Sunflower seeds are packed with vitamins, including vitamin B1 and B5, vitamin E and folate. They also provide a healthy dose of copper, magnesium, selenium and phosphorous–important minerals. Just a quarter of a cup–four tablespoons–of seeds holds half the daily requirement or more of these important nutrients. The fats present in sunflower seeds are also good quality, heart healthy fats that can help increase “good” cholesterol and protect the heart and cardiovascular system.
Of these nutrients, vitamin E in particular is a powerful antioxidant, helping preserve cardiovascular health. Sunflower seeds are quite high in vitamin E, with ninety percent of the recommended daily allowance of this vitamin in a quarter cup. Also helpful to cardiovascular health and cholesterol maintenance are lignans, arginine and phenolic acids. While these substances are less well-known to most people, studies increasingly show benefits from increasing their intake.
Other substances found in sunflower seeds include tryptophan and choline. Also found in pumpkin seeds, tryptophan can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Choline appears to help increase brain function, particularly helping to improve memory. With this wide combination of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, sunflower seeds are a surprisingly nutrient dense food.