Sunflower seeds are enjoyed eaten as a snack, sprinkled on salads, added to recipes, or on top of cereal. They have a crunchy texture and a mild nutty flavor. Whether raw or roasted, sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Sunflower seeds are loaded with Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium and phosphorus. They also are an excellent source of phytosterols, beneficial in reducing cholesterol, enhancing the immune system, and decreasing the risk of certain cancers. Roasting only very slightly reduces antioxidant benefits or healthy fats.
There are 160 calories in 1 cup of raw sunflower seeds (kernel). The kernel is the meat of the sunflower seed. The kernels are sold with the hull removed for convenience. The kernels are sold sold raw, roasted (most popular for snacking) or used as an ingredient.
Raw sunflower seeds are sold with the meat of the seed still encased in the shell. They are usually roasted and seasoned (with salt). Raw sunflower seeds are consumed by carefully cracking the shell, discarding the hull, and enjoying the inner meat.
Shelled or Unshelled
Unshelled sunflower seeds can be raw or roasted. Unshelled seeds should not be broken or dirty, and they should be firm. Shelled seeds that are yellowish in color (a sign they have turned rancid) should be avoided. Also, any seeds emitting an odor are to be avoided.
Roasting sunflower seeds at home is done by first soaking the seeds overnight in salted water and then baking in a 300-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. The seeds should crack down the middle as they roast.
Sunflower seeds have a high fat content and are prone to turning rancid. They should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Sunflower seeds can also be frozen without damage or affecting flavor.