Jump to content

Sunflower seed

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Sunflower seeds)

Left: dehulled kernel. Right: whole seed with hull.
Whole sunflower seeds

A sunflower seed is a seed from a sunflower (Helianthus annuus). There are three types of commonly used sunflower seeds: linoleic (most common), high oleic, and sunflower oil seeds. Each variety has its own unique levels of monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated fats. The information in this article refers mainly to the linoleic variety.

For commercial purposes, sunflower seeds are usually classified by the pattern on their husks. If the husk is solid black, the seeds are called black oil sunflower seeds. The crops may be referred to as oilseed sunflower crops. These seeds are usually pressed to extract their oil. Striped sunflower seeds are primarily eaten as a snack food; as a result, they may be called confectionery sunflower seeds.

The term "sunflower seed" is actually a misnomer when applied to the seed in its pericarp (hull). Botanically speaking, it is a cypsela.[1] When dehulled, the edible remainder is called the sunflower kernel or heart.


Sunflower seed production – 2022
Country Production
(millions of tonnes)
World total
Source: FAOSTAT of the United Nations[2]

In 2022, global production of sunflower seeds added up to 54 million tonnes, led by Russia and Ukraine with 51% of the world total combined (table). Argentina, China, and Turkey also contributed significant volumes.


Sunflower seed kernels, dried
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy2,445 kJ (584 kcal)
20 g
Sugars2.62 g
Dietary fiber8.6 g
51.46 g
Saturated4.455 g
Monounsaturated18.528 g
Polyunsaturated23.137 g
20.78 g
Thiamine (B1)
1.48 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.355 mg
Niacin (B3)
8.335 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
1.13 mg
Vitamin B6
1.345 mg
Folate (B9)
227 μg
55.1 mg
Vitamin C
1.4 mg
Vitamin E
35.17 mg
78 mg
5.25 mg
325 mg
1.95 mg
660 mg
645 mg
9 mg
5 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water4.7 g

Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[3] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[4]

Sunflower seeds are commonly eaten as a snack, but can also be consumed as part of a meal. They can be used as garnishes or ingredients in various recipes. The seeds may be sold as in-shell seeds or dehulled kernels or be sprouted and eaten in salads.

When in-shell seeds are processed, they are first dried. Afterwards, they may be roasted or dusted with salt or flour for the preservation of flavor.

Sunflower seeds sold by the bag are either eaten plain, salted (sometimes called 'plain') or with flavoring added by the manufacturer. Flavor examples include barbecue, pickle, hot sauce, bacon, ranch, and nacho cheese.

In-shell, sunflower seeds are particularly popular in Mediterranean, Eastern European, and Asian countries where they can be bought freshly roasted and are commonly consumed as street food, the hull being cracked open with the teeth and spat out, while in many countries, they can be bought freshly packed in various roasted flavors. In the United States, they are commonly eaten by baseball players as an alternative to chewing tobacco.[5]

Mechanically dehulled kernels are sold raw or roasted and are sometimes added to bread and other baked goods for their flavor. Sunflower seed brittle is produced by embedding the kernels in hard sugar candy. In Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and Romania, roasted ground seeds are used to make a type of halva.

Sunflower butter is similar to peanut butter, but made from sunflower seeds instead of peanuts, and may be a substitute for children with nut allergies. However, sunflower seeds may also cause allergies in rare cases.[6]

Sunflower seeds are commonly used as food for pets, typically being included in birdseed mix for bird feeders.


In a 100-gram serving, dried whole sunflower seeds provide 584 kilocalories and are composed of 5% water, 20% carbohydrates, 51% total fat and 21% protein (table). The seeds are a rich source (20% or higher of the Daily Value, DV) of protein (42% DV), dietary fiber (36% DV), many B vitamins (23–129% DV) and vitamin E (234% DV). The seeds also contain high levels of dietary minerals, including magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron and zinc (40–94% DV).

Half of the weight of sunflower seeds is fat, mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, principally linoleic acid. Additionally, the seeds contain phytosterols which may contribute toward lower levels of blood cholesterol.[7]

Pressed oil[edit]

Sunflower oil is popular worldwide. The oil may be used as is, or may be processed into polyunsaturated margarines. The oil is typically extracted by applying high pressure to the sunflower seeds and collecting the oil. The protein-rich cake remaining after the seeds have been processed for oil is used as livestock feed.

The original sunflower oil (linoleic sunflower oil) is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (about 68% linoleic acid) and low in saturated fats, such as palmitic acid and stearic acid. However, various hybrids have been developed to alter the fatty acid profile of the crop for various purposes.[8][9]


The hulls, or shells, mostly composed of cellulose, decompose slowly and may be burned as biomass fuel.[10] Sunflower hulls of the cultivated sunflower (Helianthus annuus) contain allelopathic compounds which are toxic to grasses and the vast majority of cultivated garden plants.[11][12] Only a small number of garden plants, such as day lilies, are unaffected by the allelopathic compounds found in sunflower hulls.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marzinek, Juliana; De-Paula, Orlando Cavalari; Oliveira, Denise Maria Trombert (September 2008). "Cypsela or achene? Refining terminology by considering anatomical and historical factors". Revista Brasileira de Botânica. 31 (3): 549–553. doi:10.1590/S0100-84042008000300018. hdl:11449/28034. ISSN 0100-8404.
  2. ^ "Sunflower seed production in 2022, Crops/Regions/World list/Production Quantity/Year (pick lists)". UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT). 2024. Retrieved 10 June 2024.
  3. ^ United States Food and Drug Administration (2024). "Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels". Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  4. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium (2019). Oria, Maria; Harrison, Meghan; Stallings, Virginia A. (eds.). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press (US). ISBN 978-0-309-48834-1. PMID 30844154.
  5. ^ Blount R (6 October 1980). "The Seeds of Content". Sports Illustrated.
  6. ^ Ukleja-Sokołowska, Natalia; Gawrońska-Ukleja, Ewa; Żbikowska-Gotz, Magdalena; Bartuzi, Zbigniew; Sokołowski, Łukasz (7 July 2016). "Sunflower seed allergy". International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. 29 (3): 498–503. doi:10.1177/0394632016651648. ISSN 2058-7384. PMC 5806758. PMID 27222528.
  7. ^ "Sunflower Seeds, Pistachios Among Top Nuts For Lowering Cholesterol". Science Daily. 7 December 2005. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  8. ^ "National Sunflower Association : Sunflower Oil". Sunflowernsa.com. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  9. ^ "Sunflower Seeds and Oil | Food Source Information". fsi.colostate.edu. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  10. ^ Zabaniotou AA, Kantarelis EK, Theodoropoulos DC (May 2008). "Sunflower shells utilization for energetic purposes in an integrated approach of energy crops: laboratory study pyrolysis and kinetics" (PDF). Bioresource Technology. 99 (8): 3174–81. doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2007.05.060. PMID 17651967.
  11. ^ a b Leather GR (1987). "Weed control using allelopathic sunflowers and herbicide". Plant and Soil. 98: 17–23. doi:10.1007/BF02381723. S2CID 991370.
  12. ^ a b Ciarka D, Gawronska H, Szawlowska U, Gawronski SW (2009). "Allelopathic potential of sunflower. I. Effects of genotypes, organs and biomass partitioning". Allelopathy Journal. 23 (1): 95–109.

External links[edit]