Can Sunflower Seeds Make You Lose Weight?

To set the record straight, no single food can make you lose weight, not even the super trendy chia seeds and flaxseeds. While sunflower seeds may seem like old news, that doesn't mean you should cut them from your diet. Like their trendy cousins, the health benefits of sunflower seeds make them worth keeping them in the rotation to support your weight-loss efforts.

The fiber and protein in sunflower seeds can support a healthy weight loss. (Image: xcarrot_007/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

No, sunflower seeds alone cannot make you lose weight. But the nutrient-rich seed can support your weight-loss goals.

Balancing Calories for Weight Loss

If only weight loss were as easy as adding sunflower seeds to your daily menu. While there are numerous diet plans that can help you achieve your weight-loss goals — from low-carb to low-fat to medically supervised weight loss — they all have one thing in common: They cut your calorie intake.

Weight loss all comes down to creating the right balance of calories.

  • Eating more calories than your body burns = weight gain
  • Eating fewer calories than your body burns = weight loss

The number of calories you need to lose depends on many factors, including your age, gender, activity and overall health. You can use an online calorie calculator to help you determine your weight-loss calorie needs. In general, most women can lose weight eating 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day and men, 1,500 to 1,800 calories.

Weight Loss: More Than Calories

While calories count when it comes to weight loss, so does nutrition. Filling your weight-loss diet with highly processed, low-nutrient foods doesn't support your weight loss or your health, even if you stay within your desired calorie range. Plus, it may leave you feeling too hungry, which may make it difficult for you to stick with your weight-loss plan.

Nope, weight loss isn't just about calories. To lose weight you not only need to pay attention to the number of calories you eat, but you also need to fill your diet with healthy, nutrient-rich foods. Supplying your body with all of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (and other substances in whole foods that researchers haven't identified yet) from a wide variety of healthy foods ensures your body — including your calorie-burning metabolism — functions at its best.

Plus, many of these healthy foods also contain nutrients that keep you feeling full longer, which makes sticking to your weight-loss diet a lot easier. To lose weight and ensure your body gets what it needs, fill your diet with:

  • A rainbow of fruits and vegetables such as broccoli and citrus fruits
  • Whole grains, such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, oats and quinoa
  • Lean proteins, such as poultry, fish, red meat and legumes
  • Healthy fats, such as sunflower seeds, chia seeds, nut butters and olive oil

Sunflower Seeds Nutrition

Whether your goal is to improve the quality of your diet, prevent chronic disease or lose weight, sunflower seeds nutrition can work for you.

A 1-ounce serving of dried sunflower seeds, which is about 3 tablespoons, contains:

  • 164 calories
  • 14 grams of fat
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 6 grams of carbohydrates
  • 10 percent of the daily value (DV) for fiber
  • 22 percent of the DV for magnesium
  • 13 percent of the DV for zinc
  • 24 percent of the DV for manganese
  • 27 percent of the DV for selenium
  • 66 percent of the DV for vitamin E

That 1-ounce serving is also an excellent source of many of the B vitamins, including thiamin, niacin, folate and vitamin B6. Because calories count when you want to lose weight: One tablespoon of sunflower seeds supplies 51 calories.

Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds nutrition goes beyond helping you meet your essential nutrient needs; it also supports your health. The health benefits of sunflower seeds may help improve blood sugar control and lower your risk of heart disease.

Diet is an integral part of the treatment plan for people with diabetes. Adding sunflower seeds to your diet may help improve blood sugar levels, according to a 2012 study published in ISRN Nutrition. During this study, women with Type 2 diabetes who added an ounce of sunflower seeds to their usual diet showed a significant improvement in their blood sugar levels.

Heart disease is the number-one killer of both men and women in the United States, but the health benefits of sunflower seeds may offer you some protection against this common and deadly disease. In addition to better blood sugar values, the women in the study also showed a significant improvement in blood cholesterol levels, which is important for heart health. Sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of magnesium, which plays a critical role in helping regulate blood pressure.

Sunflower Seeds Support Weight Loss

Sunflower seeds are a concentrated source of calories, but that doesn't mean they can't support your weight-loss efforts. Sunflower seeds nutrition, namely their fiber, may also boost your weight-loss.

A 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that making one simple change to your diet can help support your weight loss, and that was adding more fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate your body can't digest, and it helps keep you feeling full longer without adding any extra calories. You should aim for about 30 grams of fiber a day, and 1 ounce of sunflower seeds provides 2.4 grams — meeting about 10 percent of your DV — and can certainly help you meet your fiber goals for weight loss

It's not just the fiber that can keep your hunger pangs away, but the protein, too. When it comes to satiety, protein beats both carbohydrates and fats. According to a 2015 review published in Advanced Nutrition, the satiating power of protein is due to the multiple effects it has on your metabolic pathways, including gastrointestinal hormones and blood levels of amino acids that send signals to your brain that you're full. One ounce of sunflower seeds has 6 grams of protein.

Losing Weight With Sunflower Seeds

If you're following a 1,500-calorie weight-loss diet, you may not be willing to sacrifice 164 calories — 10 percent of your daily calorie needs — on an ounce of sunflower seeds. But the sunflower seed calories in 1 tablespoon (51 calories) may not sound too bad. That way you get some of the health benefits, but fewer calories.

Sprinkle your sunflower seeds on your:

  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Mixed greens
  • Fruit salad
  • Avocado toast

You can also add sunflower seeds to your meatloaf, favorite quinoa salad or banana nut bread recipe for the flavor and the health benefits.

What About Those Other Seeds?

Chia seeds and flaxseeds both make healthy additions to your diet and can support your weight-loss efforts just like sunflower seeds. If you're comparing calories, the sunflower seeds are the lowest of the three.

  • Chia seeds calories in 1 tablespoon: 58 calories
  • Flaxseed calories in 1 tablespoon: 55 calories
  • Sunflower seeds calories in 1 tablespoon: 51 calories

While those 10 or so calories may not seem like much, every calorie counts when you're trying to lose weight.

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