Sunflowers in Fargo, North Dakota

The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant in the daisy family (Asteraceae) and native to the Americas, with a large flowering head. The stem can grow as high as 3 meters (10 ft), and the flower head can reach 30 cm (11.8 in) in diameter with the "large" seeds.

Sunflower "whole seed" (fruit) are sold as a snack food, after roasting in ovens, with or without salt added. Sunflowers can be processed into a peanut butter alternative, Sunbutter, especially in China, Russia, the United States, the Middle East and Europe. In Germany, it is mixed together with rye flour to make Sonnenblumenkernbrot (literally: sunflower whole seed bread).

Sunflower oil, extracted from the seeds, is used for cooking, as a carrier oil and to produce margarine, as it is cheaper than olive oil. A range of sunflower varieties exist with differing fatty acid compositions; some 'high oleic' types contain a higher level of healthy monounsaturated fats in their oil than even olive oil.

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