5 Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

A cup of sunflower seeds overflowing. Sunflower seeds promote cardiovascular health and promote healthy cholesterol levels.Sunflower seeds — great at the ballpark, helpful during a long drive, and a native plant to North America that has become a staple to cultures worldwide. Despite their small size, sunflower seeds are a dense source of vitamins and minerals and essential oils. Not only are they a great snack, sunflower seeds offer several extraordinary health benefits.

1. Promotes Cardiovascular Health

Sunflower seeds contain two nutrients that promote cardiovascular health — vitamin E and folate.

A quarter cup serving of sunflower seeds contains over 60% of the daily value of vitamin E. This essential vitamin performs important antioxidant function and balanced levels of vitamin E have been linked to a lower overall reduced risk of early death from cardiovascular disease.[1] Vitamin E helps neutralize free radicals to protect brain health and cell membranes against redness and swelling. Make no mistake about the benefits of vitamin E, it has been linked to protection from more than one serious health risk.[2]

Additionally, folate has been shown to promote cardiovascular health from birth to old age. It metabolizes homocysteine, an indicator of cardiovascular problems, into methionine, an essential amino acid. Folate and essential fatty acids naturally occur in sunflower seeds and have been associated with cardiovascular health.[3]

2. Phytosterols Promote Healthy Cholesterol Levels

Sunflower seeds contain a high level of phytosterols. These phytosterols have physical properties similar to cholesterol; more than once, research has linked them to supporting healthy cholesterol levels.[4, 5]

3. Potent Source of Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency can lead to a variety of health problems that affect the cardiovascular, nervous, and immune systems. The muscles and skeletal system also require magnesium for proper function. Homeopathic practitioners have long used magnesium to promote respiratory function, heart health, and reduced PMS tension.

And a quarter cup serving of sunflower seeds provides more than 25% of the recommended daily value of magnesium. That’s protection for your brain, heart, muscles and more!

4. Supports a Healthy Mood

There’s an added bonus to the magnesium in sunflower seeds, it promotes a healthy mood. Over one hundred years ago, magnesium sulfate was given to patients suffering from depression. Its success, as well as its safety, made it a valuable option. Today magnesium plays an essential role in homeopathic therapies for mental health.[6]

5. Contains Selenium: A Powerful Antioxidant and Great for Thyroid Health

Sunflower seeds contain selenium, an essential nutrient. Studies have found it plays a role in antioxidant function and helps reduce redness and swelling in the body. It also has recently been identified for its critical role in thyroid hormone metabolism.[7] Selenium has also been noted for its ability to encourage DNA repair in damaged cells.[8, 9]

The Best Way to Eat Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are a great snack but it’s important to keep it healthy. Many of the available-everywhere varieties are roasted and loaded with high-sodium flavorings. They’re also probably not organic or GMO-free — two things you want to look for. I’d also recommend you give sunflower butter a try, similar to peanut butter, it’s available in some grocery stores, it’s not hard to make, and it’s delicious.

Do you snack on sunflower seeds? What’s your favorite way to eat them? Leave a comment below and share it with us!

References (9)
  1. Goyal A, Terry MB, Siegel AB. Serum Antioxidant Nutrients, Vitamin A, and Mortality in US Adults. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Aug 8.
  2. Cardenas E, Ghosh R. Vitamin E: A dark horse at the crossroad of cancer management. Biochem Pharmacol. 2013 Aug 3. pii: S0006-2952(13)00454-1. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2013.07.018.
  3. McNulty H, Pentieva K, Hoey L, Strain J, Ward M. Nutrition throughout life: folate. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2012 Oct;82(5):348-54. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000130.
  4. Phillips KM, Ruggio DM, Ashraf-Khorassani M. Phytosterol composition of nuts and seeds commonly consumed in the United States. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 30;53(24):9436-45.
  5. Silbernagel G, Genser B, Nestel P, März W. Plant sterols and atherosclerosis. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2013 Feb;24(1):12-7. doi: 10.1097/MOL.0b013e32835b6271.
  6. Serefko A, Szopa A, Wla P, Nowak G, Radziwo-Zaleska M, Skalski M, Poleszak E. Magnesium in depression. Pharmacol Rep. 2013;65(3):547-54.
  7. Hawkes WC, Richter D, Alkan Z. Dietary Selenium Supplementation and Whole Blood Gene Expression in Healthy North American Men. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2013 Aug 18.
  8. Alatise OI, Babalola OO, Omoniyi-Esan GO, Lawal OO, Adesunkanmi AR, Agbakwuru EA. Selenium levels in neoplastic breast lesions. Niger Postgrad Med J. 2013 Jun;20(2):91-7.
  9. Zeng GQ, Yi H, Zhang PF, Li XH, Hu R, Li MY, Li C, Qu JQ, Deng X, Xiao ZQ. The Function and Significance of SELENBP1 Downregulation in Human Bronchial Epithelial Carcinogenic Process. PLoS One. 2013 Aug 19;8(8):e71865. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071865.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

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  • Bill Sanders

    I didn’t know one could EAT sunflower (or pumpkin) seeds. I only see ballplayers chewing and spitting them out. I figured they liked the saly flavor and it helped dissipate nervous energy.

  • Sunbaked Pinay

    I love eating sunflower seeds. It keeps me away from chips and other unhealthy snacks.

  • Kersaafir

    I eat them daily with non-fat Greek yogurt and blueberries. It is also a great snack.

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  • Vimi Anand Kochar

    Hi !! I eat every day salted n roasted !! Get them from abroad but in India I dun get wid shells can u pls suggest where can I buy

  • Kim Araus

    I love them, I purchase the low sodium ones
    They also help curb my appetite
    There AWESOME!????

