Can you eat sunflower seeds?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat sunflower seeds?” and discuss what are the risks and benefits related to the consumption of sunflower seeds.

Can you eat sunflower seeds?

Yes, you can eat sunflower seeds. You may consume the seeds raw, roasted, or integrate them into other foods. 

The regular consumption of sunflower seeds may help prevent ailments including high blood pressure and heart disease, according to studies. As a source of zinc, they are beneficial to the immune system (1).

What are the health benefits of eating sunflower seeds?

The health benefits of eating sunflower seeds are their nutrients and their properties. Sunflower seeds are a source of lipids, which serves as the main energy food with 9.3 calories/g in the living cells.

Sunflower seeds provide a number of health advantages, some of which are listed below:

Decreases Inflammation

Sunflower seeds provide anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E, flavonoids, and other plant components found in sunflower seeds have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Sunflower oil is an excellent source of vitamin E /tocopherol which neutralizes free radicals, scavenges them and prevents oxidative damage to cellular and molecular components exhibiting anti inflammatory, cardio protective and anti tumor action. 

Due to anti-inflammatory action of tocopherols, sunflower seeds seem to have a promising role to play in chronic inflammatory conditions like bronchial asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (2).

Enhances Cardiovascular Health

Polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat are both abundant in sunflower seeds. The ingestion of unsaturated fatty acids has been related to decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease and other risk factors including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. 

In addition, sunflower seeds contain substantial amounts of magnesium, which is related to a reduced risk of high blood pressure (2).

Improves immune system

Zinc and selenium are two minerals present in sunflower seeds. Both are important by assisting the immune system. Besides lowering inflammation, selenium also aids in the fight against infection and improves immunity. 

In addition, sunflower seeds also provide phytosterols and antioxidants, which are also important for the immune system (1).

Provides amino-acids

Sunflower seeds contain protein, including the sulfur-containing amino acids (cysteine and methionine) and other essential amino acids like leucine, valine, isoleucine, tryptophan, alanine, phenylalanine, and valine (1). 

Proteins are required for the synthesis of body protein and other important nitrogen-containing compounds, such as creatine, peptide hormones, and some neurotransmitters (4).

What are the risks of eating sunflower seeds?

The risk of eating sunflower seeds is the possible presence of mycotoxins in the seeds and possible allergic reactions in the case of allergy to sunflower seeds. 

Sunflower seeds contain allergens. Allergic reactions of people consuming foods containing sunflower seeds may occur after baking and cooking, as these allergens are thermal resistant. 

Symptoms of an allergic reaction to sunflower include oral allergy syndrome, bronchial asthma, allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, angioedema, contact dermatitis, and skin lesions of an acute urticaria (8).

In addition  to allergy, sunflower seeds may cause intoxication. Studies showed that sunflower seeds may be contaminated with toxins produced by Aspergillus and Penicillium, two fungal species able to cause major losses to grains and seeds (7). 

Regular ingestion of aflatoxins (toxins produced by Aspergillus) are related to increased risks of developing liver cancer, kidney, liver and immune system diseases. In addition, it may lead to birth defects. The ingestion of toxins produced by Penicillium may cause nausea, vomiting, and possibly damage the DNA in some body cells.  

Can you eat sunflower seeds on a diet?

Yes, you can eat sunflower seeds on a diet. Despite the increased amount of calories in sunflower seeds, they are considered healthy and their ingestion is sustained. 

In a low‑carbohydrate diet, the intake of complex carbohydrates from oilseeds, such as sunflower seed is recommended (9). 

During a low‑fat diet, the ingestion of saturated fat, trans fat (partially hydrogenated fat), and fried products should be avoided and the intake of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids should be encouraged. Sunflower seeds are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic acid and linoleic acid.

In addition, due to its high amounts in fibers, it is ideal to compose a weight reduction diet, as high fiber intake contributes to satiation and weight loss.

What is the healthiest method to consume sunflower seeds?

The healthiest method to consume sunflower seeds is to eat them roasted using a microwave oven. Sunflower seeds may be eaten raw or dry roasted. 

However, a study showed that microwave roasting of peanut seeds increased their amount of vitamin E. According to results, the tissues were damaged due to the heating, and this caused rapid release of tocopherol. The fatty acid compositions of sunflower oil did not change with the roasting time (5).


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat sunflower seed?” and we discussed what are the risks and benefits related to the consumption of sunflower seeds.


  1. Adeleke, Bartholomew Saanu, and Olubukola Oluranti Babalola. Oilseed crop sunflower (Helianthus annuus) as a source of food: Nutritional and health benefits. Food Sci Nutr, 2020, 8, 4666-4684.
  2. Nandha, Ruchika, et al. Therapeutic potential of sunflower seeds: An overview. Int J Res Develop Pharma Life Sci, 2014, 3, 967-972.
  3. Ramsey, Drew, and Philip R. Muskin. Vitamin deficiencies and mental health: How are they linked. Curr Psych, 2013, 12, 37-43.
  4. Protein and Amino Acids. National Research Council Subcommittee on the Tenth Edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances. Washington DC. National Academies Press, 1989. 6.
  5. Mohammed, Khalid, et al. Effects of microwave roasting process and time on chemical composition and oxidative stability of sunflower oil. J. Food Nutr. Res, 2017, 5, 659-667.
  6. Barsby, Jacqueline P., et al. Nutritional properties of selected superfood extracts and their potential health benefits. Peer, 2021, J 9, e12525.
  7. Abdel-Mallek, A. Y., S. S. M. El-Maraghy, and H. A. H. Hasan. Mycotoxin-producing potential of some Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium isolates found on corn grains and sunflower seeds in Egypt. J Islamic Acad Sci, 1993, 6, 189-192.
  8. Ukleja-Sokołowska, Natalia, et al. Sunflower seed allergy. Int j immunopath pharmacol, 2016, 29, 498-503.
  9. Chopra, Sakshi, et al. Lifestyle-related advice in the management of obesity: a step-wise approach. J edu health prom, 2020, 9.