Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Get Serious About Sunflower Seeds

By Alana Sugar, April 11, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar

If you believe in sensible snacking (and even if you don’t), you’ve got to get serious about sunflower seeds, the famous “fruit” of the gorgeous sunflower, a native to North America and a member of the daisy family. Not long ago, sunflower seeds were recognized as healthy nutrition … for birds! I remember when my sister brought home a bag and my father asked her where the bird was. Back then, they came in the shell; I had to break them open with my teeth to get to the tasty little kernel on the inside. They are so much easier to enjoy now that they are available shelled. Move over birds!

The nutritional profile of sunflower seeds makes them ideal for humans, too. Did you know that one ounce of shelled sunflower seeds contains nearly 50% the Daily Value for Vitamin E? They deliver antioxidants, powerful compounds that support healthy cells. They also contain fiber, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. And very importantly, sunflower seeds deliver healthy unsaturated fats. Here are some super suggestions for enjoying sunflower seeds:

  • Add to cereal, hot or cold.
  • Garnish salads and grain dishes.
  • Add to cookies, muffins, quick breads and cakes. Here is a favorite recipe for Sunflower Cherry Oatmeal Bars and here’s another favorite recipe for Oatmeal, Coconut and Sunflower Seed Cookies.
  • Add to pancakes and waffles.
  • Sprinkle over sweet potatoes or roasted vegetables.
  • Add to fruit salad, yogurt or frozen dessert.
  • Make homemade trail mix or granola and add sunflower seeds.
  • Delicious as a snack with a few raisins and dark chocolate chips.
  • Bake your own bread? Be sure to sprinkle sunflower seeds over the top before baking. Great on crackers, too! Try these Three Seed Rosemary Crackers.
  • Garnish soups, curries and sautéed veggies. I love this recipe for Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup.
  • Add to chicken, egg, tuna salad or our wonderful Mock Tuna Salad.
  • Add to cream cheese along with your favorite unsweetened fruit spread. Spread on toasted whole grain bread, pita bread or crackers.
  • Add to veggie burgers and vegetarian chili.
  • Buy fresh sunflower sprouts or sprout them yourself, then make this recipe for Carrot and Sunflower Sprout Salad with Basil and Green Peppercorn Oil.
  • Try some purchased Sunflower Seed Butter – just like peanut butter, only made from sunflower seeds. Use as a spread for toast or sandwiches.
  • Garnish bean dips and hummus. Here’s what we did with Sunny Hummus with Dippers.
  • Make your favorite vinaigrette; add sunflower seeds and puree. Great with a touch of Parmesan cheese!

You’ll find sunflower seeds shelled, unshelled, sprouted, prepackaged and available in bulk bins. You’ll also find sunflower seed oil available on our grocery shelves. High-heat sunflower oil is great for baking and sautéing. Remember: Sunflower seeds include unsaturated fats. That means, once shelled, they can go rancid fairly quickly. This is especially true once they have been roasted. Be sure to store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. If you’ve purchased a large quantity, freezing is a perfect option and won’t affect their flavor or texture.

Do you include sunflower seeds in your sensible snacks and meals? Got a favorite recipe or idea? Let me know!




