4 Amazing Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds may conjure up memories of baseball games growing up, but they are actually a much more wholesome food than the hot dogs and other foods that may also remind you of ballpark fare. Adding sunflower seeds to your diet could do wonders for your skin, heart, immunity and overall health. Read below to find out four good reasons to start adding them to your favorite snacks for a serious health boost.
Related: Health Benefits of Nuts
Sunflower Seeds Nutrition
The following nutritional information is for a one-ounce serving of dry roasted sunflower seeds, without salt:
- Calories: 165
- Total Fat: 14 grams
- Saturated Fat: 1.5 grams
- Monounsaturated Fat: 3 grams
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 9 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
- Sodium: 1 milligram
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Sugars: 0 grams
- Protein: 5.5 grams
- Vitamin A: 2.5 IU (0% Daily Value)
- Vitamin C: 0.5 mg (4% DV)
- Calcium: 20 milligrams (2% DV)
- Iron: 1 milligram (6% DV)
While sunflower seeds are pretty high in fat for a one-ounce serving, they are made of mostly mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which are a great anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy source of fats our bodies need. Additionally, they are a good source of fiber and protein, adding a nice nutrition boost to your favorite granola bars, salads and other recipes.
Sunflower seeds are also almost negligent in sodium on their own, but many packaged sunflower seed products are loaded with salt—one popular brand packs 79% of your daily sodium limit per serving! It's important to be mindful of the nutrition label whenever you're stocking up on sunflower seeds to use for snacking or in a recipe.
Sunflower Seeds Boast Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
You don't just have to eat the trendy seeds—like chia and hemp—to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits they have to offer. A study out of Columbia University found consuming sunflower and other seeds five or more times per week to be associated with lower levels of inflammation—which the authors of the study may be why consumption of them is also related to a reduced risk for several chronic diseases.
Sunflower Seeds Boost Your Heart Health
Unlike saturated fat, moderate unsaturated fat consumption has actually shown to improve one's heart health. A study out of Harvard University found increased seed consumption—sunflower seeds included—to be associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, as well as CVD risk factors, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure. Making the effort to consume more heart-healthy fats, like the mono- and polyunsaturated fats found in sunflower seeds, can make a huge impact on your heart health (learn more about the best and worst foods to eat for heart health).
Sunflower Seeds Help to Prevent and Fight Sickness
Sunflower seeds are a good or excellent source of nearly a dozen essential vitamins and minerals, two of them being zinc and selenium. Zinc is an integral part of the immune system, as it helps both to develop and maintain proper function of immune cells. Additionally, zinc functions as an antioxidant to fight off free radicals.
Selenium also plays a role in fighting inflammation and infection, along with boosting immunity, to ensure our bodies are producing a proper response to any intruders in the body. This mineral is an important part of achieving mental health and preventing neurodegenerative disorders (like Alzheimer's) as well.
Sunflower Seeds Are a Great Food for Expecting Mothers
Whether you're hoping to have a baby, are pregnant or are just trying to follow a well-balanced diet, sunflower seeds have a lot to offer. These seeds are a good source of zinc and folate, while being an excellent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is essential for prenatal health, as it helps the fetus develop and use red blood cells and muscles. Folate supports the placenta and helps prevent spina bifida, while zinc helps produce insulin and enzymes.
Vitamin E is also a key nutrient for achieving that "pregnancy glow." You've likely purchased a skincare product that touts having vitamin E in it, as it fights against UV damage and nourishes your largest organ. Sunflower seeds pack more than one-third of your daily needs.