Health Benefits Sunflower Seeds Nutrition Facts and Culinary Uses

Sunflower seeds have many health benefits as a snack food being sweet, delicious and nutty and full of key nutrients. The sunflower seeds nutrition facts show that like most nuts and seeds they are relatively high in calories (584 Calories in 100g) and contain considerable amounts of fat (51 g in 100g).

These values are misleading as the seeds are generally used in small amounts. Sunflowers are grown all around the world and the seeds are mostly used for extracting of edible oil for cooking and food processing.

However, they are increasingly being used in snacks, baking and other cooking as sunflower seeds a are a rich source of minerals, essential fatty acids and vitamins.

This article summarizes all the health benefits of sunflower seed, showcases the sunflower seeds nutrition facts and provides a comparison of nutrients found in other nuts and seeds.

Sunflower seeds are a highly nutritious food rich in protein vitamins and minerals. They have high levels of fat and calories, but there are used in small quantities as a snack food or in cakes and slices.
Sunflower seeds are a highly nutritious food rich in protein vitamins and minerals. They have high levels of fat and calories, but there are used in small quantities as a snack food or in cakes and slices. | Source

The sunflower plant is a tall, erect, annual plant with a botanical name of Helianthus annuus. It belongs belonging to the family of Asteraceae (which includes many flower species). Sunflowers are native to the Central American region. Sunflower plants do well in well-drained, limey soil and require a lot of space and full exposure to the sun.

Nutritional Data for Sunflower Seeds

NUTRIENT for 100g
Value
% of Recom. Daily Allowance
Energy
584 Cal
29%
Carbohydrates
20 g
15%
Protein
20.78 g
37%
Total Fat
51.46 g
172%
Cholesterol
0 mg
0%
Dietary Fiber
8.6 g
23%
Vitamins
 
 
Folates
227 mcg
57%
Niacin
8.33 mg
52%
Pantothenic acid
1.13 mg
22%
Pyridoxine
1.34 mg
103%
Riboflavin
0.35 mg
27%
Thiamin
1.48 mg
123%
Vitamin A
50 IU
1.60%
Vitamin C
1.4 g
2%
Vitamin E
35.17 mg
234%
Electrolytes
 
 
Sodium
9 mg
1%
Potassium
645 mg
14%
Minerals
 
 
Calcium
78 mg
8%
Copper
1.80 mg
200%
Iron
5.25 mg
63%
Magnesium
325 mg
81%
Manganese
1.95 mg
85%
Phosphorus
660 mg
94%
Selenium
53 mcg
96%
Zinc
5.00 mg
45%
Phyto-nutrients
 
 
Carotene-ß
30 mcg
--

Health benefits of Sunflower Seeds and Nutrition Facts

Sunflower seeds are a high energy food similar to pumpkin seeds and most the calories come from fatty acids The seeds are very rich in linoleic acid and poly-unsaturated fatty acid , which represent more that half the fatty acids in sunflower seeds. They are also good source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid that are a major feature of the Mediterranean diet which has been promoted as a very health diet. The nutrition facts are summarized in the table.

  • Sunflower seeds are a good source of protein with 21 g contained in 100g of seeds (37% of recommended daily-allowance).
  • Sunflower seeds contain a range of natural anti-oxidants which help maintain the body's systems.

  • Sunflower seeds are a very rich in vitamin E containing about 35 g per100 g (which exceeds the recommended daily allow). Vitamin E is very important for maintaining the skin.

  • Sunflower seeds are one on the best sources of the various B-complex vitamins. These seeds are rich in niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), thiamin (vitamin B1) pantothenic acid, and riboflavin.
  • Sunflower seeds are also rich sources of folic acid, containing 227 mcg in 100 g of seed, which is about 37% of recommended daily allowance.

  • These seeds are also a good source of niacin with about 8.35 mg present in 100 g, which represents about half of the daily allowance for niacin.

  • Pumpkin seeds are also very rich in minerals, particularly manganese, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and copper.

Comparison of Vitamin Levels in Sunflower Seeds with Other Nuts and Seeds

Nutrients in 100g
Folate (mcg)
Vitamin E (mg)
Selenium (mcg)
Iron (mg)
Zinc (mg)
Sunflower Seeds
230.2
40.5
60.3
6.9
5.1
Blueberries
6.5
1.0
0.6
0.2
0.1
Sesame Seeds
97.9
2.3
5.8
14.7
7.9
Almonds
29.4
26.5
8.0
4.4
3.4
Walnuts
99.2
3.0
4.6
3.0
3.1
Pecans
22.3
3.7
6.1
2.6
4.6
Hazelnuts
114.4
15.4
4.0
4.8
2.5

Nutrient Comparison for Sunflower Seeds vs Other Nuts and Seeds

  • Sunflower Seeds have more protein and lot more fiber than pumpkins seeds with about the same amount of calories.C

  • Chia seeds are also very rich in fiber, with the highest level for all the seeds and nuts shown.

  • Sesame seeds, peanuts and almonds have protein levels similar to that for sunflower seeds.

  • Brazil nuts and macadamia nuts have the highest levels of saturated fats which are relatively low in sunflower seeds.

  • The level of mono fats is in the mid range.

  • Walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and brazil nuts have much higher calories

The table on the right shows the very high levels of folate (folic acid), Vitamin E, selenium and relatively high levels of iron (sesame seeds have more iron, but sunflower seeds are second on the list.

Comparison of Nutrients in Seeds and Nuts

100 g
Cal
Tot. Carb
Fiber
Sat. Fat
Mono Fat
Protein
Sunflower Seeds
586
20.0
8.6
4.3
18.6
23.4
Pumpkin Seeds
539
17.9
3.9
8.6
14.3
19.0
Chia Seeds
489
43.9
37.9
3.2
2.1
16.0
Sesame Seeds
571
23.6
11.8
6.8
18.9
22.3
Flax Seeds
536
28.9
27.1
3.6
7.5
18.0
Pine Nuts
671
13.2
3.6
5.0
18.9
31.0
Pistachios
557
27.9
10.4
5.4
23.2
20.6
Almonds
575
21.8
12.1
3.6
30.7
23.4
Brazil Nuts
657
12.1
7.5
15.0
24.6
15.5
Cashews
554
32.9
3.2
7.9
23.9
15.7
Chestnuts
214
45.7
8.2
0.4
0.7
2.0
Hazelnuts
629
16.8
9.6
4.6
45.7
15.4
Madadamia Nuts
718
14.3
8.6
12.1
58.9
8.0
Peanuts
568
16.1
8.6
6.8
24.3
28.5
Pecans
689
13.9
9.6
6.1
40.7
9.2
Walnuts
654
13.6
6.8
6.1
8.9
15.6

Culinary Uses for Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds can be used as a replacement for pumpkin seeds because they have more fiber and vitamins

Here are some serving tips:

  • Sunflower seeds that are roasted and salted make a delicious healthy snack (when eaten in moderation).
  • Added to salads they provide extra crunch.
  • They can be roasted and added to fried-rice dishes or to various sauteed vegetables.
  • The seeds can added to cakes, bread, slices and muffins.
  • The seeds can be added to casseroles and other main meals such as stews and curries.
  • They can be added to breakfast cereals and museli.

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 1 comment

Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico

I think sunflower seeds are quite underused, very good idea to write a hub promoting them. I wanted to contribute with some other culinary uses but you have mentioned them all! Great Hub, voted up.

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