Sunflowers are native to the Americas, although they were introduced to Europe in the 1700's due to their many uses for food, from sunflower seeds to sunflower oil. Their stalks can be used as cattle feed. While the head of a sunflower is typically called a flower, it is actually a flower head or composite flower made up of many florets crowded together. The outer petal-bearing florets are sterile ray florets. The florets inside the head are called disc florets, and these mature into seeds.
There are many uses for sunflowers as food, the most obvious being the American pastime of eating the seeds as a snack. Sunflower oil can be extracted from the seeds and is popularly used in products such as margarine. Many varieties of sunflower oil contain more monounsaturated fats than olive oil. Some people even process sunflower seeds into an alternative to peanut butter, known (unsurprisingly) as sunflower butter.
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