Choosing the right foods when trying to lose weight can be confusing. What about sunflower seeds, are they good for weight loss or fattening?
Sunflower seeds are simply the seeds of a sunflower. The edible part you get from hulling them is very nutritious.
While sunflower seeds are very high in healthy nutrients like fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals they are also relatively high in calories.
Sunflower seeds are definitely a better food for weight loss than many processed snacks but on the other hand, there are also a lot of foods that are way more useful when trying to lose weight.
If you do decide to add sunflower seeds to your diet choose the one without any added sugar. You will likely also need to exercise some portion control.
Micronutrients in sunflower seeds
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in sunflower seeds.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of roasted sunflower seed kernels provides you with approximately (1):
- Vitamin E: 130% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Phosphorus: 115% of the DV
- Selenium: 113% of the DV
- Manganese: 106% of the DV
- Copper: 92% of the DV
- Vitamin B5: 70% of the DV
- Folate: 59% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 40% of the DV
- Niacin: 35% of the DV
- Zinc: 35% of the DV
- Magnesium: 32% of the DV
- Potassium: 24% of the DV
- Iron: 21% of the DV
And a few others in smaller amounts. These are extremely good amounts of vitamins and minerals per 100 grams. Sunflower seeds can get you well on your way to hitting many daily vitamin and mineral goals.
If you combine sunflower seeds with a healthy diet and you should be able to hit most of your daily vitamin and mineral goals.
Sunflower seeds also contain anti-oxidants. These are substances that help your body deal with oxidative stress, damage that occurs from day to day. It is not entirely clear if and to what extent antioxidants help weight loss.
Fiber in sunflower seeds for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
Roasted sunflower seed kernels contain around 11.1 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
This is a very big amount of fiber per 100 grams compared to many other foods.
Fiber has multiple benefits for weight loss. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
With the amount of fiber in sunflower seeds you can reduce the time you spend craving for food a lot.
Protein in sunflower seeds for weight loss
Another thing in food that can help you on your weight loss journey is the amount of protein in it.
Roasted sunflower seed kernels contain about 19.3 grams of protein per 100 grams. To compare, there are about 25.4 grams per 100 grams in salmon (2). Sunflower seeds are a good source of plant-based protein but also a good source of protein in general.
Protein is considered to be the most filling of the 3 macronutrients. Eating enough protein will also help you prevent muscle loss. Muscle helps you burn extra calories throughout the day which is very good for weight loss. Protein calories also take your body more calories to process than calories from carbs and fats.
The amount of protein in sunflower seeds is big for a plant-based source of protein. You will most likely also need protein from other foods but sunflower seeds can get you well on your way towards your daily protein goals.
Do keep in mind that overdoing it with protein isn’t good either.
Are sunflower seeds good for losing weight?
To know whether or not you can eat sunflower seeds while trying to lose weight you still need a final piece of the puzzle. The number of calories in sunflower seeds.
Roasted sunflower seed kernels contain around 582 calories per 100 grams. 98.1 of these calories come from carbohydrates (24.1 g per 100 grams of which 11.1 g fiber). That means about 163 calories in an ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds.
You might be able to fit in some sunflower seeds in low carb diets like the keto diet.
On the one hand, you have these big amounts of micronutrients, fiber, and plant-based protein but on the other hand, you have this large number of calories.
Sunflower seeds are mostly unique for their high amounts of vitamins and minerals. You should generally be able to get the other nutrients from foods that are more helpful for losing weight.
That being said sunflower seeds can help you lose weight depending on your current diet. They help you consume a lot more fiber and protein which are helpful for reducing hunger. This in turn may help you avoid higher-calorie foods.
Sunflower seeds can contain above-average amounts of cadmium, a substance that can be harmful in excess amounts (3). Healthy adults may want to limit their daily sunflower seed consumption to less than 1 ounce (28 grams) a day to play it safe (4, 5).
In general sunflower seeds likely shouldn’t play too big of a role in your weight loss diet but even a small amount can be helpful for increasing your vitamin and mineral intake.
Can sunflower seeds reduce belly fat?
Targetting fat loss in a specific area like your belly is generally not possible. Not by eating more of a specific food or by doing a specific exercise. To reduce belly fat you have to lose weight overall.
Since sunflower seeds can help you lose weight in general, depending on your current habits, this food can also help you lose belly fat once your body wants to lose fat in your abdominal area. That being said, there is a wide variety of foods that are more helpful than sunflower seeds for reducing belly fat.