Sunflower seeds are technically the fruits of the sunflower plant
The seeds are harvested from the plant’s large flower heads. A single sunflower head may contain up to 2,000 seeds.
There are two main types of sunflower crops. One type is grown for the seeds you eat, while the other — which is the majority farmed — is grown for the oil.
The sunflower seeds you eat are encased in inedible black-and-white striped shells, also called hulls. Those used for extracting sunflower oil have solid black shells.
Sunflower seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and a firm but tender texture. They’re often roasted to enhance the flavor, though you can also buy them raw.
Sunflower seeds are especially high in vitamin E and selenium. These function as antioxidants to protect your body’s cells against free radical damage, which plays a role in several chronic diseases.
Additionally, sunflower seeds are a good source of beneficial plant compounds, including phenolic acids and flavonoids — which also function as antioxidants.
When sunflower seeds are sprouted, their plant compounds increase. Sprouting also reduces factors that can interfere with mineral absorption. You can buy sprouted, dried sunflower seeds online or in some stores.