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Sunflowers are considered to be Earth’s way of smiling at us. Their big, vibrant yellow petals add brightness to almost any garden or field, and their unique attraction to the sun makes them a flower unlike any other. But aside from their visually appealing appearance, sunflowers are also extremely tasty–not in their flower form, of course, but in their seed form.

Native Americans were the first to make use of sunflower seeds thousands of years ago. They dried them out and crushed them to thicken soups and drinks, and they extracted oil from the seeds by boiling them and using the liquid that rose to the top for their hair. The natives also created sunflower meal by roasting the seeds and then pounding them in small batches.

Since the 1600s, after Russia’s Peter the Great was captivated by sunflowers while in Holland and brought them back to his native country, more and more people throughout the world started snacking on sunflower seeds and using them for oil production. The flower has since then become a symbol for hope and happiness, as well as only second to the soybean as an oil crop on the world market.

Today sunflower seeds are one of the most popular snacks around. And while other forms of this nutritious superseed are not as popular yet, they are slowly making their way into the mainstream as people learn more about how beneficial they are for the human body.

Health Benefits

Sunflower seeds offer all kinds of health benefits, and they can be consumed in many different ways. Spread some sunflower seed butter on a slice of toast, use sunflower seed oil as the base of a salad dressing or incorporate sunflower milk into a baking recipe. No matter how you use it, your body will be sure to take advantage of the following nutrients:

  • In every 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds, there’s six grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 190 milligrams of potassium.
  • These superseeds are rich in iron, thiamin, niacin, folate, zinc and selenium.
  • They’re high in vitamins E, B1 and B6, which are essential for producing and converting food into energy.
  • They contain an incredible amount of magnesium, copper and manganese: a 15 percent daily value per serving.

Add Some Sunshine to Your Meals

Sunflower seeds are great to snack on alone, but their taste makes them the perfect addition to many sweet and savory recipes. Check out some from our Green Monsters the next time you want to add a tasty nutritious boost to your meal or dessert.

  1. Red Lentil Burgers with Kale Pesto
  2. Coconut Oatmeal Cookies with Coconut Glaze
  3. Berry Antioxidant Granola
  4. Golden Beet Ravioli with Sundried Tomato and Italian Herb Filling
  5. Sunsational Corn Chowder (uses sunflower milk)
  6. Vegan Pastitsio

Product Recommendations

As we mentioned before, there are a lot of great sunflower seed products out there besides the raw seeds. And to help narrow down your choices, we’ve picked out some from our favorite brands.

1. Go Raw Sprouted Sunflower Seeds

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Go Raw’s organic raw sprouted sunflower seeds are made with nothing but the seeds and some celtic sea salt, and it’s also gluten and wheat free.