Are Sun Flower Seeds Keto Friendly? 7 Seeds With Lower Carbs to Try Instead

Keto (Low Carb) | Written by Nathan | Updated on 23 November 2022

A woman wearing a black long sleeved shirt has apple earphones handing from her ears as she sits at a red table with only the lower half of her face showing while she eats a sunflower seed in front of a glass bowl and wonders "Are sun flower seeds keto friendly?".

Are sun flower seeds keto friendly?

Those living a low carb lifestyle may be on the lookout for snacks that fit their needs and to be fair, sun flower seeds are fairly low in carbs. 

However, there’s 7 other seeds with lower carbs that you should try instead so you can use the remaining of your daily carbs for other foods. In addition, we take a look at whether or not sun flower seed oil is keto, seeds to absolutely avoid, the health benefits of these tasty seeds, and a few other low-carb snacks that you can eat on-the-go. 

Are Sunflower Seeds Keto Friendly? (Are Sunflower Seeds Keto Approved?)

Sunflower seeds are a popular snack and can be found in grocery stores, gas stations, and at sporting events, but what about for those who are figuring out how to maintain weight without counting calories and are limiting their carb intake – are sun flower seeds keto friendly? Instead of blindly diving into a bag of these salty goodies, it is important to break down the specifics of this seed.

Ultimately, even though they might not be the best option, they are okay for those following a keto diet.

As most low-carbers know, to stay in ketosis, it is important for a majority of dieters to keep their carb count between 20 and 30 net carbs.1 On average, a single serving of sunflower seeds is 3 net carbs thanks to the fiber content, which is about half the total carbohydrate count.

Are Sunflower Seeds Low Carb? Are Sunflower Seeds Good for Keto Snacks and Recipes? 

There are a variety of sunflower seeds on the market, and even though, as stated above, they average 3 net carbs per serving, the different flavors and cooking methods can change their nutritional profile. The following are just a few examples of sunflower seeds per 1/4 cup serving along with their ingredients and nutrition facts.

A small woven bowl is filled with sunflower seeds and laying on a bed of more sunflower seeds.

Raw Shelled and In-Shell Sunflower Seeds: In their completely natural form, raw sunflower seeds have no additives and are available with or without the shell on. Because the shell isn’t eaten, it doesn’t affect the nutritional data.

Ingredients: Sunflower seeds

  • Calories: 164
  • Fats: 15
  • Carbs: 6
  • Fiber: 3 
  • Protein: 6

Roasted and Salted in Shell Sunflower Seeds: Added flavor and richness is given to sunflower seeds by roasting and salting them and does not increase the carb count.

Ingredients: Sunflower seeds and salt

  • Calories: 190
  • Fats: 15
  • Carbs: 5
  • Fiber: 3
  • Protein: 8

Roasted and Salted Shelled Sunflower Seeds: Although canola oil is added to these shelled sunflower seeds, nothing with additional carbs is included, so the roasted and salted version have an average amount of carbs.

Ingredients: Sunflower seeds, canola oil, and salt

  • Calories: 180
  • Fats: 16
  • Carbs: 5
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 6

Dill Pickle In-Shell Sunflower Seeds: Dill Pickle flavored sunflower seeds add a zesty bite to this crunchy snack. Although there is a lengthy list of ingredients compared to the previous seeds, because they are only on the shell which isn’t eaten, there is not a big impact to the nutrition facts.

Ingredients: Sunflower seeds, salt, sodium diacetate, monosodium glutamate, spices, natural flavors, xantham gum, disodium inosinate, citric acid, disodium guanylate, dried onion, and dried garlic

  • Calories: 180
  • Fats: 14
  • Carbs: 6
  • Fiber: 3
  • Protein: 7

Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds: Unlike the in-shell sunflower seeds detailed directly above, these honey roasted sunflower seeds have no shell, so the sweetened coating goes directly on the edible portion, which does change the nutritional data. When answering the question “Are sun flower seeds keto?”, it is important to make sure there is no added sugar hiking up the carbohydrate total.

Ingredients: Sunflower kernels, cane sugar, honey, maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, corn flour, xantham gum, salt, and high oleic sunflower oil

  • Calories: 170
  • Fats: 14
  • Carbs: 9
  • Fiber: 3
  • Protein: 6

Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

As with other seeds, Sunflower seeds have quite a few benefits that are an added bonus in addition to being able to fit into a keto diet.2 The following vitamins and nutrients found in sunflower seeds can boost the immune system, increase energy, promote heart health, reduce instances of diseases, help with blood flow, plus many more positive actions.

  • Vitamin E
  • Flavenoids
  • Polyunsaturated fat
  • Monounsaturated fat
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B6
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Potassium

Is Sunflower Seed Oil Keto Friendly? Is Sunflower Butter and Flour Low Carb?

