The rich benefits of sunflower seeds are evident to see in the bright beautiful colour and stature of the sunflower plant. The health value of these seeds is as glowing and impressive as the plant itself.  

However these seeds do not seem to generate as much interest as pumpkin or chia seeds but they are just as impressive when it comes to their nutritional content and analysis and they deserve this positive moment in the spotlight. Sunflower oil which is extracted from the seed does provide a source of Vitamin E but please choose an unrefined, cold pressed organic source. RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU

Rich source of plant protein

½ a cup of seeds will provide you with 14.5 grams of protein which is necessary for muscle and cell growth and repair. It is also a good source of the Branch Chain Amino Acids leucine, isoleucine and valine which are the amino acids that make up one third of muscle protein and are a vital substrate for two other amino acids – glutamine and alanine, which are released in large quantities during intense aerobic exercise. These amino acids can be used directly as fuel for your muscles so are very important in supporting your body through your training.

Source of fibre

Fibre is essential to help support a healthy digestive system and is often lacking in our diets and needs to be bolstered. ½ cup of sunflower seeds provides you with up to 25% of your recommended daily allowance based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Dietary fibre is needed to increase satiety, to help decrease intestinal transit time and to help increase production of short chain fatty-acids.

benefits of sunflower seeds_2Good for skin health

With a high Vitamin E content sunflower seeds function as an important antioxidant and this helps support cells. Though rare, low Vitamin E levels have been reported in conditions such as Acne.

Mighty magnesium

Magnesium is one of the most dominant minerals within our cells, with the majority of it found in the bones. Some of the functions of magnesium include energy production, protein formations and maintaining the electrical charge of cells. ½ cup of sunflower seeds contains up to 225mg of magnesium which would account for over 50% of recommended daily allowance.

Source of thiamine

Thiamine (B1) is easily destroyed in cooking or heating so eating raw sunflower seeds will provide you with an excellent source of this vitamin. This vitamin is so essential that it was added by law in most countries to all flour with the exception of wholemeal flour (as the vitamin is retained within the flour). Thiamine is essential for nerve cell function and energy production. There are many way in which you can easily and immediately build sunflower seeds into your diet – including eating them raw – but here is a recipe to get you started…

Sunflower Pesto

Ingredients – 1 cup of sunflower seeds (hulled) – 3 cups of chopped Basil leaves – ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil – 1 clove of crushed garlic Directions In your food processor blitz the Basil with the seeds, add the garlic and slowly add the oil. It is delicious added to salads or topped on some grain free linseed bread. Connect with Expert Sinead Loughnane

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