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Are Sunflower Seeds Good for You?

Sunflower seeds are a delicious snack that may bring back fond memories of watching sporting events with family or friends. Whether a standard part of your present-day diet or not, you may be wondering, are sunflower seeds good for you?

Keep reading to learn about all of the health benefits of eating sunflower seeds, including nutrition facts, vitamins and minerals, and even how to incorporate more sunflower seeds into your diet!

A person holding a handful of sunflower seeds. They're tasty, but are sunflower seeds good for you?

Nutrition Facts of Sunflower Seeds

The USDA’s recommended serving of sunflower seeds is a quarter cup. Sunflower seeds are high in calories; therefore, it’s important to adhere to the recommended serving guidelines! According to the USDA, a quarter cup of dry roasted sunflower seeds with no added salt contains:

  • Calories: 207
  • Fat: 19 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 7 grams
  • Protein: 5.8 grams
  • Fiber: 3.9 grams
A bowl of shelled sunflower seeds.

Vitamins and Minerals

Sunflower seed nutrition covers a wide range of vitamins and minerals that make this little snack a great addition to your diet. Sunflower seeds contain noteworthy levels of Vitamins B1 and B6, iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc, folate, potassium, and copper.

Sunflower seeds also contain exceptionally high levels of Vitamin E and selenium, two valuable components that are often lacking in most diets.

Closeup of a large sunflower head.

Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds have a slightly nutty flavor and are both a delicious and nutritious addition to your meals. The seeds are encased in an inedible shell, also called the hull, that must be removed before eating. The most common way to remove the shell is by placing it into your mouth and gently biting down to crack the shell open, which allows you to easily remove the inner seed and discard the outer shell.

Once the hull is removed, your sunflower seeds are ready to be enjoyed! So what exactly are the benefits of eating sunflower seeds?

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to help heal you from sudden unwanted health occurrences. However, chronic inflammation is an unwanted bodily response that can ultimately lead to cell damage and various diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

High levels of Vitamin E, as well as the presence of flavonoids, are beneficial for reducing inflammation in the body – especially for those who suffer from chronic inflammation! Medical studies have proven that eating sunflower seeds at least five times a week can lead to lower levels of inflammation in the body.

Helps Boost Immune System and Energy

Sunflower seeds contain lots of antioxidants that are great for strengthening the immune system. Protein, Vitamin B, and selenium all help to provide the body with additional energy. Selenium also helps fight the risk of infection and increases your immunity to certain illnesses.

Zinc supports a healthy immune system by helping your body develop and maintain immune system cells that are strong enough to fight off infections.

A green salad with apples and sunflower seeds.

Lowers the Risk of High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease

High blood pressure is one of the leading factors of heart disease. Elevated blood pressure can also lead to the brain receiving an insufficient amount of blood and oxygen due to arteries becoming blocked.

One of the many health benefits of sunflower seeds is that there are multiple factors that contribute to lowering high blood pressure, such as the presence of magnesium and polyunsaturated fats.

Sunflower seeds are also rich in selenium, a mineral that helps increase blood flow and promotes the flow of oxygen throughout the body, something a person with high blood pressure may struggle with.

Other Benefits of Eating Sunflower Seeds

The presence of magnesium in sunflower seeds not only lowers the risk of high blood pressure but also helps lower blood sugar and therefore decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Sunflower seeds are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – two “good” fats that help reduce bad cholesterol, the risk for stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular disease, as well as provide extra help in lowering high blood pressure and blood sugar.

For women expecting (or hoping!) to have a baby, there may be some additional benefits of eating sunflower seeds. Folate, Vitamin E, and zinc are all beneficial to children, something that is never too early to plan for when it comes to motherhood! Folate is also great for boosting memory and even lowers the risk for certain cancers.

Sunflower seeds also contain high levels of fiber, which is great for aiding digestion and helping you feel fuller for longer periods of time!


Health Risks of Eating Sunflower Seeds

Closeup of a wooden spoon of unshelled sunflower seeds.

So, are sunflower seeds good for you? Yes, definitely! However, as with most things – you can have too much of a good thing. Although there are many health benefits of sunflower seeds, there are a few potential risks to be aware of.

Allergy Risks

Sunflower seed allergies are not common, but they do exist. Symptoms of a sunflower seed allergy may include itching or swelling of the mouth, a skin rash, or even vomiting and anaphylaxis in extreme cases. If you experience something odd while eating sunflower seeds, it’s important to err on the side of caution and take your symptoms seriously!

Additional Risks

Sunflower seeds have a high-calorie content, so it’s essential to stick to the recommended quarter-cup serving size. Don’t focus too much on the calories, just be mindful that (just like with other food!) an excessive intake without proper exercise could eventually cause you to gain weight. Eating the seeds out of the shell can be a good way to slow your caloric intake, due to the time it takes to remove each seed.

By themselves, natural sunflower seeds are low in sodium. However, store-bought seeds tend to be roasted and tossed in salt, which can lead to an unnaturally high sodium content that is not healthy for your body. If you want to avoid excess salt intake, the next time you buy sunflower seeds at the store, look for the bags that specify no salt added!

Sunflower seeds may absorb cadmium from the soil, a heavy metal that may harm kidneys if consumed in excessive amounts. Sticking to the recommended serving size is a great way to eliminate this worry, as you would need to consume over 4x the recommended daily serving to create a major risk of being affected by cadmium!

Sunflower seed nutrition does not include the shell. The shells are not digestible, so take care to remove them altogether when eating sunflower seeds. Any accidental shell fragments swallowed can cause small blockages in your intestine and lead to constipation and discomfort.


Adding Sunflower Seeds to Your Diet

Stirring roasted sunflower seeds.

Roasting the seeds at home is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to incorporate sunflower seeds into your diet. Plus, what’s better than the ability to season and salt your seeds just how you like them? Check out our expert blog post on How to Roast Sunflower Seeds to help you get started!

In addition to roasting the seeds, sunflower seeds may be eaten raw, tossed into trail mix, thrown into salads, used to top yogurt, baked into goods, blended into smoothies, or even finely ground to be used in bread coatings or homemade pesto sauces!

If you need a little inspiration on fun ways to use sunflower seeds in the kitchen, check out these easy recipes below!

Lentil Carrot Avocado Salad

Two-Ingredient Sunflower Seed Crackers

Oil-Free Sunflower Seed Butter


So, Are Sunflower Seeds Good For You?

Person holding a handful of sunflower seeds.

Well, all things considered, are sunflower seeds good for you? Absolutely! The health benefits of sunflower seeds are numerous, and there’s no doubt this delicious snack deserves a spot in your diet. Make sunflower nutrition part of your healthy lifestyle!

Now that you’ve learned all about sunflower seeds, are you curious to know more about the plant they come from? Check out our Sunflowers page on the website to learn about different sunflower varieties, tips and tricks for growing, ways to use the plant, and more!

Getting started on your seed growing journey? Use my seed starting guide to find care guides, helpful tips, product suggestions, and more!