In Rwanda, sunflower seeds can be found in some supermarkets and nutritional centres, including Amazon Nutrition Cabinet, a Kigali-based health clinic in Remera where a kilogramme goes for Rwf 2,500.
Sunflower seeds are high in protein and rich in healthy fats, as well as antioxidants that can lower your risk of developing serious conditions. They are also an excellent source of vitamin E.
Studies link the consumption of sunflower seeds to a number of health benefits, including lowering risk of developing diseases like high blood pressure or heart disease. They also contain nutrients that can support the immune system and boost energy levels.
For people with short-term or chronic inflammation, sunflower seeds offer anti-inflammatory benefits. They contain vitamin E, flavonoids, and other plant compounds that can reduce inflammation.
Studies also show that consuming sunflower seeds and other seeds five times or more each week can help in lowering levels of inflammation, which also lower the risk factors for several chronic diseases.
Improving heart health
Sunflower seeds are rich in healthy fats, including polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat.
For instance, a three quarter cup serving of sunflower seeds contains 14 grams of fat. Different research indicates that consumption of seeds, including sunflower seeds, has been linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Supporting the immune system
Sunflower seeds are a source of many vitamins and minerals that can support the immune system and increase ability to fight off viruses. These include zinc and selenium. Zinc plays a vital role in the immune system, helping the body maintain and develop immune cells.
Selenium also plays a role in reducing inflammation, fighting infection, and boosting immunity.
Boosting energy levels
While the high levels of protein in sunflower seeds already help boost energy levels, other nutrients like vitamin B and selenium can help keep you energised.
The vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) present in sunflower seeds can help you convert food to energy, which can keep you active throughout the day. Selenium can increase blood flow and deliver more oxygen to your body.
Meanwhile, nutritionists point out that while sunflower seeds are rich in nutrients, they’re also relatively high in calories.
For this reason, it’s advisable to keep servings to a quarter cup at a time. In order to slow the caloric intake while snacking, one can eat the seeds in the shell, as it takes time to crack open and spit out each shell.