Are Sunflower Seeds Healthy?

Sunflower seeds are little powerhouses of healthy goodness. You can pick them up at your grocery store anytime, but the really wonderful ones come from sunflowers that grow in your own yard. Not only do they give you a bright, sunny yellow flower to enjoy, you can know for sure that the seeds you grow are free of pesticides and other nasty chemicals.

Are Sunflower Seeds Healthy?

In short, yes—sunflower seeds are delightfully healthy. They contain the right kind of fats, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, both of which lower cardiovascular risk and blood pressure. They also have protein and fiber, which keep you feeling full for a long time after eating them. In addition, they are loaded with nutrients, such as folate, thiamin, iron, and niacin, and they also have phytochemicals; these help protect against cancer and heart disease.

They are extremely low in sugar and sodium – in fact, they provide zero percent sodium for a regular diet. They also have no cholesterol at all, and only 3% of your daily carbohydrates per serving. They also have trace minerals, such as copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium, all of which are great for you.

Healthy Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

Are sunflower seeds healthy? This can tell you exactly what they do in your body:

1. Reduce Heart Disease Risk

¼ cup of sunflower seeds has 80% of your daily need of Vitamin E, which is necessary for many healthy bodily functions, but especially for your heart. It reduces inflammation, which can then reduce heart problems and even some types of cancer. Sunflower seeds can lower blood pressure, balance cholesterol levels, and give you a big dose of anti-inflammatory compounds.

2. Antioxidants Prevent Cancer

High levels of antioxidants have been shown to reduce oxidant stress on the body, which can help you avoid some types of cancer. Specifically, the sunflower seeds contain antioxidants that work to repair DNA and slow the growth of mutated cells throughout the body.

3. Selenium for Thyroid Disease

Did you know that 27 million Americans suffer from thyroid problems? Selenium is a mineral that many people don’t get enough of; sunflower seeds are loaded with it. Including more selenium in your diet can help reduce thyroid problems, and can even help prevent certain types of breast cancer.

4. Help with Bones and Muscles

Are sunflower seeds healthy for bones and muscles? You bet! They contain a great deal of magnesium, which helps keep bones healthy and dense. It can also help with depression and anxiety. The potassium in the sunflower seeds is good to avoid muscle cramps, and the seeds contains plenty of B5, which is great to help avoid damage to the legs or feet – that’s why so many athletes love sunflower seeds.

5. Balance Blood Sugar

Sunflower seeds, as well as many other seeds and nuts, are known for balancing blood sugar and possibly reducing them, which might help with diabetes care. The nutrients in sunflower seeds actively work against the factors that drive up blood sugar, such as insulin resistance, autoimmune response and the like.

How to Eat Sunflower Seeds

There are numerous ways to enjoy sunflower seeds. You already know the answer to the question ‘Are sunflower seeds healthy,’ but now you can learn how to incorporate them into almost anything.

  • Sprinkle them on meatballs or burgers for an added crunch.
  • Use them generously on salads.
  • Use sunflower seed butter in place of peanut butter or in a sauce.
  • Mix them in with tuna salad for more texture.
  • Add them to oatmeal, or even put the butter in your morning smoothie.
  • Add them to any baked goods that can use a little crunch on top, such as bran muffins.
  • If the recipe calls for flax or chia seeds, ground up sunflower seeds are a great alternative.

Sunflower seeds can be eaten one at a time by peeling away the outer shell and eating the inner seed. But to remove the shells before using for baking, add them to a blender and grind them up. Then simply put the mixture into a bowl and pour water over them. The shell pieces are very light and will rise to the top, so you can skim them off and throw them away. Run your hands through the pieces first to ensure that any trapped bits of shell rise to the top before using the seeds in your recipes.

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