Sunflower Seed

Researched and edited by Roy Berger

 
Introduction

Mother Nature has created a nutritional power pack that is hard to beat in sunflower seeds. Healthy unsaturated fats, protein and fiber, plus important nutrients like vitamin E, selenium, copper, zinc, folate, iron and phytochemicals come wrapped up in this small and perhaps unsuspected package – a sunflower seed.

Nutrition Content

Confection Sunflower Kernel
Nutrient Composition per 1 oz. (28.35 grams)
Calories 160
Calories from fat 129
Total fat 14 g
Saturated fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated fat 9 g
Monounsaturated fat 3 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium < 2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 5 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Sugars 1 g
Protein 6 g
Vitamin A < 3 IU
Vitamin C < 0.2 mg
Calcium 33 mg
Iron 1.9 mg
Vitamin E 11.34 mg
Thiamin .65 mg
Riboflavin .07 mg
Niacin 1.3 mg
Folate 64.5 mcg
Magnesium 104 mg
Zinc 1.4 mg
Copper .4 mg

Nutrition Value

  • Sunflower seeds and oil contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat – the types of fat that may protect the heart. Clinical studies show that higher unsaturated fat diets may be preferable even to low-fat diets because they lower total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, while maintaining beneficial high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is needed to carry the “bad” cholesterol away.(1-2) • Almost 90% of the fat in sunflower seeds is good, unsaturated fat.
  • Protein supplies amino acids, the building blocks that build, maintain and repair body tissues.  Sunflower seeds are a good source of plant protein. 
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease by getting rid of harmful molecules called free radicals that can lead to arterioscleroses. Sunflower seeds are the best whole food source of vitamin E.
  • Selenium works with vitamin E as an antioxidant and protects cells from damage that may lead to cancer, heart disease, and other health problems.
  • Copper helps the body carry oxygen to red blood cells and produce energy in the cells. Copper is also a vital part of some antioxidant enzymes in the body, thus protecting from oxidative stress. While a copper deficiency is rare, this trace mineral is essential to an energy-rich life.
  • Folate, a B vitamin, plays an essential role in making new body cells by helping to form the DNA and RNA that contain each cell’s “master plan” for reproduction. Folate also pairs with vitamin B-12 to help form hemoglobin in red blood cells, which allows them to carry optimal amounts of oxygen. Folate is involved in the removal of homocysteine, an amino acid thought to promote heart disease, from the blood. A large population study from Harvard University shows an association between higher intakes of folate and lower risk of heart disease.
  • Other B vitamins are essential for producing energy from food. Sunflower seeds contain pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, thiamin and niacin.
  • Zinc is a mineral that is vital for keeping your immune system strong, fending off infections and healing wounds.
  • Iron is essential in carrying oxygen from the lungs, through the blood, and to every body cell.
  • Fiber – the indigestible part of plant foods – promotes good health by helping to lower blood cholesterol, manage blood glucose and prevent constipation.

Conclusion

The value of sunflower seed as part of a healthy diet for parrots has been recognized by aviculturist for a long time. Almost every manufacturer of a parrot mix includes sunflower.

As in any other food, moderation is the key. Flying and breeding parrots require considerable amount of energy therefore the percentage of sunflower in a varied diet can be increased. Naturally, for less active parrots the percentage should be reduced. 

Sunflower seeds are a high energy food source for your birds.

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