There are few garden plants more impressive than the stately sunflower, with its enormous, yellow-petaled blossoms cheerfully greeting passersby from atop towering stalks.
As it turns out, the sunflower’s seeds are just as impressive for the nutrients they provide.
Sunflower seeds are known as a rich source of vitamin E. In addition, an ounce of kernels supplies significant amounts of copper, fiber, folate, pantothenic acid, protein, selenium, vitamin B6 and zinc, in addition to iron, magnesium, thiamin and niacin.
The fat sunflower seeds contain is mostly of the beneficial unsaturated kind. What’s more, they are a good source of healthful compounds calledphytosterols.
Sunflowers were first cultivated roughly 5,000 years ago by Native American tribes in what is now the southwestern US. The seeds were ground into meal for use in baked goods and in vegetable dishes featuring beans and corn.
The seeds were also eaten out of hand as a snack and pressed into oil—two of the most common usages today. This explains the presence of two separate seed varieties, the small, black oilseed and the larger, striped “confectionery” kind.
Sunflower seeds are a versatile resource for the health-conscious cook. They lend a mildly nutty flavor to salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, stir-frys, trail mixes and breakfast cereals.
In addition, sunflower oil’s high smoke point makes it a good choice for frying, and its light taste and appearance allows the flavor of other foods to come through cleanly.
Sunflower seeds make great snacks. But don’t forget to put the power of the sunflower—both seeds and oil—to work in your kitchen.
Good Day Granola
Looking for a quick, nutritious breakfast? This granola is what you’re looking for.
8 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups unprocessed bran
1 1/2 cups natural wheat germ (not toasted or honeyed)
3/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/2 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups raisins
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup dried mixed fruit, chopped
Yield: 18 cups
Source: National Sunflower Association
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.