Not only are sunflower seeds flavorful, but they contain numerous beneficial nutrients that your body relies on. According to registered dietitian Alana Kessler, RD, these little guys are full of benefits. For those who don’t like to read, the short and sweet answer is yes, very much so! Now let’s take a deep dive into the numerous health benefits of sunflower seeds…
Some people worry about eating sunflower seeds because of their high fat content. Although these seeds are rich in oil, it is the healthy form of plant oil that provides your body with polyunsaturated fats. Sunflower seeds also contain dozens of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are necessary for a variety of physiological processes. Furthermore, sunflower seeds are a superfood. That means that sunflower seeds offer maximum nutritional benefits for minimal calories. One could live off of strictly eating sunflower seeds, though it is not advisable for the long term unless you’re a bird!
- Sunflower Seeds Are a Good Source of Healthy Fats
Similar to avocados, sunflower seeds are packed with healthy fats. While sunflower seeds are pretty high in fat for a one-ounce serving, they are made of mostly mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are the “good” fats, which are a great anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy source of fats our bodies need and are linked to cardiovascular health and other health perks.
A study out of Columbia University found that consuming sunflower and other types of seeds five or more times per week to be associated with lower levels of inflammation—which the authors of the study also stated may be why consumption of sunflower seeds is also related to a reduced risk for several chronic diseases.
Another study out of Harvard University found increased seed consumption 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 which are found in sunflower seeds, can make a huge impact on your heart health!
- They Are a Good Source of Protein
For those looking to increase your protein intake look no further than sunflower seeds! Kessler, RD says that sunflower seeds are high in protein; one serving has seven grams, which is 10% of your daily for protein. “Sunflower seeds’ protein content is one reason why I regularly recommend them as a healthy snack,” Kessler, RD says, explaining that the combination of protein and healthy fats are needed to truly feel satiated.
- Eating Sunflower Seeds Could Benefit Your Brain
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E which has numerous benefits the big one being long term cognitive preservation. Kessler, RD recommends sunflower seeds as a power snack is because they’re good for brain health. “This is because they contain vitamin E,” she says. “Vitamin E is a helpful nutrient for combatting brain fog in the short-term and also for protecting against cognitive decline in the long-term.” Other benefits of Vitamin E consumption are prevention of cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis, and lower risks of heart attacks. Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids found in sunflower seeds also play a role in brain function and development.
- Eating Sunflower Seeds = More Energy
While the protein content in sunflower seeds already makes it an energy-boosting snack, Kessler, RD says there are other nutrients sunflower seeds are high in that help with this too: selenium and iron. “Selenium is a huge nutrient for energy,” Kessler, RD says, adding that it’s not found in too many foods (other than meat), making it difficult for some healthy eaters to get enough of. Selenium is a trace mineral that is of fundamental importance to human health. The iron in sunflower seeds also helps on that front, Kessler, RD explains, because it assists with blood flow, which helps deliver oxygen to your body, thus keeping you energized.
No wonder athletes and dietitians praise the importance of incorporating seeds in your regular diet. This hidden gem is containing dozens of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that your body relies on to keep you functioning and feeling 100%. So make sure to incorporate SMACKIN’ sunflower seeds into your diet for a healthier and happier lifestyle!