Home Nuts/Seeds Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seeds


(Nuts/Seed Sprout)

A native of the Americas, sunflowers are now widely cultivated. A valuable source of vitamins and minerals, the seeds were ground and used as meal by native Americans. Producing large sprouts which contain all the known vitamins, even B-complex and D, sunflower seeds have a sweet, nutty flavor and a crispy texture.

Quickly gaining in popularity, many consider sunflower sprouts to be the best tasting, most versatile sprouts available. They are great fresh, frozen, or cooked. Once grown only in dirt, the hydroponically grown sprouts command a premium price.

The very first sunflowers came from the Four Corners area of the Southwestern U.S., and native people were making use of the seeds as far back as 2,000 years ago.

The Spanish brought sunflowers home in the 1500s. Though the seeds became especially popular in Eastern Europe, Americans had little use for them. Ironically, it was Russian

immigrants who reintroduced sunflower seeds to America in the late 19th century.

Sunflower plants can grow up to 10-feet tall. The heads of young plants follow the sun from east to west. There are more than 50 different kinds of sunflower plants.
Sunflowers are harvested for their seeds in the north central United States, as well as throughout Europe and parts of Asia and South America.

Most sunflower seeds are processed for their oil. The rest -- less than 25% of the total -- are for consumption. Oil seeds are generally small and black; the confectionery seeds (which are what we eat) are usually striped.

As there is some confusion regarding terminology, it is best to begin by specifying sunflower sprouts as hulled sunflower seeds that have been soaked and sprouted for a day or so. Sunflower greens are the baby plants that result when unhulled seeds are grown in soil, generally for 7-8 days.

One can think of the sprouts as pre-digested seeds. Unsprouted sunflower seeds are high in fat and protein. However, sprouting activates the seed, with many changes as it sprouts: dramatic increase in enzyme levels, seed fats are converted to essential fatty acids and carbohydrates, proteins are converted to essential amino acids and/or sugars, and vitamin levels (on a dry basis) increase substantially. Due to their activate enzymes, sprouts are much easier to digest than dry seeds. Further, as the seed sprouts its flavor is enhanced - sunflower sprouts have an earthy flavor and are very popular.

While the sprouts are pre-digested seeds, the greens are a tender baby vegetable, high in chlorophyll, and a substitute for lettuce. Sunflower greens have a slightly salty taste that some compare to watercress. They are rich in chlorophyll, enzymes, vitamins, proteins, and the most important "nutrient", the life force. Some writers report the greens are a rich source of lecithin and Vitamin D. Additionally, unlike most expensive freeze-dried supplements such as spirulina and algae, sunflower greens that you grow are alive up to the time you eat them (most freeze-dried items are dead).

Sunflower greens are a delicious addition to salads. Additionally, they can be juiced and used in green drinks or added to carrot juice. If you find the juice too strong by itself, you can mix it with celery juice or fennel juice (can juice green fennel tops.



Seeds, sunflower seeds, dried

Scientific Name: Helianthus annuus

Nutrient Units Value per
100 grams of
edible portion
Water g 5.36 21 0.341
Energy kcal 570 0
Energy kj 2385 0
Protein g 22.78 21 0.749
Total lipid (fat) g 49.57 21 0.788
Ash g 3.53 9 0.212
Carbohydrate, by difference g 18.76 0
Fiber, total dietary g 10.5 0
Calcium, Ca mg 116 2
Iron, Fe mg 6.77 2
Magnesium, Mg mg 354 1
Phosphorus, P mg 705 2
Potassium, K mg 689 0
Sodium, Na mg 3 1
Zinc, Zn mg 5.06 2
Copper, Cu mg 1.752 2
Manganese, Mn mg 2.020 1
Selenium, Se mcg 59.5 10 1.489
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid mg 1.4 0
Thiamin mg 2.290 1
Riboflavin mg 0.250 1
Niacin mg 4.500 1
Pantothenic acid mg 6.745 0
Vitamin B-6 mg 0.770 0
Folate, total mcg 227 0
Folic acid mcg 0 0
Folate, food mcg 227 0
Folate, DFE mcg_DFE 227 0
Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.00 0
Vitamin A, IU IU 50 0
Retinol mcg 0 0
Vitamin A, RAE mcg_RAE 3 0
Vitamin E mg_ATE 50.270 0
Fatty acids, total saturated g 5.195 0
4:0 g 0.000 0
6:0 g 0.000 0
8:0 g 0.000 0
10:0 g 0.000 0
12:0 g 0.000 0
14:0 g 0.051 14
16:0 g 2.795 169
18:0 g 2.202 169
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated g 9.462 0
16:1 undifferentiated g 0.049 15
18:1 undifferentiated g 9.356 169
20:1 g 0.048 10
22:1 undifferentiated g 0.000 0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated g 32.735 0
18:2 undifferentiated g 32.632 169
18:3 undifferentiated g 0.069 12
18:4 g 0.000 0
20:4 undifferentiated g 0.000 0
20:5 n-3 g 0.000 0
22:5 n-3 g 0.000 0
22:6 n-3 g 0.000 0
Cholesterol mg 0 0
Phytosterols mg 534 0
Amino acids
Tryptophan g 0.348 25
Threonine g 0.928 41
Isoleucine g 1.139 41
Leucine g 1.659 41
Lysine g 0.937 44
Methionine g 0.494 40
Cystine g 0.451 26
Phenylalanine g 1.169 40
Tyrosine g 0.666 31
Valine g 1.315 41
Arginine g 2.403 35
Histidine g 0.632 35
Alanine g 1.117 26
Aspartic acid g 2.446 26
Glutamic acid g 5.579 26
Glycine g 1.461 26
Proline g 1.182 25
Serine g 1.075 26

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 15 (August 2002