Packed with loads of nutrients, sunflower seeds are actually fruits of sunflower (Helianthus annuus). These tiny white coloured seeds are encased in greyish black shells.
These soft seeds have a mild nutty flavour. You can roast them to increase their taste or have them as it is.
Nutritional value of Sunflower Seeds
- Sunflower seeds are rich in calories. 100 grams of these seeds give around 585 calories of energy. They have a good amount of fibre (8.5 g) and fats (51.5 g). Fats present are mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated; which are good fats. They are also rich in protein (20.77 g).
- They are loaded with vitamins like Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Folate, Choline, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin E.
- Contain minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc etc.
- Sunflower seeds when consumed, also provide us with plant compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids that are strong antioxidants.
Comparison of Sunflower Seeds with Pumpkin Seeds
While both are extremely healthy and packed with nutrients, sunflower seeds win on many more levels.
|Sunflower Seeds||Pumpkin Seeds|
|They are the fruit of the sunflower (not technically the seeds!)||They are the edible seeds of different pumpkins and squash|
|Flat and oval, smaller and thicker||Flat and oval, thinner and larger than sunflower seeds|
|Can range from white to black||Light green in colour with a white husk outside|
|4.7% water content||4.5% water content|
|584 calories per 100g||446 calories per 100g|
|21g of high-quality protein per 100g||19g of protein per 100g|
|2 times the fat content of pumpkin seeds (healthy fats)||Ample fat content (most healthy fats)|
|Lower dietary fibre content||Higher dietary fibre content|
|Higher in most other vitamins including B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E||Higher in Vitamin A, also contains Vitamin K|
|Higher in iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, copper||Higher in zinc, potassium, choline|
|Low glycemic index||Low glycemic index|
Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Immunity boosting effects of sunflower seeds are due to the presence of vitamin E, zinc and selenium in them.
Vitamin E enhances immune responses and protects against several infectious diseases. It is also a powerful antioxidant and prevents free radicals from damaging healthy cells in our body.
Zinc protects our 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.
The fibre content of sunflower seeds decreases levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Niacin or vitamin B3 present in sunflower seeds reduces total cholesterol levels and risk of heart diseases.
Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid in sunflower seeds increases HDL cholesterol and reduces total serum cholesterol levels.
Also Read: High Cholesterol Diet – Foods To Eat & Avoid
Sunflower seeds are rich in oleic and linoleic acid and low in saturated fats and sodium. They also contain magnesium, potassium and fibre.
They help to lower blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels. Consuming them also reduces the occurrence of arrhythmias. All these effects help to protect our body from occurrence of cardiovascular disorders.
Reduces risk of Cancer
Beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol present in sunflower seeds helps to prevent breast cancer.  It inhibits the growth of tumour cells, decreases the size of the tumour and also prevents metastasis.
Presence of strong antioxidants in sunflower seeds also reduces the risk of cancer.
Consumption of these seeds also reduces the chances of colon cancer.
Management of Diabetes
Sunflower seeds are useful in reducing blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. What is type 2 diabetes? It is a chronic condition that leads to high levels of blood sugar in your body as the cells do not respond to insulin as well as they should. A few of the symptoms include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, fatigue and blurred vision.
Read More: 10 Best Food For Diabetes
Boosts function of Brain
Sunflower seeds contain vitamin B6. It improves mood and concentration and enhances memory. It releases serotonin and norepinephrine in our body.
Sunflower seeds also help to ease symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Also Read: 5 Foods That Are Good For Brain
Helps in Weight Loss
Sunflower seeds are rich in proteins and fibre. They make us feel full for a long time, reduce our food intake and finally reduce the number of calories consumed. This helps in reduction of weight.
A Powerhouse of Energy
Sunflower seeds are a good source of thiamine ( vitamin B1 ). Thiamine helps to breakdown carbohydrates, proteins and fats present in our food into energy. They also help in muscle building.
A handful of sunflower seeds can give you instant energy when consumed.
Helps in Treatment of Anaemia
Sunflower seeds are a good source of iron. Consuming these seeds helps to up our iron levels; thus helping people suffering from anaemia.
Read More: 7 Home Remedies for Anaemia
Helps to 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 body.
Good for our Skin
Consuming sunflower seeds keep our skin glowing. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of these seeds also prevents infections, thus keeping our skin clear.
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.
Helpful During Pregnancy
Sunflower seeds are loaded with Vitamine E, which is a nutrient known to be extremely beneficial for prenatal health. This means, Vitamin E helps in the development of the baby inside the womb. Therefore, sunflower seeds are an effective source of nutrition for pregnant women and their babies.
People suffering from chronic inflammation can find relief by consuming sunflower seeds either as part of trail mix or by adding them to their breakfast cereal or even by sprinkling some on their soup or salad. The health benefits of sunflower seeds include anti-inflammatory properties such as flavonoids, Vitamin E and other compounds. Experts have found that consuming sunflower seeds as part of any of your meals 3-5 times a week significantly lowered vulnerability to chronic conditions such as arthritis or joint pain.
Also Read: 10 Foods That Are Good For Skin
Sunflower Seeds are usually of two types-
- Sunflower Seeds that we eat
- Sunflower Seeds used to extract oil.
Around 2000 seeds are obtained from large sunflower heads. These seeds can be eaten as a snack or they can be added to :
- Nutrition bars
You can even have sunflower butter made using these seeds.
Read More: Health Benefits & Uses of Sabja Seeds
Side effects of Sunflower Seeds:
- Excess consumption of sunflower seeds may cause 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.
- Sunflower seeds are rich in calories. Consuming too much may lead to weight gain.
- 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).
Also Read: 12 Health Benefits of Poppy Seeds
Daily Dose of Sunflower Seeds :
- Sunflower seeds should not be consumed more than 1 small cup ( around 30 grams ) per day.
Also Read: 14 Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Q1. Sunflower seed vs sunflower oil, which is better?
Ans: Sunflower oil has more quantity of vitamin E than sunflower seeds, whereas, sunflower seeds contain vitamin B6, iron, phosphorus and pantothenic acid. Additionally, sunflower seed is more expensive than sunflower oil. Thus, both have their pros and cons.
Q2. How to incorporate sunflower seeds into our daily diet?
Ans: Adding sunflower seeds to one’s diet is really easy like any other seed. You can sprinkle on top of your salad, add to oatmeal or muesli or granola, combine into trail mix, add as one of the ingredients of energy balls for weight loss, add to burgers, stir fry vegetables or even make sunflower butter of it similar to peanut butter.
Q3. How to store sunflower seeds correctly without spoiling them?
Ans: you can store sunflower seeds in an airtight container when kept in an environment that is cool and dry such as a refrigerator and freezer for up to 12 months.