Sunflower seeds make a welcome addition to health-conscious diets, and they come packed with disease-fighting chemicals called flavonoids, reports a study to be published in "Food Chemistry" in 2014. Raw sunflower seeds also offer a wealth of nutritional value thanks to their healthy fat, vitamin and mineral content. Eat them as a snack, or incorporate them into your favorite healthful recipes.
Calories and Macronutrients
Raw sunflower seeds contain a moderate number of calories, but they won't break the bank -- each ounce of hulled seeds contains 164 calories, or roughly 8.5 percent of the daily calories in a 2,000-calorie diet. Most of these calories come from healthy poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids. These fats affect your blood cholesterol levels, reducing the level of harmful cholesterol, while boosting the levels of beneficial cholesterol. Each ounce of raw sunflower seeds contains 14 grams of total fat. Add the seeds to your diet and you'll also consume 5.8 grams of beneficial protein and 5.6 grams of carbohydrates, with 2.4 grams coming from fiber.
Raw sunflower seeds come packed with essential minerals, and serve as especially rich sources of copper, magnesium and manganese. All three minerals support your metabolism, helping you produce energy to fuel your active lifestyle. Magnesium also supports cell communication, copper nourishes your nervous system and manganese aids in bone development. All adults need 900 micrograms of copper each day, and women need 320 milligrams of magnesium and 1.8 milligrams of manganese, while men need 420 and 2.3 milligrams of magnesium and manganese, respectively. An ounce of raw sunflower seeds contributes 504 micrograms of copper, 91 milligrams of magnesium and 0.54 milligram of manganese toward your daily needs.
Add raw sunflower seeds to your diet as a source of water-soluble B-complex vitamins, as well as vitamin E. The B vitamins work together to keep your metabolism healthy, and they also support other essential processes, including nervous system function and red blood vessel development. Raw sunflower seeds provide vitamins B-1, B-3 and B-9. Each ounce of raw seeds also contains 9.9 milligrams of vitamin E, or 66 percent of your recommended daily intake. Vitamin E offers antioxidant protection, which keeps your tissues free of damage, and also promotes healthy cell communication.
Consuming More Sunflower Seeds
Raw sunflower seeds add crunch to your favorite salads -- throw a handful on a mixed green salad, or use them to add more texture to grain salads. Pair raw sunflower seeds with a square of dark chocolate for a tempting snack, or grind raw sunflower seeds in your blender for all-natural sunflower butter that pairs well with whole-grain toast or rice cakes. If you're feeling more adventurous, make no-bake cookies by combining raw sunflower seeds, dried fruit and dates in a food processor. Press the resulting mixture into mini muffin tins, refrigerate until set and then store in the freezer until you need a tasty-but-healthy snack.
- Food Chemistry: Phenolic Profile and Antioxidant Activity in Selected Seeds and Sprouts
- HealthAliciousNess: Seeds, Sunflower Seed Kernels, Dried
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol: Out With the Bad, In With the Good
- Linus Pauling Institute: Copper
- Linus Pauling Institute: Magnesium
- Linus Pauling Institute: Manganese
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin E
- Colorado State University Extension: Water-Soluble Vitamins: B-Complex and Vitamin Cs