Nuts and seeds are the basis of many other food products, but their nutritional specifics do not always carry over identically due to factors such as how they are prepared and processed. Used in several different ways, such as sunflower seed oil, sunflower butter, and sunflower flour – are sun flower seeds keto when altered into these different forms?

  • Sunflower Seed Oil – This alternative to animal fat and vegetable oil is not only 0 carbs, it is also low in saturated fat. Additionally, it contains polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids which can aid in reducing unhealthy triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.3
  • Sunflower Butter – A common alternative to peanut butter due to allergies, sunflower butter also makes a great substitute due to its low carb count.4 The no sugar added version is only 2 net carbs per serving, so make sure to check the label before indulging.
  • Sunflower Flour – Many alternatives exist to regular flour, which is 23 carbs per serving, and sunflower flour is one that is not only lower in carbs than most but is high in other nutrients. With 3 net carbs and 9 grams of protein, this flour will allow keto dieters to bake with confidence.

Are Sunflower Seeds Bad For Keto Diet Followers? What Seeds Can I Eat While on Keto Instead of Sunflower Seeds?

Just like the answer to “Can I eat a donut and still lose weight?” is technically yes, while sunflower seeds aren’t bad for keto, there are better (and worse) options out there. Sunflower seeds have a moderate amount of carbs per serving for keto, and because of their tiny size, it is easy to fall victim to overeating and unintentionally multiplying that carb count.

Two hands are cupped together and filled with sunflower seeds with green grass in the background.

Another thing to note is the importance of keeping an eye on sodium content. Consuming raw sunflower seeds will contain no salt, but sodium content in flavored sunflower seeds can be as high as 2200 milligrams, which can lead to bloating, water retention, and can potentially lead to high blood pressure.

Instead of sticking with sunflower seeds as a snack go-to, keto enthusiasts might consider one of the various other types of seeds that have a lower carb (and potentially lower sodium) total. What some dieters may find interesting is that nuts are actually seeds; so, when looking for seeds that fit into a keto lifestyle, expanding the search for low carb nuts can widen the variety of choices.5

7 Seeds That Are Lower In Carbs & More Keto Friendly Than Sunflower Seeds

1. Pumpkin Seeds – 1 Net Carb

Pumpkin seeds are no longer just an ideal treat for post-pumpkin carving at Halloween, they are actually one of the lowest carb seed choices available. Whether consumers decide to season and roast them up themselves or purchase them from the impulse rack at the grocery stores, pumpkin seeds are a salty and crunchy snack that no one has to feel guilty about.

Calories 150
Fat 10
Carbs 7
Fiber 6
Protein 8

2. Pecans – 1.2 Net Carbs

For those looking for a rich and tasty way to satiate their hunger pangs, pecans are not only low in carbs, but they also provide a healthy dose of good fats that are ideal for those following a carb restricted diet. They are so good, in fact, that they are the star ingredient in Russell Stover Sugar Free keto pecan clusters, which are the top selling sugar free candy and a go-to for anyone watching their carb intake.

Calories 196
Fat 20
Carbs 3.9
Fiber 2.7
Protein 2.6

3. Brazil Nuts – 1.4 Net Carbs

Ever present in the in-shell mixed nut basin at many grocery stores, the brazil nut may seem intimidating due to its tough exterior. However, its meaty inside packs a satisfying flavor and texture with a low net carb count.

Calories 186
Fat 19
Carbs 3.5
Fiber 2.1
Protein 4.1

4. Macadamia Nuts – 1.5 Net Carbs

Often shied away from by dieters for its high fat content, the macadamia nut is an ideal choice for those on keto. The ratio of macros in this creamy and buttery textured goody couldn’t be more perfect due to the low carb, high fat, and midrange protein amounts.

Calories 204
Fat 21
Carbs 3.9
Fiber 2.4
Protein 2.2

5. Chia Seeds – 2 Net Carbs 

Not necessarily a great seed to graze on by itself, the chia seed’s ultra high fiber content make it perfect for protein shake diet plans and toppings on other foods, such as yogurt. The chia seed is unlike any other food on this list and its unique properties, such as its texture along with its low carb content, make it a very enticing option to add to a snack routine.

Calories 138
Fat 9
Carbs 12
Fiber 10
Protein 4.7

6. Walnuts – 2 Net Carbs

Not everyone enjoys plain walnuts, so if this low carb nut isn’t a good flavor fit alone, consider using it in low carb baking or sprinkling it as a topping on salads or other dishes that need some flare.

Calories 185
Fat 18
Carbs 3.9
Fiber 1.9
Protein 4.3

7. Pine Nuts – 2.6 Net Carbs

Another seed that might not be ideal to munch on alone is pine nuts. These flavorful and crunchy treats can also be a great addition to meals and sides.

