Peanuts and sunflower seeds are both popular American snacks. Both are commonly found at baseball games; fans consume peanuts in the stands and sunflower seeds remain the choice of players on the field. The foods have elements in common and some significant differences.
The peanut grows to its final size underground. Its weight causes it to bend towards the ground and then burrow underground to complete the growth process. Sunflower seeds grow above ground at the centers of sunflowers.
Its name indicates that the peanut is a nut, but that is not the case. The peanut is part of the legume family, along with peas, lentils and chickpeas.
Both sunflower seeds and peanuts offer certain health benefits. The oil content in sunflower seeds is polyunsaturated oil, and they are high in vitamin E. Sunflower seeds are believed to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body and help reduce the body's cholesterol level. Peanuts have a higher oil content and contain monounsaturated fats, but are generally considered to be a heart-healthy snack.
Sunbutter is a peanut butter substitute made with sunflower seeds. Because it is not a legume, like the peanut, people who have peanut allergies can safely eat sunflower seeds.