Anita says ...
I was always told NOT to add sunflower seeds to my salad. Or is that because of the type of seeds (salted) they use at most salad bars. I buy sunflower seeds unshelled for my kids as a snack and have never noticed they go bad, of course they probaly don't last long in my house as we eat them like candy. OR is there a "process" I should be staying away from.
04/11/2011 10:35:06 AM CDT
Caitlin Shaffer says ...
This is so true! We have caught on to this great fact and are currently baking Sunflower Wheat Sandwich Loaves! They are made with Fresh Stone Ground Wheat Flour, Water, Honey, Sunflower Seeds, Unbleached and Unbromated Wheat Flour, Ground Flax, Yeast and Salt. Whole Foods in Annapolis, MD and Mt. Washington Baltimore, MD carry our breads!
04/11/2011 11:09:24 AM CDT
sherryl-annette Snyder says ...
When I first had acorn squash it was baked in haves with butter and brown sugar baked in them. After I married I changed the brown sugar to cartels and sunflower seed.
04/11/2011 12:03:19 PM CDT
sherryl-annette Snyder says ...
Changed to carmels. Auto correct should be called auto embarrassing.
04/11/2011 12:06:32 PM CDT
Bea says ...
My favorite way to eat them are sprouted. I have onloy found them at WF and die when you ran out of them. I prepare a veggie sandwich spread with cream cheese and a smidge of jam.
04/11/2011 2:18:20 PM CDT
Steve Verde says ...
Guess what? Whole Foods Market - North Atlantic and Northeast regions have picked up a delicious new non dairy drink made from sunflower seeds. The brand name is Sunsational and will be hitting shelves at Whole Foods in the next couple weeks. There are non dairy beverages made from soy, rice, almond, hemp and now SUNFLOWER!
04/11/2011 8:19:16 PM CDT
Steve Verde says ...
Whole Foods North Atlantic and Whole Foods Northeast will starting carrying a brand new non dairy beverage made from sunflower called Sunsational later this month.
04/12/2011 8:23:54 PM CDT
Karen Spivey says ...
They really are delicious. I made some sunflower meal in my Vita-Mix and added it to my veggie burger mix. I also like sunflower butter.
04/13/2011 5:14:51 PM CDT
christine tripp says ...
Snack on these powerful little seeds in combo with pumpkin seeds, nuts and dried fruits. Was once watching one of the old "you are what you eat" shows from the UK where Gillian Mckeith spoke of Sunflower seeds containing a lot of zinc, good for the sex drive, my hubby finally took the seeds as a snack plunge:)
04/18/2011 7:53:16 AM CDT
ZM says ...
Great to add to smoothies too!
04/19/2011 3:44:57 PM CDT
Jason Mehl says ...
And don't forget they look pretty sweet growing in your yard too! Are all sunflower seeds edible, or are there some varieties you shouldn't grow if you want to eat them?
04/22/2011 6:21:59 AM CDT
Lexie | Lexie's Kitchen says ...
Thanks for this great post! And so many good ideas. This week as birds devoured sunflower seeds in the bird feeder we were sipping on raw Sunflower Carob Milk! http://bit.ly/gPAXVx In my research last week I found that according to the USDA Nutrient Database sunflower seeds are the best whole food source of vitamin E. Nice! Appreciate all the tips and the having the facts and background behind a super food is always helpful. Keep up the great posting WF!! xoLexie Lexie's Kitchen
04/26/2011 9:45:22 AM CDT
@HilaryFleming says ...
I love all the great options you have for sunflower butter, especially because so many people and kids are allergic. I wrote about this today on my blog www.healthgirltv.com. I recently discovered SB and although I really loved the Trader Joes version and I excited to try out other version carried and WF, as I am also an avid shopper there as well.
05/16/2011 4:51:51 PM CDT
Kezlor says ...
Hello, What oil or substance are the Whole Foods "Open Bin" salted Sunflower Seeds roasted with? Where can I find ingredients for "Open Bin" items, as well as other products on the Whole Foods website? Thank you, KEzlor
06/05/2011 8:25:32 PM CDT
Greg says ...
I have no idea that when i buy seeds i can add them to my soup. I am excited to try the Three Seed Rosemary Crackers. They looked delicious.
01/24/2012 2:04:23 PM CST
ralph says ...
i am looking for raw sunflower seeds, already schucked. I cant find them on your site. what is your cost per pound?
08/17/2012 11:13:25 PM CDT
linda dozier says ...
10/23/2012 12:48:09 PM CDT
Kelem Wolde says ...
Sorry, this is not a comment. I like to share this great recipe of Barly, Sunflower-seeds and Penut roasted togeather while their skin on. excellent for snak crunchy. I can provide the sample and the recipe with request. Thanks
05/29/2013 3:47:15 PM CDT
Connie mclaughlin says ...
Can you use the sunflowers seeds in your bulk containers to plant. To make sprouts?
06/14/2013 7:49:03 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CONNIE - I found a great blog post that will guide you through growing sprouts! http://kitchen-apparel.com/2/post/2013/02/how-to-grow-sunflower-greens.html
06/17/2013 5:02:03 PM CDT
carmen says ...
are the black oil sunflower seeds good for growing micro greens. Are they organic. I want to grow sunflower micro greens and need the right kind of sunflower seeds
07/02/2014 11:26:05 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CARMEN - Check with your local store to see if they have organic sunflower seeds in stock. Here is a great tutorial on how to spout them! http://www.rawfoods-livingfoods.com/sunflower-sprouts.html
07/03/2014 3:56:29 PM CDT
GARY sOKA says ...
Can you help me please! Where is the best place on long island for me to buy a 50lb. bag of hulled sunflower sees, at the best price?
11/30/2014 4:32:05 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@GARY - You can search for one of our stores in your area at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list. Our Bulk department can typically special order a large bag for you and most stores will give you a 10% discount as well!
12/01/2014 4:13:48 PM CST
12/12/2014 7:59:39 AM CST