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5 Easy Recipes Using Nutrient-Packed Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are full of vitamin E, selenium, and healthy fat—and there's a sunflower seed recipe for every meal.

By Amy Ahlberg

tags: RECIPES



5 Easy Recipes Using Nutrient-Packed Sunflower Seeds

Top seed: Sunflower seeds ramp up the nutrtion content of these banana cookies.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—You’ve probably eaten sunflower seeds in trail mix before, or maybe you’ve enjoyed them on their own. But you may not realize that these nutrient-packed little wonders also make great ingredients when you’re cooking and baking. And wonders they are: Just half a cup of sunflower seeds provides more than 100 percent of your daily requirement for alpha-tocopherol, the most active form of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free-radical damage that can lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Though we need 15 milligrams a day of vitamin E, many people get only about half that. The vitamin also helps cells communicate with each other, protects against UV damage, and aids in absorption of other nutrients.

Sunflower seeds also provide linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that’s good for your heart. In the Nurses' Health Study, women who had the highest intakes of linoleic acid had a 23 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who had the lowest intakes. In addition to being a great source of protein for vegetarians, sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of the minerals magnesium, selenium, and folate and a good source of zinc (and don't worry, we have a recipe list for zinc coming up later this week).

You can find sunflower seeds in most grocery stores and health food stores, and buying them in bulk will save you money and cut down on the packaging you'll have to throw away. And as you prep your yard for winter and plan next spring's garden, consider harvesting your own seeds next year. It's hard to name another flower that can have such a visual impact on your landscape and provide so much nutrition.

Breakfast is a great time to incorporate sunflower seeds into your diet. Simply add a few tablespoons to granola or hot cereal, or spread sunflower seed butter, a delicate, sweet alternative to peanut butter, on toast. For lunch and dinner, try these Rodale Recipe Finder recipes for salads, savory dishes, and desserts.

#1: Green Salad with Nuts and Seeds. This sunflower seed recipe shows how the seeds make an easy, natural addition to a salad. And for something a little different, try this Beet and Arugula Salad.

#2: Crunchy Tuna Melt. This protein-packed lunch couldn’t be simpler to prepare, adding extra flavor and nutrition to a lunchtime staple. Storage tip: Sunflower seeds easily turn rancid, so always store them in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Published on: October 19, 2009
Updated on: March 11, 2010



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Sunflower seeds

I eat the whole thing but most people I know take the seed out. I think it's too much trouble. You can buy shelled sunflower seeds at a variety of healthy food departments of grocery stores (Wegman's carries them) as well as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Probably at big health food stores as well.

Sunflower seed shells

I see lots of sunflower seeds now being sold alongside peanuts and cashews in the convenience stores, but they all have shells on them and none seem to be opened (like pistachios), Is there an easy way to get the seeds out of the shells? Or do people actually eat them whole?

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