On occasion, you’ll find yourself with a bag of sunflower seeds purchased as a road trip necessity. These crunchy snacks carry out long spells between highway exits in the same way “Punch Buggy” games and throwback tunes stifle boredom. There was something oddly satisfying (and disgusting) about cracking seeds between your teeth and munching it into a pulpy mush, then spitting it out the car window; it is an occupying habit that still persists from the 1950’s, the age of all-American baseball and chewing tobacco.
And like most vices of the 1950’s (chewing dip, drinking Old Fashioneds before noon, driving without a seat belt), chomping down sunflower seeds turns out to be detrimental to your health. According to the USDA, a quarter cup of dry roasted sunflower seeds contains 186 calories. A quarter cup of sunflower seeds is about less than a handful. And if you’re plowing through several bags of David Seeds, those calories are racking up, which may cause weight gain.
According to Healthline. sunflower seeds are high in selenium which is an important mineral for reducing oxidative stress from free radicals, however consuming too much selenium can lead to toxicity — brittle hair and nails, irritability, fatigue and skin rashes.
After a binging on the seeds, you might notice your mouth and teeth are sore and uncomfortable. That’s because of the sunflower shells, while fun to chew on, puts stress on the teeth and may lead to fractures, damages, and abrasions along your gums.
Sunflower seeds are not entirely unhealthy, however, it’s very easy to overindulge. Some brands contain chemical additives and flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate (MSG).
But, that doesn’t mean you should be deprived. You can still enjoy the taste of sunflower seeds without the drawbacks. Little Things recommends sunflower seed butter, especially to those with a tree nut allergy. It contains healthy fats which can help lower cholesterol and contains more vitamin E, protein, and magnesium than peanut butter.
When eaten in moderation, sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, folate, copper, niacin, protein, and fiber. With almost all things habits (especially vices), moderation is key.