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4 Side Effects of Eating Sunflower Seeds, Says Dietitian

Another seed on the list you'll want to start eating every day.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

When you think of sunflower seeds, you might think of baseball games when players are eating sunflower seeds by the handful. You crack open the hard exterior and enjoy the small seed. You can also turn them into delicious snacks using other ingredients to make something filling and healthy. Or, you can just pop them in your mouth!

Although seeds are known to have some healing powers, it's important you know which ones to grab off the shelves. Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND award-winning nutrition expert, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook breaks down the side effects of eating sunflower seeds. Read on, then be sure to check out more with Side Effects of Eating Pumpkin Seeds, Say Dietitians.

1

They may help fight inflammation.

Inflammation in knee
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According to Amidor, sunflower seeds provide both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Per one ounce of sunflower seeds, you'll find about three grams and nine grams of each.

Having a healthy dose of mono- and polyunsaturated fats in your diet may help lower inflammation. "Unsaturated fats have been shown to help decrease inflammation," says Amidor.

RELATED: 30 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Weight Loss.

2

You may go over your daily sodium recommendation.

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"Choosing salted sunflower seeds can certainly send your daily recommended amount of sodium through the roof," says Amidor.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend choosing nuts and seeds that have no sodium.

An example Amidor provides is with one serving of David's Original Sunflower Seeds. These seeds contain 123% of your daily recommended amount or 2,820 milligrams of sodium.

"The recommended daily maximum per the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines is 2,300! If you choose to have sunflower seeds opt for no added salt varieties," suggests Amidor.

3

They may help improve heart health.

Woman experiencing heart burn and acid reflux from gastroesophageal disease
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"A study published in the journal Circulation found that participants who ate more seeds, including sunflower seeds, were associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and CVD risk factors including high cholesterol," explains Amidor.

Similarly, sunflower seeds can help lower blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it can damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. This may potentially cause a heart attack or heart failure if worked too hard.

One ounce of sunflower seeds contains 7.4 milligrams of vitamin E which is almost half of the recommended daily intake, making sunflower seeds an excellent source of this nutrient. Dietary vitamin E intake has been linked to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.  According to a review published in American Journal of Therapeutics, consuming foods rich in vitamin E has been connected to a lower risk of coronary heart disease in both middle-aged to older men and women.

RELATED: 5 Worst Drinks That Can Increase Your Risk of a Heart Attack

4

They may help control blood sugar in people with diabetes.

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According to the Cureus Journal of Medical Science, sunflower seeds contain chlorogenic acid, which studies have shown to lower blood sugar. Other studies have also suggested that sunflower seeds provided better glycemic control, meaning these seeds have anti-diabetic properties.

"A study published in the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research looked at the effects of sunflower seed consumption on blood sugar levels in people with diabetes," explains Amidor.

Therefore, this study suggested that those taking sunflower seeds showed a positive and faster decrease in their fasting blood sugar levels compared to those who were in the control group.

Kayla Garritano
Kayla Garritano is a Staff Writer for Eat This, Not That! She graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more