October 4, 2023

Barbara Intermill | Tribune Information Service (TNS)

This time of yr, the sight all the time takes my breath away: acres and acres of sunflowers in full bloom, smiling on the solar as we drive via rural areas of our state.

The cultivated beauties are associated to the smaller and extra prolific sunflowers (they’re too fairly to name weeds) that pop up alongside roadsides and hills all through a lot of North America.

Native People had been the primary individuals to cultivate wild sunflowers for his or her seeds, in keeping with the Nationwide Sunflower Affiliation.

In the present day, there are two primary varieties of business sunflowers: one which produces the everyday black-and-white striped seeds we eat for snacks, and one other that bears smaller black seeds used to make oil.

And simply so I get my semantics proper, there’s a distinction between a sunflower kernel and a sunflower seed. The kernel is the “meat” that has been faraway from the outer shell (or hull) of a sunflower seed, say consultants. Once we eat sunflower seeds, we’ve got to crack the shells open to get to the kernel.

How do sunflower-based merchandise stack up nutritionally?

Fairly darn good, truly.

An oz of sunflower kernels (about 1/4 cup) gives a bunch of essential vitamins, together with protein, dietary fiber, copper and zinc. Like different seeds and nuts, sunflower kernels are comparatively excessive in fats, but their fats profile is an effective one. Nearly 90% of the fats within the yummy seeds is “good” unsaturated fats that makes our hearts glad.

I used to be stunned to be taught that sunflower seeds are additionally one of many richest entire meals sources of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant. Current research have proven that actual meals (as an alternative of dietary supplements) is the very best and most secure option to get this nutrient.

Primarily based on their nutrient worth, the present Dietary Tips for People 2020-2025 place sunflower seeds and sunflower butter in the identical protein meals class as nuts and soy merchandise. And sunflower oil is really helpful as a healthful fats supply.

Uncooked or oil-roasted?

Surprisingly, the energy, fats and different vitamins are related between the 2 … with one exception. Roasted seeds and kernels usually include extra sodium (salt).

Ought to individuals with nut allergic reactions keep away from sunflower seeds?

Specialists say allergic reactions to sunflower seeds or oil are very uncommon. Nonetheless, if you’re allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, verify meals labels to ensure sunflower seeds have been packed in a peanut- and nut-free facility.

Lastly, do sunflowers actually observe the solar?

“When the plant is within the bud stage, it tends to trace the motion of the solar throughout the horizon,” says the Nationwide Sunflower Affiliation. “As soon as the flower opens into the radiance of yellow petals, it faces east. Nobody is aware of why. Nonetheless, it’s probably a defensive response. Dealing with south or west may lead to sun-scalding of seeds throughout highly regarded days.”

I nonetheless assume they’re smiling.

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