These tasty seeds are an excellent source of vitamins E, B1, B3 and B6 as well as folic acid, copper, selenium, phosphorus and magnesium. Vitamin E neutralises free radicals that would otherwise damage cell membranes. It is thought to help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Vitamin E has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, menopausal symptoms and diabetic complications.
Sow seeds directly in late spring or summer in a sunny, free-draining spot. Choose a variety bred specifically for harvesting, such as ‘Golden Toasted’ (Kings Seeds), which produces large single heads with big, nutritious seeds.
As soon as the petals start to fade, cover the flower head with a pillowcase or something similar so the seeds can ripen fully protected from hungry birds.
When fully ripe, the seeds will be dark and swollen and the seed head brown. Flex the seed head to remove the seeds. The hard part is getting the seeds out of the husks, which have to be individually cracked. Try using pliers!