The sunflower seed is the fruit of the sunflower. The term "sunflower seed" is actually a misnomer when applied to the seed in its pericarp. Botanically speaking, it is more properly referred to as an achene. When dehulled, the edible remainder is called the sunflower kernel or heart.
There are three types of commonly used sunflower seeds: linoleic (most common), high oleic, and NuSun. Each variety has its own unique levels of monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated fats.
For commercial purposes, sunflower seeds are usually classified by the pattern on their husks. If the husk is solid black, the seeds are called black oil sunflower seeds. The crops may be referred to as oilseed sunflower crops. These seeds are usually pressed to extract their oil. Striped sunflower seeds are primarily used for food; as a result, they may be called confectionery sunflower seeds.
Sunflower seeds are more commonly eaten as a healthy snack than as part of a meal. 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.
When in-shell seeds are processed, they are first dried. Afterwards, they may also be roasted or dusted with salt or flour for preservation of flavor. Dehulling is commonly performed by cracking the hull with one's teeth and spitting it out while keeping the kernel in the mouth and eating it.
In-shell sunflower seeds are particularly popular in Mediterranean and Asian countries, including Egypt, Syria, Israel, Turkey, and Malaysia. In Turkey, Syria and Israel they can be bought freshly roasted in shops and markets and are a common stadium food, while in Malaysia they can be bought freshly packed in various roasted flavors. They are also popular in countries worldwide including Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, Spain, China, Morocco, Iran, Canada and the United States. In the United States, they are commonly eaten by baseball players as an alternative to chewing tobacco.
Dehulled kernels have been mechanically processed to remove the hull. These kernels may be sold raw or roasted. These dehulled kernels are sometimes added to bread and other baked goods for their flavor. There is also sunflower butter, similar to peanut butter, but using sunflower seeds instead of peanuts. Apart from human consumption, sunflower seeds are also sold as food for pets and wild birds in boxes and small bags.
The hulls, or shells, are mostly composed of cellulose. They decompose slowly. They are burned as biomass fuel.
The Sunflower Seeds are packed with health benefits that can help you from head to toe. They’re easily available all year round, and just a scant handful of them can mean dramatic improvement in the way you feel.
They control cell damage, thus playing a role in preventing cancer. This is because sunflower seeds are a good source of selenium, which is a proven enemy of cancer.
They contain bone-healthy minerals. Besides calcium, your bones need magnesium and copper to stay strong. Sunflower seeds have both these minerals. As a bonus, they also contain Vitamin E, which helps ease arthritic pain.
They keep you calm. Yes! The magnesium in sunflower seeds is reputed for soothing the nerves, thus easing away stress, migraines and helping you relax.
They bring a glow to your skin. The star in this role: Vitamin E again, which combats UV rays and keeps skin youthful.
They ease every condition that’s inflammatory in nature, such as joint pain, gastric ulcers, skin eruptions, asthma and such. That’s because sunflower seeds are loaded with antioxidants.
Just ¼ cup of sunflower seeds a day can keep heart troubles away. These small seeds disallow ‘bad’ cholesterol from sticking to the walls of your arteries, thus preventing heart attacks.
With their crunchy, nutty taste, sunflower seeds can easily become a regular part of your daily diet. Sprinkle them on your salads, granola, stir-fries. Stir them into yogurt, pop them into sandwiches, rice, pasta, or knead them into your dough…the possibilities are as endless as the good qualities of these sun-loving seeds.
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