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Side Effects of Consuming Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds is commonly consumed as a snack and used as a garnish in many cuisines. It is a great source of many vitamins, however, snacking on them too often can have side effects.

Aarushi Chadha

Sunflower seeds are harvested from the flower of the sunflower plant. It is white in colour and is encased in a black and white shell. They have a tender texture and distinctly nutty flavour. They also have a high nutritional value and are usually eaten raw, roasted, and as an ingredient in certain recipes.

Sunflower seeds are a good source of saturated fat, dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, protein, iron, and calcium. It has several health benefits as well. For instance, zinc present in sunflower seeds prevents hair loss and promotes the growth and repair of hair tissue. Vitamin B, selenium, and Vitamin B1 present in sunflower seeds are known for improving mood and boosting energy levels.

Side effects of consuming sunflower seeds

  • High in calories- Sunflower seeds are high in calories. There are at least 600 calories in 100 grams or a cup of sunflower seeds. It is possible that you can cross your daily calorie intake while just snacking on a cup of sunflower seeds alone. The best way to curb your sunflower seed consumption is to eat the seeds in the shell to slow your pace.

  • Increased selenium intake- Selenium is an essential element that boosts the immune system and is important for the proper functioning of our thyroid gland. Sunflower seeds are a rich source of selenium. However, snacking on sunflower seeds every day can lead to selenium toxicity in the body which is also linked to diabetes.

  • Weight gain- Our body burns calories in order to produce energy. However, our body stores the excess calories we consume as fat. 1 cup of sunflower seeds has 175 calories, which is approximately 10% of the daily intake of calories. Therefore, excessive snacking or using sunflower seeds in a regular diet will lead to excess calorie intake and ultimately weight gain.

  • Tooth and gum damage- Removing the shells of sunflower seeds between our teeth by cracking the shell can weaken the tooth enamel and lead to excessive wear and tear. Plus, sharp slivers of the shell that may get caught between the teeth and gum can irritate the mouth and lead to sores.

  • Excess saturated fat intake- Other than being a rich source of mono and polyunsaturated fats, sunflower seeds are also a rich source of saturated fatty acids. Excessive consumption of sunflower seeds in any form can lead to an increase in the levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. People are recommended to limit their intake of saturated fats to 5 to 6% of their daily calorie intake.

  • Can cause kidney damage- Sunflower seeds have a tendency to retain cadmium from the soil. Cadmium is an industrial agent that is a major cause of kidney disease. Therefore, excessive consumption of sunflower seeds can cause cadmium toxicity or cadmium build up in the kidneys which can damage them.

  • High sodium- Most people who enjoy snacking on sunflower seeds eat flavoured and roasted seeds that have a high salt content. The salt content in the diet can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.

  • Constipation- There is a likelihood that daily or excessive consumption of sunflower seeds in the shell in one sitting can result in stool blockages or severe constipation because of our digestive system’s inability to digest the husk.

  • Allergies- Some people might also be allergic to sunflower seeds. If you develop a skin rash, experience nausea or vomiting, develop a fever, have a problem breathing, or have an itchy mouth after eating sunflower seeds, then you are allergic to sunflower seeds.

Sunflower seeds are the perfect example of too much of a good thing can be bad. While sunflower seeds are a rich source of many nutrients, it also has many drawbacks. Therefore, if you enjoy snacking on them, then try to limit your quantity and eat them infrequently.

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