Are Sunflower Seeds Good for You? Nutrition, Benefits and More

Sunflower seeds

People frequently eat sunflower seeds straight from the container or as a snacking ingredient in nutrition bars and trail mix.

Below is detailed information on sunflower seeds, including their nutritional value, health benefits, and proper preparation.

What Are Sunflower Seeds?

The flowers of the sunflower plant (Helianthus annuus) produce seeds.

The plant uses its large flower heads, which can measure more than 12 inches (30.5 cm) across, to collect the seeds. The head of a single sunflower has the potential to hold as many as 2,000 seeds.

In general, there are two main kinds of sunflower crops. Farmers grow one kind for its seeds, while most farms grow the other kind for its oil.

The sunflower seeds you eat have black-and-white striped shells around them that you can’t eat. These shells are called hulls. They utilize their solid black bodies to extract sunflower oil.

Sunflower seeds have a mild and nutty taste, and they are hard but soft. You can purchase them raw, but most people roast them to enhance their flavor.

Nutritional Value

Sunflower seeds are very healthy, even though they are small.

For your reference, 1 ounce (30 grams or 1/4 cup) of dry-roasted sunflower seeds with their shells on has a high

Total Fat14g
– Saturated Fat1.5g
– Polyunsaturated Fat9.2g
– Monounsaturated Fat2.7g
Vitamin E37% of the RDI
Niacin10% of the RDI
Vitamin B611% of the RDI
Folate17% of the RDI
Pantothenic Acid20% of the RDI
Iron6% of the RDI
Magnesium9% of the RDI
Zinc10% of the RDI
Copper26% of the RDI
Manganese30% of the RDI
Selenium32% of the RDI

There is a lot of vitamin E and selenium in sunflower seeds. These antioxidants shield your cells from the harmful impacts of free radicals, which are associated with several chronic ailments.

Furthermore, sunflower seeds contain many helpful plant chemicals, such as phenolic acids and flavonoids, which also work as antioxidants.

When sunflower seeds grow, their plant chemicals become stronger. Additionally, sprouting reduces the presence of substances that hinder the absorption of minerals. You can buy dried sunflower seeds that have sprouted online or in a few shops.

Health benefits of sunflower seeds.

It is possible that sunflower seeds can lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol because they have magnesium, protein, linoleic fatty acids, and other plant chemicals in them.

In addition, studies have linked sunflower seeds to a number of other health benefits.


Short-term inflammation is a normal immune reaction, but long-term inflammation can lead to many long-term diseases.

For instance, a higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes is associated with higher levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein in your blood.

A study of over 6,000 adults found that people who said they ate sunflower seeds and other seeds at least five times a week had 32% lower amounts of C-reactive protein than people who said they never ate kernels.

Sunflower seeds have a lot of vitamin E, which is known to help lower C-reactive protein levels. However, this type of study can’t show cause and effect. Well-Known Source.

Sunflower seeds contain flavonoids and various plant compounds that help to prevent swelling.

Heart Disease

High blood pressure is more likely to cause heart disease. Heart disease can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Sunflower seeds contain a chemical that inhibits an enzyme that causes blood vessels to narrow. So, it might help your blood vessels loosen up, which could lower your blood pressure. Sunflower seeds have magnesium in them, which also helps lower blood pressure.

Sunflower seeds also have a lot of unsaturated fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. Linoleic acid helps your body make a hormone-like substance that makes blood vessels relax, which lowers blood pressure. Not only that, but this fatty acid also lowers cholesterol.

One study looked at women with type 2 diabetes who ate 30 grams (1 ounce) of sunflower seeds every day as part of a healthy diet. Their systolic blood pressure (the top number on a reading) dropped by 5%.

The participants also saw a 9% reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol and a 12% reduction in triglycerides.

A review of 13 studies also found that people who got the most linoleic acid had a 15% lower risk of heart disease events like heart attacks and a 21% lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who got the least.


A few studies have looked at how sunflower seeds might help people with type 2 diabetes and high blood sugar. Although the results appear promising, further research is necessary.

For six months, people who eat 1 ounce (30 grams) of sunflower seeds every day may see their fasting blood sugar drop by about 10% compared to people who only eat healthy foods.

