Sunflower seeds contain minimal saturated fat and no cholesterol, and they provide several important nutrients, including folate, protein and a small amount of iron. Sunflower seeds do not contain as much iron as animal-based iron sources or some plant-based iron sources such as legumes or fortified cereals, but they can help you fulfill your daily iron needs and prevent iron deficiency anemia. Iron plays an essential role in the transport of oxygen in the blood. Symptoms of iron deficiency include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and decreased immunity.
Iron in Sunflower Seeds
A 1/4-cup serving of sunflower seeds dry roasted with salt contains 1.22 mg of iron, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. A 1 oz serving of sunflower seeds dry roasted with salt contains 1.08 mg of iron.
Percentage of Recommended Daily Intake
Iron needs vary according to age and gender. Teenage girls and women of childbearing age should consume more iron per day because they lose iron during menstruation. Children ages 1 to 3 need 7 mg of iron per day, children ages 4 to 8 need 10 mg of iron per day and children ages 9 to 13 need 8 mg per day. Boys ages 14 to 17 need 11 mg per day, while girls ages 14 to 17 need 15 mg per day. Men ages 19 and over and women ages 51 and over need only 8 mg of iron per day, while women ages 19 to 50 need 18 mg per day. For many people, 1 oz serving of sunflower seeds provides a significant percentage of their daily iron needs. For children ages 9 to 13, men ages 19 and over and women ages 51 and over, a 1 oz serving of sunflower seeds provides 13.5 percent of daily iron needs.
Animal-based iron sources such as liver, beef, oysters, fish and egg yolks provide heme iron, a type of iron that the body absorbs easily. Plant-based iron sources, such as sunflower seeds, contain nonheme iron, which the body absorbs less easily. Consuming animal-based proteins or foods rich in vitamin C along with nonheme iron sources can improve the body’s absorption of the nonheme iron.
A 1 oz serving of sunflower seeds contains 165 calories, including 127 calories from fat, and 14.1 g of fat, including only 1.5 g of saturated fat. This serving also contains 6.8 g of carbohydrates, including 2.6 g of dietary fiber and 0.8 g sugar, and provides 5.5 g protein, 2 percent of your recommended daily calcium intake and 11 percent of your recommended daily folate intake.