in place of pine nuts in pesto.
  • Top casseroles.
  • Grind the seeds and use them as a coating for fish.
  • Add baked goods, such as bread and muffins.
  • Dip an apple or banana in sunflower seed butter.

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