Including sunflower seeds in your diet is a savvy health hack, a smart and easy way to support your health. Sunflower seeds are amazing sources of a number of vitamins and minerals that many of us don’t get enough of but which play important roles in keeping you healthy.
I started eating sunflower seeds more regularly when I discovered they supplied a number of nutrients I was falling short on, which was probably compromising my immune system’s ability to fight off colds.
A 1/4 cup serving covers more than 80% of your vitamin E and 70% of your copper, both of which play important roles in immune function. Sunflower seeds also provide substantial amounts of B1, manganese, selenium, phosporus, magnesium, and B-6, which support your immune system as well as many other bodily processes. When your body gets the nutrients it needs, you’re far more likely to get sick less often, have more energy, and feel better all around. Sunflower seeds can help!
Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, and eating more vitamin E rich foods like sunflower seeds can lower your risk of many diseases. Vitamin E’s antioxidant powers may also help protect skin from the effects of aging and sun damage.
The selenium in sunflower seeds may help with thyroid function, which millions of people struggle with.
B-6 and magnesium can help you sleep better.
(And all of the above play a role in immune system function, along with copper, found in sunflower seeds as well.)
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Other reasons to love sunflower seeds:
Sunflower seeds are pretty inexpensive, around $3 per pound for organic. You can find them in the bulk aisle of many natural foods stores, roasted or raw, salted or unsalted. (Or purchase online here.) I like to bring my own jars to refill to save on packaging and plastic exposure.
You can also grow your own, of course! Sunflowers are beautiful additions to the garden. Plant a lot and enjoy these tasty, healthy snacks free from your garden. (Growing info here.)
How to enjoy the health benefits of sunflower seeds:
- Eat roasted seeds as a snack
- Sprinkle roasted or raw sunflower seeds on salads
- Add to baked goods, like breakfast cookies or granola bars
- Add to granola or overnight oats
** When possible, soak your seeds overnight. Like many other nuts and seeds, the nutrients in sunflower seeds become more available when soaking breaks down the phytic acid that most of us are better off avoiding when we can.
Recipes for getting the health benefits of sunflower seeds:
- Use “sunbutter,” either purchased or homemade. Check out these easy instructions for homemade sunbutter from The Pistachio Project. Sunbutter can be used in place of peanut butter in all sorts of recipes, from energy balls to sauces. Here’s a three-ingredient cookie made with sunbutter, dates, and vanilla from Sandi’s Allergy Free Recipes.
- You can also make an inexpensive homemade milk from sunflower seeds. (Sunflower Seed Milk recipe from Nest and Glow)
- Sunflower seeds can be ground into flour that’s a less expensive replacement for almond flour. (Instructions for sunflower seed flour from All Day I Dream About Food.)
- Here’s a sunflower seed basil pesto recipe from Feral Kitchen that subs sunflower seeds in for more expensive nuts.
- Vegan Sandra adds veggies and turns sunflower seeds into a luscious cream sauce for pasta.
- Jeannette’s Healthy Living has a recipe for zoodles tossed with sunflower seed butter dressing.
- Sunflower seeds can also be ground into delicious dips. Here’s a curry sunflower seed hummus from Trial and Eater.
- You can even make a homemade vegan cheese from sunflower seeds! (Sprouted Vegan Sunflower Cheese recipe from Nest and Glow)
- Sunflower seeds can be used in a vegan parmesan replacement as well. (Recipe from Ceara’s Kitchen here.)
→ Note that while the seeds themselves have many health benefits, the processed oil made from sunflower seeds isn’t considered the healthiest choice. Processed sunflower oil may contain solvents and is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which most of us get too much of already. While adding small quantities of whole sunflower seeds to your daily diet can benefit health, you’re likely already getting plenty of the refined oil in prepared foods, and it’s best to balance with fats that have a different composition. (Unrefined coconut oil and avocado oil are great alternatives. I use this brand of coconut oil).
This post is one in a series of Savvy Health Hacks, easy ways to ensure your body has what it needs to function optimally. Ready to hack your health? Check out these other practical tips to help you fight colds, sleep better, ward off disease, and have more energy:
- How to Eat For Better Sleep
- Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?
- Why You Need a Water Filter
- Immune Boosting Foods
- Health Benefits of Potassium
- Easy Health Hack: Sit Less
- Anti Inflammatory Food
- Health Benefits of Turmeric
- Are You D-ficient?
- Easy Ways to Reduce Cortisol
What are your favorite ways to enjoy the health benefits of sunflower seeds? Share in the comments!
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Disclaimer: I’m a health enthusiast, not a medical professional. Content on this website is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to provide personalized medical advice. I draw on numerous health sources, some of which are linked above. Please consult them for more information and a licensed professional for personalized recommendations.
Photo credits: Hans, Pezibear, All Day I Dream About Food