S is for Sunflower Seeds

Jane Lawson

I'm a 20-something on a mission to defining myself, and ending stigma surrounding allergies, autism and out-of-the-box thinkers. In my free time, I write the unconventional web series I've been creating, tend to my garden, and binge-watch stuff on Netflix. I blog at janepedia.com.

Sunflower seeds didn’t totally enter my everyday diet until I came home with three pages stapled together of all the things I’m allergic to. Well, almost all—I couldn’t be tested for nuts due to the risk of anaphylaxis.

Since I was so sick, I was teetering on the edge of utterly desperate: I’d do nearly anything to rid myself of a horrendously sore throat. I was tired of choking on air every night. Strep throat paired with sleep apnea is miserable and terrifying. Add asthma into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a lethal combination.

(I felt like I was dying, no lie.)

I was suddenly limited to what I could eat, so I started making a list of things I could eat. What is opposite of nuts? Seeds.

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Sunflower seed benefits

Sunflower seeds are a healthy source of essential fatty acids, which are in the form of linoleic acid, and an excellent source of Vitamin E.

They’re also a good source of

  • manganese,
  • selenium,
  • phosphorus,
  • magnesium,
  • Vitamins B1 and B6,
  • folate,
  • copper,
  • niacin, and
  • polyphenolic antioxidant chlorogenic acid.

Sunflower seeds promote cardiovascular health and healthy cholesterol.

sunflower-seeds_sunflowersSunflower seed risks

It’s better to eat raw, unflavored and untreated sunflower seeds to avoid unwanted additives, like MSG or added flavors, which may contain anywhere from 1 to over 400 unspecified chemicals.

Prepared sunflower seeds often have tons of salt. If you want roasted/salted sunflower seeds, consider making them in the comfort of your own home, wherein you know precisely how much salt and what exactly is going into the process.

Moderation is always best

Avoid a selenium overdose, among other health risks (e.g. tooth/gum damage from cracking shells), by consuming sunflower seeds in moderation.

Eating a balanced, colorful diet helps your body gain the nutrients it needs.

How to consume sunflower seeds

Not quite sure how you can work sunflower seeds into your diet? Here are some suggestions!

Sunflower seed milk

Rinse your raw, shelled sunflower seeds in water. Then, put into a bowl with a nylon dish towel or a milk bag strainer, often referred to as a “nut milk bag”. Soak overnight, or for at least eight hours. Strain and squeeze water (i.e. milk) from sunflower seeds. Use honey, cinnamon and/or vanilla to taste!

Instead of tossing the pulp (pepita), use it for crackers, or to give your smoothies a boost!

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Sunflower seed butter

In a food processor or blender, blend shelled sunflower seeds until they form a seed butter spread. You may need to add a tablespoon of water or a little oil (e.g. sunflower seed oil) to help it blend better and smoother. Once finished, you might need to add some oil to keep it from trying out.

If you prefer toasted, salted sunflower seed butter, roast them yourself before turning them into seed butter.

Alternatively, your local grocery/health store may have sunflower seed butter. SunButter is my favorite!

Baked goods (bread, cookies) or not (granola bars)

Toss in 1/4 cups of sunflower seeds into your favorite homemade bread or cookie recipe, or exchange the chocolate chips in your granola bar recipe for sunflower seeds! The possibilities are endless.

Sources


Do you like sunflower seeds? What’s your favorite way to eat them?

Post Author: Jane Lawson

I'm a 20-something on a mission to defining myself, and ending stigma surrounding allergies, autism and out-of-the-box thinkers. In my free time, I write the unconventional web series I've been creating, tend to my garden, and binge-watch stuff on Netflix. I blog at janepedia.com.

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