This healthy food may aggravate acne, can damage kidneys if overused

Sunflower seeds Photo Pixabay

Sunflower seeds (Photo: Pixabay)


  • Plant-based food is good for our bodies, eat more seeds, nuts and leafy greens.
  • This is so common a piece of advice now that it has become a theme song, well almost.
  • But what we must also realize is that eating even plant-based foods can indiscriminately turn toxic.

With numerous health influencers extolling the praises of sunflower seeds as a healthy food that can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar; we take it for granted that this must be manna from heaven and after all, no natural foods can cause side effects, right?

No. That is wrong. We must look up facts, as a matter of habit. And especially so on items that sound too good to be true, because they are generally.

Agreed, that sunflower seeds are a rich source of vitamin E., magnesiumprotein, linoleic fatty acids and several plant compounds.

Sunflower seeds are technically the fruits of the sunflower plant (Helianthus annuus). The seeds are harvested from the plant’s large flower heads, which is normally more than a foot long in diameter. A single sunflower head may contain up to 2,000 seeds and each of them is protected inside a hard shell.

How to incorporate sunflower seeds into your daily intake?

  1. Add to green salad, fruit salad, chicken salad, and tuna salad
  2. Add to your breakfast porridge or dalia or oatmeal mix
  3. Create a healthy parfait with sunflower seeds added to layers of probiotic-rich yogurt, whole-grain granola, and colorful fresh fruits.
  4. Sprinkle onto yogurt and ice cream

But let us look at all its virtues, vices, recommended consumption and what quantity would be too much.

Calorie content of Sunflower seeds:

According to the United States Department of Agriculture – USDA
A chipmunk eating sunflower seeds
A chipmunk eating sunflower seeds
  1. 1/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds = 204 calories
  2. 1/2 cup of seeds with edible hulls = 67 calories
  3. Dry-roasted sunflower seeds (1/4-cup serving) = 186 calories
  4. Sunflower seeds roasted in oil (1/4-cup serving) = 200 calories

Is the fat in sunflower seeds harmful?

Sunflower seeds are high in fat, but they are mostly polyunsaturated fats. This is NOT a dangerous or harmful kind of fat if you follow 2 rules:

  1. If they’re eaten in moderation, and
  2. Are eaten instead of foods that are high in saturated and trans fats.

The American Heart Association says polyunsaturated fatty acids may help your heart by reducing bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of cardiac distress, reducing the risk of stroke or heart attack, and keeping blood pressure low.

The Downside of eating too many sunflower seeds:

  1. Acne aggravation: A pilot study was undertaken at the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Iran – with an aim to assess the effect of dietary intake of sunflower seeds on the severity of acne and the pattern of acne lesions. Those in the control group were asked to stop eating sunflower seeds if they did before. The intervention group consumed 25 g of sunflower-containing food daily for seven days. Sunflower seed intake appears to aggravate acne vulgaris.
  2. Too high in calories: You may end up overlooking the fact that if sunflower seeds are not eaten in moderation, the high-fat content may turn on you. A smart trick to eat fewer of them is to fetch them with the shell and eat the seeds by shelling them yourself. That would be a simple way to slow your eating pace and calorie intake while snacking, as it takes time to crack open and spit out each shell.
  3. Too high in sodium content: And by that, we do not mean the sunflower seeds have sodium but that if you are eating the ready-to-eat consumer version, it comes laced with salt and seasoning – often coated with more than 2,500 mg of sodium – 108 per cent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) which is not to exceed 30 grams from all sources.
  4. Cadmium content that can damage kidneys: Sunflower plants have a natural tendency to take up cadmium from the soil and deposit it in its seeds. That leads to the seeds being loaded with a higher amount of cadmium content – a heavy metal that can harm your kidneys if you’re exposed to high amounts over a long period. So, you need not worry if your daily intake does not exceed 1 ounce (30 grams) – but we would warn you against binge-eating or mindlessly gorging on a bowlful while you watch something on the telly.
  5. Sprouted dangers: Generally, sprouted seeds are full of nutrients. Mostly, in India, households create their own sprouts at home. But in the west, sprouts are obtained from factory farm settings. Warm temperatures while handling or salmonella contamination can make it dangerous to eat them raw. So roast or cook sprouted sunflower seeds if you have bought them off the supermarket shelves.
  6. Stool Blockages: Would you have imagined that eating a large number of sunflower seeds at once can possibly cause the stools to become lodged / impacted / blocked in the intestines – in the case of both children and adults? This faecal impaction is largely blamed on unintentionally eaten shell fragments that the body cannot digest and could cause a blockage so bad that the only way out would be surgery that removes the blockage while you’re under general anesthesia.
  7. Allergies: This is not a common reaction but there have been a few cases of reactions that may include asthma, mouth swelling, itching of the mouth, hay fever, skin rashes, lesions, vomiting and anaphylaxis.

Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be constructed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.


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