  • Kathleen Hughes

    I googled…’benefits of eating sunflower seeds’. That’s how I am here writing…while eating spoonfuls of the seeds! I like them organic, raw, unsalted. Also i eat them in yogurt and add them to salads too. Sooo happy to read about benefits of eating sunflower seeds! Thank you for the information.

  • Kathleen

    They’re spitting out the shells!

  • Hosea Johnson

    I ground them into flour and have made brownies and cakes from them today I am going to make a pancake mix with them, looking for tips on this site.

  • Ana Osoria

    I buy the ones from the store. The original roasted n salty is it bad for me? I eat them all the time n usually the organic non shells cost way to much as for this was only like a dollar or two

  • Jm Doyle

    You didn’t know that you could eat sunflower seeds.that’s a lie.

  • Jm Doyle

    I like the low sodium ones my self.I will take six of the (always has to be an even number).some ppl I know will crack one in their mouth and start chewing,but fo me I’ll crack all six and then chew them all at once.

  • Jm Doyle

    They can also be very distracting and can leave you at the end of the day with little or no work done.I own a mechanic shop in Jasper Al, and get very distracted eating them.I will eventually have to out then down and get to work. Lol…

  • ზეცას მიშტერებული

    in my country, georgia, we’re used to sunflower seeds , we always buy raw and roast them at home,

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  • tgrjo

    I love them roasted – I get them organic and then roast them in a pan for a few minutes and keep them in a glass container for easy snacking.

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  • Larry

    I just tried to SunButter and I love it but here’s my question I heard that eating sunflower seeds is bad for the liver. I also know that giving sunflower seeds to your Quaker parrot causes fatty liver the same problem I have so I was wondering if somebody can comment on that? Is it safe to eat SunButter? If you have this liver problem

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  • BlurryFace

    yogurt mixed in with sunflower seeds keeps my energy up 😉 I usually don’t have time in the morning to cook a breakfast and sometimes I don’t get to lunch but my yogurt and sunflower seed combo helps and in between I will crunch a few almonds and some pumpkin seeds

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  • Karen Sweeney

    I love and enjoy them right from the shell- cracking them passes time and before you know, Ive eaten a bunch!!

  • Dream Weaver

    I love them as a salad topping!

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  • Nancy

    I like sunflower seeds in salads..vegetable and fruit.

  • Lisa Torelli

    When talking about quantities of sunflower seeds (example-1/4 cup) do you mean in the shell or without shell? I’ve been buying them without the shell.

  • Donna Desormeaux

    I eat them as a snack and to hold me over until lunch. I love them. I buy them shelled with no salt. Much healthier. It is part of my healthy eating regimen.

  • SoHo4life

    I didn’t either until I was about 20… LOL! This is my first time telling anyone.

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  • Dale Parkinson

    I love the idea of grinding them into flour as a white flour substitute! Thank you for sharing this with me!!!❤️

  • Dale Parkinson


  • Lara

    We, Russians, can’t live without them..It’s a part of our culture – to eat shelled roasted sunflower seeds all the time – after dinner, before dinner, at leisure time, during a social conversation, watching TV, etc. We eat tons of them and all the time. We have old grandmas selling roasted sunflower seeds in big sacks in open marketplaces, so we can come up, taste how it was roasted and buy some and put them in our pockets to eat them while walking and shopping. It is normal to ask someone for sunflower seeds if you see someone eating them and they will give you (normally you don’t ask a stranger but usually someone you know) a handful and you can keep the conversation going and eating them, just like smoking a cigarette.. )
    In the US it is hard to find such sunflower seeds, so we normally buy them in a Russian store…

  • Sherry

    I buy them unshelled and unsalted. I sprinkle a handful in my salad every day.

  • Marie

    I blend them in my high speed blender with lemon juice and fresh herbs. Makes a great veggie dip!

  • snowdog

    sea salt, chipotle powder, garlic powder….

  • yrsa

    i mix them with chick peas and feta cheese with some of whatever spices i have in my pantry

  • Tim Terrillion

    I eat raw organic sunflower seeds in my salads and by the handful at work throughout the day. To the tune of about a 16oz package each week.

  • Khaltzane

    It’s like that here in Australia :/ Have to go find a Russian store to get them too. Good thing there’s one nearby. Even sells kvass 😛

  • H

    I lost 65lbs in 6 months eating a pack (510 calories) as part of a 1500 calorie diet

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  • Dawson Collins

    I eat 1oz of them everyday unsalted all natural non gmo. I mix them with my 1oz of unsalted all natural almonds and then i mix both of them with my 1oz of black berries, 1oz of blue berries and 1oz of black grapes every morning after my cardio work out. for breakfast i have 5oz of assorted beans and vegee’s. i am 47 yrs old started this regiment about 6 weeks ago, all my levels are normal and i have been losing 1.5lbs every few days. I did weigh 250lbs now i am 219 and my target is 190. for dinner i have a sandwich on 24 grain bread with one slice of turkey and chicken with mont jack cheese and mustard. And i feel great. dawson collins is my stepson. my name is Justin.

  • Lynn Kirchhoff

    Two tablespoons every morning of shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds mixed with 2/3 c greek vanilla yogurt, 1 small chopped orange, and 2 tablespoons of rye flakes. Absolutely my favorite breakfast. Love to munch on those seeds! Nice to know how healthy they are.

  • Purplebutterfly

    I eat a handful of them and make a daily sunflower milk for my smoothies. (awesome)

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