Who would have ever thought that those seeds you pop into your mouth, crack the shell, nibble on the kernal and then spit out the empty shell would be good for you? Well they are, both physically and mentally!
So, why are sunflower seeds one of nature's wonder foods? Check out the nutrients these little guys contain: fiber, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B9, Vitamin E, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron, selenium, phosphorus and, unsaturated fat (also known as the "good fat"). All of those nutrients in a little kernal which is only about 1/4-inch in size!
Where sunflower seeds are mentally good for you is the fact they are a crunchy snack. According to many scientific studies, healthy crunchy snacks satisfy your munchie cravings. It should be pointed out that opposed to some popular belief, sunflower seeds do not really aid in quitting smoking. It just seems that way because your hands are busy while you're munching them, thus mentally you don't reach for the cigarette.
Sunflower seeds have actually been a favorite natural snack food for over 5,000 years, since they were first cultivated for food in Mexico and Peru. Though sunflower seeds are a very popular healthy snack in America and you see sunflowers blossoming all over, America is not the largest producer of these treats. That title goes to... Russia!
When talking about the health of sunflower seeds, it does not include those salty, roasted seeds you buy in packages. The health benefits come from raw sunflower seeds, albeit the packaged ones are nutritionally better for you than most other high fat snacks.
If you want to really enjoy the true taste of sunflower seeds and be satiated by their crunch, give Banana Oat and Sunflower Seed Bread a try. Here is a great dessert bread/snack that contains three of nature's wonder foods!
Ingredients needed to make Banana Oat and Sunflower Seed Bread (makes one 9x5 loaf):
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 bananas, peeled and mashed
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Into a mixer add the butter and sugar and beat until pale. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Add the bananas and beat until well combined.
- In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, oats and sunflower seeds.
- Add the flower mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and even out.
- Place in the oven and bake 50 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan 10 minutes.
- Remove from the pan and let cool on a rack until ready to serve.
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