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A Nutritionist Shares Three Delicious Reasons to Eat Sunflower Seeds
“I don’t have food allergies, but I have clients who do. And I need to be eating Vitamin E-rich foods. Guess what? Sunflower seeds are the richest source!” That’s our friend Sarah, nutritionist and founder of Eat 2 Run Sports Nutrition. Always in training for her next marathon, she runs 60 – 70 miles each week around her home in Vancouver, B.C., and helps clients find the right fuel for their own training programs (training for simply living life counts too!).
Sarah breaks down the benefits of sunflower seeds, and shares her recipes for SunButter Fudge Cookies and SunButter Pumpkin Mini Muffins, which are free of peanuts, tree nuts and gluten, too. Cookies? From a marathoner? We’re all in! Thanks, Sarah.
I was first introduced to SunButter when searching for an alternative to nut butters for a client. Initially I figured it was a great option to have in my back pocket for those with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and gluten sensitivities. I also recalled that sunflower seeds are quite nutritious, so I did a little further research. Indeed, it turns out they have more to offer us than I’d originally anticipated. I now recommend SunButter to everyone! Here’s why:
1. Excellent Source of Vitamin E (potent antioxidant)
I don’t have food allergies myself, but I’ve pinpointed a few sensitivities such as dairy and gluten. Despite this, I reach for SunButter regularly simply due to its amazing nutrient profile. For example, it’s an excellent source of vitamin E, which is incredibly important as it has the ability to disarm free radicals. This mechanism protects our cells from the damage that would otherwise occur (such as aging, slow healing, lowered immune system and chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer).
For the record, free radicals come to us through processed foods (including many common cooking oils), chemicals, drugs (recreational and prescription), stress (both emotional and physical), air pollution and exhaust, cigarette smoke, and radiation (X-rays, UV rays). Faced with the impossibility of avoiding all sources of free radicals, our most favourable solution is to increase our intake of antioxidants in order to help disarm the free radicals: and vitamin E is one of the most potent.
|Source||Serving size||Amount of Vitamin E (as %DV)|
|Sunflower Seeds||¼ cup||82%|
|SunButter||2 Tbsp (32g)||49%|
|Almond Butter||2 Tbsp (32g)||51%|
|Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained||1 cup||25%|
|Spinach, raw||1 cup||4%|
|Avocado||½ of the avocado||14%|
2. Lots of Vitamin B1 (converts carbohydrates and fats to energy)
The majority of my clients come to me with energy complaints. While many factors contribute to fatigue, eating both nutrient-dense foods as well as adequate food sources of B-vitamins can help by converting the food we eat into actual energy (B-vitamins help our bodies to handle stress better, too).
Luckily, sunflower seeds contain 47% daily value for B1 (per ¼ cup). Many foods are good sources of B1 but sunflower seeds rank among the top five (the others are asparagus, green peas, flax seeds and Brussels sprouts).
3. Great Source of Magnesium
I work with athletes who are constantly putting themselves through hard workouts. In order to help relax their muscles afterwards it’s beneficial to choose foods rich in magnesium, a muscle relaxant. Magnesium can also help those who have sleep trouble: it helps them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Sunflower seeds offer us 28% DV (per ¼ cup) and rank among the 10 best sources (which also include pumpkin seeds, spinach, tofu, quinoa, sesame seeds and black beans).
You can see now why I’ve chosen to incorporate sunflower seeds and SunButter into my own daily nutritional habits as well as my clients. To get your daily dose of sunflower seeds, of course you can eat SunButter by the spoonful, spread it on your toast or dip your apple slices into it, but if you want to get a little more creative then try adding SunButter to your cookies and muffins, such as these Chocolate Fudge Cookies or Pumpkin Mini Muffins.
SunButter Chocolate Fudge Cookies
These are free of peanuts, tree nuts, gluten and are vegan! Makes 24 cookies.
1½ c. mashed banana
1 c. instant rolled oats
1 c. ground oats (oat flour)
¼ c. SunButter
¼ c. coconut oil, melted
¼ c. raw cacao powder
¼ c. coconut flakes
¼ c. maple syrup
¼ c. nut-free dark chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips)
1 tsp. sea salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl beat together all the ingredients. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the lined baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes. Store in refrigerator (they freeze well also).
SunButter Pumpkin Mini Muffins
These are free of peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, dairy and grains.
2 eggs, beaten
½ c. pumpkin puree
½ c. SunButter
½ c. coconut oil, melted
1/3 c. maple syrup
2-3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. coconut flour
¼ c. nut-free chocolate chips or dried cranberries (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line two mini muffin tins with 24 mini paper muffin cups. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, SunButter, oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Beat well. Fold in the baking powder and coconut flour. Add the chocolate chips or dried cranberries if desired. Divide between the 24 mini muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely.
Catch up with Sarah for more nutrition tips and delicious recipes!