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Nuts and seeds are great additions to salads, yogurts, or on their own as a quick snack. But are sunflower seeds healthy? These tasty seeds are quite good for you – they are a good source of nutrients like vitamin E and they have protective effects in your body. Just be sure to choose the healthiest kind for maximum benefit.
Sunflower Seeds: A Nutritious Snack
Like many other seeds, sunflower seeds are packed full of healthy vitamins and minerals. They are a great source of vitamins E, B, D, and K. They are high in protein and fiber as well (1 cup of sunflower seeds are loaded with 29 grams of protein and 12 grams of dietary fiber). Sunflower seeds are also a great source of healthy, unsaturated fats, particularly the healthy omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, which is helpful in reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Sunflower seeds are also a rich source of antioxidants. They have high levels of tocopherols (in the vitamin E family) as well as phenolic compounds, which have positive correlation with antioxidant potential and help in reducing the risk of some diseases. Studies show that sunflower seeds exhibit very high levels of antioxidant activity, which may be a large part of why these seeds are so good for you.
Health Benefits of Eating Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds have a high antioxidant capacity, which may help to protect against a variety of diseases. Antioxidants are known to help prevent oxidative damage, which can lead to things like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and more.
Sunflower seeds also are high in phytosterols, compounds that have been shown to help lower cholesterol and prevent diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
One of the major health benefits of sunflower seeds may be in protecting your cardiovascular health. They contain a number of important compounds that may help protect your heart from damage and prevent heart disease. They may also help lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including cholesterol and triglycerides.
Choosing the Healthiest Sunflower Seeds
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to buying sunflower seeds. You can buy shelled, unshelled, sprouted, salted, unsalted, flavored, roasted, and more. Your best bet is to go for those that are minimally processed; many sunflower seeds are heavily salted, so try avoiding those to keep your sodium intake in the healthy range. Look for raw, unsalted seeds, either shelled or unshelled, without excessive salt or oils.
Sunflower seeds can go rancid quickly. Be sure to choose fresh products by checking “best by” dates, and store them in an airtight container (ideally in the refrigerator) to preserve them.