5 Powerful Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

When you’re tempted to nibble on chips, why not reach for a handful of sunflower seeds instead? All seeds are nutrient-dense, but sunflower seeds are in an elite class in terms of nutrient density. Plus, they’re a snack straight from nature, unlike the ultra-processed chips you buy in a bag.

Let’s look at some of the health benefits of eating sunflower seeds and why you should switch your chips for a handful of these crunchy seeds.

Sunflower Seeds Are a Heart-Healthy Snack

Sunflower seeds are rich in a few key components that support heart health. One is vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin that helps reduce inflammation and oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Plus, vitamin E reduces the risk of abnormal clots forming in vessels, a situation that can lead to a stroke or heart attack. In fact, a cup of crunchy sunflower seeds supplies three-quarters of the % daily value for vitamin E.

Sunflower seeds are also rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps with blood pressure control and is essential for healthy heart rhythm. Studies show that around half of the population doesn’t get enough dietary magnesium. A blood test that checks magnesium status isn’t a good indicator of magnesium sufficiency since it can’t measure tissue levels. Fortunately, a cup of sunflower seeds offers 37% of the % daily value. So, munching on them will give you a head start on meeting your body’s magnesium needs.

Finally, sunflower seeds contain phytosterols, natural plant phytochemicals linked with lower cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease. Plus, the fats in sunflower seeds are the heart-healthy kind.

Better Blood Sugar Control

When you switch potato chips and other high-carb goodies for sunflower seeds, it’s gentler on your blood sugar. Whereas chips and other processed snacks are likely to cause a blood sugar spike, sunflower seeds are blood-sugar friendly, thanks to their low carb and high fiber content.

Plus, the magnesium in sunflower seeds makes them a blood-sugar friendly nibble. Studies show that magnesium improves insulin sensitivity and helps prevent blood sugar spikes. Research also shows that people with diabetes are often low in magnesium, as they excrete more into their urine.

Sunflower Seeds Are Rich in Plant-Based Protein

More people are consuming more plant-based protein these days. A cup of sunflower seeds has almost 10 grams of protein. Plus, the combination of protein, healthy fat, and fiber make them more satiating than chips. Therefore, you’ll likely eat less. Don’t be surprised if you lose some weight after making the switch!

Add sunflower seeds to a salad as a source of protein and to make the salad more filling and satisfying. You can even sprinkle them on hot vegetables, like leafy greens, to add more nutrients and crunch. The healthy fats in sunflower seeds will also increase how much beta-carotene you absorb from the greens.

A Source of Sustained Energy

Eat a bag of potato chips and you’ll feel tired an hour later as your blood sugar drops. Sunflower seeds contain B-vitamins that support healthy energy metabolism. Plus, the protein and fiber in sunflower seeds lead to more sustained energy and fewer blood sugar fluctuations. In contrast, a small package of potato chips will raise your blood sugar quickly and drop it just as fast, leaving you tired and hungry.

Sunflower Seeds Support Immune Health

Sunflower seeds are rich in two minerals that play a role in immune health, zinc, and selenium. Zinc and selenium both support immune health while selenium also helps protect cells against oxidative damage. The amount of selenium in foods varies with the selenium content of the soil. With sunflower seeds, you get both of these minerals that support immune health in one crunch snack.

Eat More Sunflower Seeds

Get creative with sunflower seeds. They’re a natural in salads, wraps, yogurt, and even a bowl of hot porridge in the morning. If you want a little more challenge and to slow down how fast you eat them, buy them in the shell so you have to de-shell them before popping them in your mouth.

Delicious, nutritious and fun!