Calories 191
Fat 19
Carbs 3.7
Fiber 1.1
Protein 3.9

Seeds to Avoid On a Keto Diet

Not all seeds are as low carb friendly as those mentioned above, so in addition to the next few seeds which are best to avoid while following keto, it is suggested to pay close attention to nutrition facts and ingredients before eating foods that aren’t familiar.

Two wooden bowls are laid on their side spilling out almonds in the bowl on the left and cashews in the bowl on the right with a large red X is intron of the bowls.

1. Pomegranate Seeds – 40.7 Net Carbs

Although a very tasty fruit, the seeds of the pomegranate are very high in sugar which makes the carb count skyrocket. Even though it doesn’t feel like damage is being done while noshing on those juicy kernels, at 40.7 net carbs per pomegranate, these seeds can kick dieters out of ketosis.

Calories 234
Fat 3.3
Carbs 52
Fiber 11.3
Protein 4.7

2. Cashews – 8.9 Net Carbs

Cashews may be rich and delicious, they also pack a high carbohydrate punch while simultaneously having barely any fiber, which makes the net carb count hardly differ from the total count. While a one ounce serving of this seed might not ruin a keto diet, it certainly fills up nearly half of the daily carb allotment and removes the option to fill that allowance on vegetables and other nutritious choices. 

Calories 157
Fat 12
Carbs 9
Fiber 0.1
Protein 5

3. Pistachios – 5.1 Net Carbs

While these nuts may have an easy exterior to crack, there are far better options for followers of a keto diet to choose. Pistachios are sold both shelled and in-shell, so if low-carbers want to indulge, they may do better picking out the in-shell version to deter them from overeating.

Calories 159
Fat 13
Carbs 8
Fiber 2.9
Protein 6

4. Almonds – 3 Net Carbs

Almonds can hardly be labeled as bad because along with a moderate carb count, there are many health benefits; but, with the laundry list of low carb choices when it comes to other nuts and seeds, almonds end up pretty far down the list. 

Calories 161
Fat 14
Carbs 6
Fiber 3
Protein 6

Other Low Carb Keto Snack Ideas

Following common home remedies to lose weight in 7 days may be helpful to reach weight loss goals, but having an arsenal of low carb snacks on hand can keep dieters satisfied for the long haul. Most seeds and nuts, as learned about above, are great pantry staples, but what other foods are a good fit for low-carbers?

  • Beef Jerky (No sugar added)
  • Pork Rinds
  • Lunch meat and cheese roll up
  • Greek yogurt (No sugar added)
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Dill pickles
  • Celery and ranch dip

Making snack and meal time decisions can, at times, be overwhelming when comparing carb counts of every single item; so, instead of questioning “Are sun flower seeds keto friendly?”, rest assured that as long as they are eaten in moderation, they are okay, but it may be beneficial to branch out and try the myriad of other healthy and tasty seeds that are perfect for keto.

Frequently Asked Questions About Are Sun Flower Seeds Keto

How Many Sunflower Seeds Are Okay to Eat on Keto?

Because most sunflower seeds are around 3 net carbs per serving, which is 1/4 cup of shelled seeds, assuming no other carbs are consumed in a day, between 6 and 10 servings can be eaten without being kicked out of ketosis.

When Are Sun Flower Seeds Keto?

Ensuring that the sunflower seeds that are being consumed don’t have excess amounts of sugar is the most important thing to consider and is the difference between them being keto or not.

Are Sunflower Seeds Gluten Free?

There is no gluten found naturally in sunflower seeds, however, some flavored sunflower seeds may have ingredients that do contain gluten, so it is important to confirm by reading the ingredients before consuming.


References

1PennState Extension. (2018, July 2). The Ketogenic Diet: Is It For You? Penn State Extension. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from <https://extension.psu.edu/the-ketogenic-diet-is-it-for-you>

2Sachdev, P. (2022, September 20). Sunflower Seeds: Health Benefits, Nutrients per Serving, Preparation Information, and More. WebMD. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from <https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-sunflower-seeds>

3Brennan, D. (2020, October 30). Sunflower Oil: Is It Good for You? Pros and Cons, Nutrition Information, and More. WebMD. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from <https://www.webmd.com/diet/sunflower-oil-good-for-you>

4United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Sunflower Seed Butter and Almond Butter as Nutrient-Rich Alternatives to Peanut Butter. USDA ARS. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from <https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400525/Articles/ADA10_SunflowerAlmondButter.pdf>

5USDA U.S. Forest Service. (n.d.). Nuts. USDA Forest Service. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from <https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/ethnobotany/food/nuts.shtml>

About the Author

Nathan

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.