Sunflower seeds probably either make you think of the beginning of a flowering plant that most people consider a weed or the salty shelled seeds that you crack open with your front teeth after you suck all the salt off them.
Well, since converting to a grain free diet (lifestyle), sunflower seeds, the unsalted kind, have taken a different role in my life. Of course, I’m going to share my new found knowledge because I think you’re going to find all this sunflower seed stuff rather interesting. Duh, right? LOL
Sunflowers – The Flower
Sunflowers are some of the HAPPIEST flowers because they have eye-popping color on their large faces! The flower actually looks like it is a smiling sunshine.
The sunflower is a plant that is native to the Americas and will bloom year after year. The head of the flower is made up of many individual flowers called florets . These florets on the inside of the flower head mature and turn into seeds which we can eat.
Sunflowers are VERY tall flowers and usually grow between 5 – 12 feet tall. Isn’t that amazing!!! The stalk of the flower is thick and strong. A sunflower grows in full, bright sunshine.
The sunflower is the state flower of Kansas in the United States and the national flower of Ukraine.
There are many hybrids and cultivars (a variety of a plant that was produced from a natural species and is maintained by cultivation) of sunflowers. They are different sizes, shapes and colors. Here are some of them:
- American Giant
- Autumn Beauty
- Aztec Sun
- Black Oil
- Chianti Hybrid
- Giant Primrose
- Gullick’s Variety
- Honey Bear
- Indian Blanket Hybrid
- Irish Eyes
- Italian White
- Kong Hybrid
- Large Grey Stripe
- Lemon Queen
- Loddon Gold
- Mammoth Russian
- Maximillian sunflower
- Mexican sunflower
- Miss Mellish
- Mongolian Giant
- Orange Sun
- Peach Passion
- Prado Red (shown in the picture above)
- Red Sun
- Ring of Fire
- Solar Eclipse
- Solar Flair
- Strawberry Blonde
- Sunny Hybrid
- Teddy Bear
- Thousand Suns
- Vanilla Ice
- Velvet Queen
- Yellow Disk
Isn’t that a huge list of JUST sunflowers?!!! I love them and especially the red one!
20 Sunflower Seeds Facts, Nutrition, Health Benefits & Seed Analysis
Now lets talk about the edible seeds of the sunflower. The tiny seeds of the large sunflower are packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients that in many cases, exceed the suggested daily allowance.
- Sunflower seeds originate in the center of the head of a sunflower.
- Sunflower seeds are grayish-green or black.
- Sunflower seeds are found inside tear-dropped shaped gray or black shells with white stripes.
- Sunflower seeds are a delicious snack. They are easy to transport, small and not messy.
- Sunflower seeds have a nutty taste without the allergies usually associated with nuts.
- Sunflower seeds are firm, but tender so they are easy to consume.
- Year round, sunflower seeds are available at the local grocery store. Remember to go organic!
- Sunflower seeds have a high oil content – the good kind of oil.
- Sunflower seeds are one of the main sources of polyunsaturated oil.
- The subtle flavor of a sunflower seed is brought out by toasting them. Yum. Toast them, but don’t add salt because you don’t need it.
- Sunflower seeds can be added to cereals, fruit, breads, cookies, meatless entrees, smoothies, yogurt, as a coating for meat, etc.
- Sunflower seeds are one of the best sources of antioxidants especially Vitamin E which is an anti-inflammatory. Vitamin E helps to reduce the symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis to name a few. Vitamin E also reduces the risk of colon cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, menopausal hot flashes in women, problems from diabetes and helps to prevent cardiovascular disease. Vitamin E also protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation. In just a quarter cup of sunflower seeds, you can get over ninety percent of the daily value for vitamin E.
- Sunflower seeds are a great source of protein (great for muscles) and a healthier alternative to meat proteins.
- Sunflower seeds provide only 4 grams of carbohydrates per 1-ounce serving
- Sunflower seeds are full of “good” unsaturated fat and that helps the cardiovascular system.
- Sunflower seeds are high in selenium which prevents cancer, destroys the cancer cells already in the body and aids in DNA repair of damaged cells.
- Sunflower seeds are a great source of zinc which is important for male fertility.
- Sunflower seeds have over 80 nutrients!!!
- Sunflower seeds’ phytosterols lower cholesterol levels.
- Sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium which reduces the effects of asthma, lowers high blood pressure, prevents migraine headaches, reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, regulates nerve and muscle tone while helping to maintain healthy bones. Most of the magnesium in the human body is in our bones. Another thing that magnesium does is it keeps our nerves, blood vessels and muscles relaxed.
Everyone at once now…Oh my goodness!
Isn’t it amazing how much this little seed can add to the nutritive value of your food?!!! Who would have ever guessed that the big yellow sunflower could produce such a valuable seed?
So the next time I start talking about sunflower seeds, it will be to show you how I’m using them these days. Yep! You’re going to have to wait and anticipate the next recipe!