Sunflower seeds may help lower blood sugar, in part because they contain chlorogenic acid, a plant ingredient.

Studies also show that adding sunflower seeds to foods like bread may help lower the effect that carbs have on your blood sugar. The seeds’ protein and fat slow down the rate at which your stomach empties. This allows the carbohydrates’ sugar to come out more slowly.

Potential Downsides

Sunflower seeds are good for you, but they also have a few bad effects.

Calories and Sodium

Sunflower seeds have a lot of good nutrients, but they also have a lot of calories.

You can eat fewer calories and eat more slowly when you snack by eating the seeds in their shells. This is because cracking open and spitting out each shell takes time.

But if you’re trying to cut down on salt, keep in mind that the shells, which people often eat before cracking them open, have more than 2,500 mg of sodium per 1/4 cup (30 grams), which is 108% of the RDI.

It might be unclear how much sodium is in the food if the label only provides nutrition information for the edible portion (the kernels inside the shells). Some brands have versions with less salt.


The cadmium in sunflower seeds is another reason to eat them in moderation. Long-term exposure to large amounts of this heavy metal can harm your kidneys.

Sunflowers tend to get cadmium from the ground and store it in their seeds, which is why they have a bit more of it than most other foods.

The WHO recommends exposing a 154-pound (70-kg) adult to no more than 490 milligrams (mcg) of cadmium per week.

On average, people who ate 255 grams (9 ounces) of sunflower seeds every week for a year got about 65 micrograms more cadmium. Still, this much didn’t cause their blood cadmium levels to rise or harm their kidneys.

So, it’s fine to eat a fair amount of sunflower seeds each day, like 30 grams (1 ounce), but you shouldn’t eat a whole bag in one day.

Sprouted Seeds

Sprouting is becoming a more popular way to get seeds ready. Salmonella, a dangerous bacteria, can sometimes get into seeds. These bacteria can grow quickly in warm, damp sprouting conditions.

When it comes to raw sprouted sunflower seeds, this is especially important because they may not have been cooked above 118 °C (48 °F).

Drying sunflower seeds at higher temperatures can kill bad germs. One study discovered that drying partially opened sunflower seeds at temperatures above 122 °C (50 °C) reduced the amount of Salmonella present by a significant amount.

If products contain bacteria, the market may remove them, as was the case with raw, sprouted sunflower seeds. You should never eat recalled foods.

Stool Blockages

Both children and adults may experience fecal impaction, or their stools becoming stuck, when they consume large amounts of sunflower seeds at once.

If you eat sunflower seeds in their shell, you might eat shell pieces that your body can’t digest, which can make you more likely to have fecal impaction.

If you experience an impaction, you may be unable to access the bathroom. You might need to remove the blockage while you’re asleep.

You may be constipated because of the fecal impaction, but you may also leak wet stool around the blockage and feel sick to your stomach, among other things.


There have been some reports of people being allergic to sunflower seeds, but they are not very common. Respiratory problems, hay fever, skin rashes, sores, vomiting, and allergies are some of the reactions that can happen.

Different proteins in the seeds cause allergies. Raw, ground sunflower seeds used to make sunflower seed butter can be just as allergenic as whole sunflower seeds.

It is much less likely that refined sunflower oil will contain enough allergenic proteins, but very sensitive people have had reactions to very small amounts of oil in the past.

People who work with sunflower plants or seeds all the time, like sunflower farmers and bird trainers, are more likely to be allergic to sunflower seeds.

If you feed your birds sunflower seeds at home, these allergens can get into the air and make you sick. If their skin gets injured, soy proteins can make young children sensitive to sunflower seeds.

Some people have developed allergies to touching sunflower seeds, like when they are making yeast bread with sunflower seeds, which can cause reactions like red, itchy hands.

The Bottom Line

The seeds of sunflowers are a delicious addition to a wide variety of cuisines, as well as a snack that is nutty and crunchy. The numerous nutrients and plant components that they contain have the potential to aid in the fight against inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Nevertheless, they are high in calories and, if consumed in excessive quantities, may result in unwelcome side effects.

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