Sunflower seeds are the fruit of the sunflower (Helianthus annuus). The term “sunflower seed” is actually a misnomer when applied to the seed in its pericarp. Botanically speaking, it is a cypsela.
Sunflower seeds have the power to nourish the entire body. They are a rich source of easily digestible and assimilable protein which is essential for the repair of tissues, nerves, and cells.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin D, B-complex, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E. Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, is an antioxidant that can protect cells from free-radical damage and aid in preventing heart disease, cancer, and eye degeneration such as cataracts.
Sunflower seeds are also high in selenium, magnesium, zinc, and iron which helps to strengthen the blood and immune system.
They also contain lignans, phenolic acids, and tryptophan making them an ideal food to eat for those who are seeking better sleep and weight loss.
Sunflower seeds have also been known to help prevent asthma, atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack, clogged arteries, and osteoarthritis. They contain no cholesterol and are very low in saturated fats making them highly beneficial for the cardiovascular system.
Raw sunflower seeds also contain pectin which has the unique ability to bind to radioactive residues and remove them safely from the body.
Sunflower seeds can help to relieve sensitivity to light, eyestrain, and farsightedness. They also are highly beneficial for strengthening hair and nails.
Raw sunflower seeds or sunflower seed butter are a healthy and nutrient rich snack that should be included into the diet for a wide range of benefits.
They can also be used as garnishes or ingredients in various recipes. The seeds may be sold as in-shell seeds or dehulled kernels.
The seeds can also be sprouted and eaten in salads. Raw sunflower seeds tossed on top of a salad add flavor and texture.
Try grinding a cup or two of sunflower seeds in a food processor with some garlic, lemon juice, and fresh herbs.
It creates a delicious nutty spread or dip that can help boost your immune system and fuel your body with real energy and nutrition.
An annual plant, sunflowers have big, daisy-like flower faces of bright yellow petals (and occasionally red) and brown centers that ripen into heavy heads filled with seeds.
Tall and course, the plants have creeping or tuberous roots and large, bristly leaves.
Some sunflowers grow to over 16 feet in height though there are also varieties today that have been developed for small spaces and containers.
Most sunflowers are remarkably tough and easy to grow as long as the soil is not waterlogged. Most are heat and drought tolerant. They make excellent cut flowers and many are attractive to bees and birds.
To harvest seeds, keep an eye out for ripeness. The back of the flower head will turn from green to yellow and the bracts will begin to dry and turn brown; this happens about 30 to 45 days after bloom and seed moisture is about 35%.
Generally, when the head turns brown on the back, seeds are usually ready for harvest.
Cut the head off the plant (about 4 inches below the flower head) and remove the seeds with your fingers or a fork.
Growing sunflowers add joy to any yard or landscape!
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