The salty flavor of crunchy sunflower seeds make them one of the most beloved snacks across the globe. But did you know that on top of satisfying your savory cravings, they’re also pretty darn good for you?
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the impressive nutritional data found inside 100 grams (a little less than a cup) of sunflower seeds: nine grams of fiber, 19.4 grams of protein, 26.1 grams of vitamin E, 129 milligrams of magnesium, 79.4 micrograms of selenium, 69 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acid, and 3,2785 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acid.
The fiber, protein, and magnesium levels will get you over 30 percent of the daily recommended amount of each, while the hefty portions of vitamin E and selenium can knock you over the 100 percent daily recommend amount for them, too. Not too shabby for a handful of seeds, right?
Vitamin E is well-known for its skin-boosting benefits, but studies also show that it’s also helpful at lowering certain inflammatory markers that lead to a higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Another study that observed 6,000 adults who ate sunflower seeds either rarely, once a week, a few times a week, or more than five times a week, showed those who consumed the most had a significant dip in levels of inflammatory markers thanks to all that vitamin E.
The snack has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (AKA the bad one), according to Nutrition journal. Researchers explain how the abundance of omega fatty acids in sunflower seeds (and almonds) helps blood vessels relax, lowering issues like high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Adding sunflowers to high-carb food like bread was also shown in another study to slow down the processing of sugar from carbohydrates and keep blood sugar levels in check.
Of course, the delicious salty snack is unsurprisingly high in sodium (410 milligrams per 100 grams), so it’s important to keep an eye on that if you’ve already got issues with salt intake. Sunflower seeds are also often packed with an element called cadmium, a heavy metal that can cause damage to kidneys if you overdo it. Definitely check with your doctor if you’ve had any previous problems with your sodium levels or kidney function before adding more of these seeds to your diet.
Otherwise, enjoy this snack and all of the healthy perks whenever your cravings strike!