Phone

Foods

Sunflower seeds

Why Eat It
Varieties
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Why Eat It

Sunflower seeds are an outstanding source of antioxidant vitamin E, and also supply good amounts of folate (folic acid) and other B vitamins, and minerals including copper, magnesium, and selenium. These seeds come from the center of the familiar tall, daisylike sunflower that is native to North America. Sunflowers have long been a staple of the vegetarian larder, and in the last decade they have become widely popular both as a snack and an ingredient in recipes for foods such as baked goods and salads.

Varieties

The plump, nutlike kernels of what is called the "confection sunflower" grow in teardrop-shaped, gray-and-white shells (another type, the oil sunflower, has black-shelled seeds). Shelled sunflower seeds are sometimes labeled sunflower kernels or nuts.

Availability

Sunflower seeds are sold in supermarkets, candy stores, and health-food stores. They come in vacuum sealed jars or cellophane bags, and are also sold in bulk.

Shopping

When buying in-shell sunflower seeds in bulk, check to see that they have clean, unbroken shells. Sample a few to be sure that they're crisp and fresh, not limp, rubbery, or off-tasting. There shouldn't be a lot of dust and debris in the bin. Because they are high in fat, sunflower seeds are susceptible to becoming rancid; shop at a store where there is a rapid turnover in bulk products.

Storage

Because of their high fat content, sunflower seeds that you won't be using within a few days should be kept in a cool, dry place in a tightly closed container. Better still, keep them in the refrigerator or freezer. If they are properly wrapped, freezing will not significantly affect their flavor or texture.

Preparation

Toasting brings out the flavor of sunflower seeds, and can be done either in the oven or in a skillet on the stovetop. If you'll be using the seeds for baking, it's most convenient to toast them in the oven while it preheats. For oven toasting, place the seeds in a shallow pan and bake for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. For stovetop toasting, place the shelled seeds in an ungreased skillet and cook over low heat, stirring and shaking the pan to keep the seeds from scorching. Cook for about three minutes, or until the seeds are fragrant. Whichever method you use, remove the seeds from the pan immediately after toasting so that they do not continue to cook from the retained heat of the pan.

Nutrition Chart

Sunflower Seeds/1 ounce

162
Total fat (g)
14
Saturated fat (g)
1.5
Monounsaturated fat (g)
2.7
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
9.3
Dietary fiber (g)
3
7
Carbohydrate (g)
5
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
1
Vitamin E (mg)
14
Folate (mcg)
64
Pantothenic acid (mg)
1.9
Copper (mg)
0.5
Magnesium (mg)
100
Manganese (mg)
0.6
Phosphorus (mg)
200
Potassium (mg)
195
Selenium (mcg)
17


Date Published: 04/21/2005
Previous  |  Next
> Printer-friendly Version Return to Top