The Beauty of Sunflower Seeds – By Estelle O’Keeffe

While we enjoy a lovely bouquet of sunflowers, their seeds are what we are really interested in. Sunflower seeds are harvested from the head of the sunflower plant. Their distinct nutty flavour and high calorie nutritional value provide a number of health benefits; helping to support your immune system and increase energy levels. The seed itself has a black and white striped exterior which is not recommended you eat. However, if you crack it open, inside you’ll find a white seed which can be eaten raw or roasted. Sunflower seeds are quite versatile, much like any nut and can be used in salads, sprinkled over a stir fry or your morning oats, used in your own trail mix or even used as spread instead of peanut butter! 
So what can sunflower seeds do for our health? 

Reducing inflammation 

For those with short-term or chronic inflammation, sunflower seeds can offer anti-inflammatory benefits. The seeds contain vitamin E as well as other plant compounds that can reduce inflammation. 
Sunflower seeds are also rich in ‘healthy’ fats, including polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated which are good for heart health. Consumption of these seeds have been linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. 
Support the immune system  

It’s very important to have a healthy immune system, especially in this day and age. Sunflower seeds are a source of many vitamins and minerals that can support your immune system and increase your ability to fight off viruses (covid or otherwise!). These include both zinc and selenium. Zinc plays a vital role, helping the body maintain and develop immune cells. Selenium also plays a role in reducing inflammation, fighting infection, and boosting immunity. 


Boosting energy levels 

Sunflower seeds are very high in protein and help boost your energy levels. While the high levels of protein within the seeds already help boost energy levels, other nutrients such as vitamin B and again selenium can help keep you further energised. Put simply, the vitamin B1 present in sunflower seeds can help you convert food to energy, which can keep you active throughout the day. Selenium can increase blood flow and deliver more oxygen to your body.