This favourite Spanish snack leads to less stress and more happiness

by Lorraine Williamson
Spanish snack

Sunflower seeds remain the favourite snack of Spaniards all year round. This is the main conclusion of the study ‘Consumption of sunflower seeds in Spain in 2021’. The research was carried out for The National Sunflower Association, also known as Pipas USA in Spain.  

Originally, sunflower seeds come from Mexico and Peru. Indians have eaten them for more than 5000 years. In the 16th century, the Spanish introduced the seeds to Europe. 

‘The consumption of sunflower seeds in Spain is part of a tradition that combines pleasure and social behaviour. And ultimately creates a very special bond between consumers and their moments of happiness,’ says Pipas USA director, John Sandbakken. 

Spanish snack preferences 

Salted kernels are the favourite (57.7%), whether with brine (29%) or natural with salt (28.7%). Roasted kernels come in third (17.1%). The Spaniards, and especially the young ones, consider the taste of sunflower seeds the most important in their choice (74.2%). This is followed by the price (41.7%). The size of the kernel is of particular importance for those over 40 (39.1%). 79.7% of the Spanish population prefer eating sunflower seeds with their skin on, while 23.2% preferring the skin off. 

Advantages and nutritional properties  

According to the ‘Spanish Food Book’, published by the Spanish Food Federation (FEN) together with the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, ‘sunflower seeds are rich in fats and a source of minerals and vitamins. A handful of the seeds, about 35 grams, contains 203 kcal’.

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The most important nutrients are polyunsaturated fats. A 100 gram portion contains 22 grams and the proportion of carbohydrates and fibre is 20% and 3% respectively. The kernels are also rich in nutrients and a source of minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, iron, zinc, and potassium. In addition, this Spanish snack also contains vitamins such as vitamin E, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B3 (niacin).

Due to their composition, the Spanish snack stimulates antioxidants and nourishes the nervous system. In other words, they help to combat stress. Not only does vitamin E have an antioxidant effect, but other components such as choline, betaine, lignans, and phenolic acids also have this property.

You would almost think that sunflower seeds, being so small, could not have more benefits. But nothing could be further from the truth! Because this tiny seed, like many nuts, also has a high calcium content (120 milligrams per 100 grams). 

According to healthifyme.com, sunflower seeds can regulate blood pressure and improve heart health. They are energy boosters and build robust immune systems. Furthermore, they improve your overall wellbeing.

Sunflower seeds have become a health staple in the recent past. In addition to that, it makes it a perfect snack for weight loss. High in fat and calorie-dense, they are a good aid for weight loss because these seeds contain protein, healthy fats, and fibre. In addition, they have a range of essential minerals and vitamins.

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