Are Sunflower Seeds Keto

Are sunflower seeds keto-friendly?Are Sunflower Seeds Keto-friendly


You are following a ketogenic diet and even though you have mostly given up on snacking, you are missing the crunch of potato chips.

You’ve been researching crunchy snacks and are wondering whether you can eat seeds and specifically sunflower seeds on keto.


Short Answer



The simple answer is that sunflower seeds have low net carbs, low to moderate protein, and high fat.

Okay, let’s talk about sunflower seeds – what are they? Why are they good for keto, how should you eat them, and how much can you eat?

What are Sunflower Seeds?

As the name suggests, they are the seeds of the beautiful sunflower.

You can generally buy them with the shell on or dehulled as sunflower kernels.

I prefer to snack on the kernels, but if you like the seeds you probably already know how to hull them with your teeth.

Let's move on...

What does the macros look like for this humble kernel?


Raw Sunflower Kernels

The macros per quarter cup (roughly 3 tablespoons or just more than an ounce) -

  • Calories - 204 
  • Net Carbs  -  4 
  • Fat  -  18
  • Protein  -  7

Sourced from USDA - per cup

Sunflower seeds are packed with minerals and vitamins. They are all listed at the link above.

These macros are per the US Department of Agriculture. Always check the labels of the product that you are buying. For many of the products on the market today, the net carbs seem to be a little lower.


The macros for the seeds and the kernels are the same, as we don't actually eat the shells.

What is more difficult when you eat the seeds is to calculate the portion size. The weight of the shells is a little more than that of the kernels.

So, for a half a cup of seeds, the macros should be comparable to that of a quarter cup of kernels.  But always check!


Whenever you buy any processed product, you'll have to check the labels as whatever ingredient is added can substantially change the macro profile.

So, stick to raw and or salted without additional flavorings if you want to be sure that you don't add any unwanted sugar to your diet.

Glycemic Index (GI)

As the carbohydrates in sunflower seeds are low, I expect that the glycemic index is low.

It is however not an easy number to find as most sources with GI data focus on high carb foods (for obvious reasons) and foods not necessarily single ingredients.

The best source I can find is which records the GI as 20. Anything below 55 is considered good.

Sunflower kernels should therefore not have a substantial impact on blood glucose levels.

By the way if you are a visual person and like colorful infographics and images then you'll enjoy how display their information.

Is it keto? Sunflower Seeds vs Hulled Kernels


There are many reasons to eat them but my favorite ones are:

Packed with Nutrients 

Some may say that if you look at the breakdown of the ingredients it looks like a multi vitamin. The difference is just that it is a whole food, so even better than taking a multi vitamin.

The Crunch

Many people will tell you what they miss most when they follow a keto diet is the crunch. 

Roasted sunflower seeds can give you the crunch without the added carbohydrates.

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Buying Sunflower Seeds

What to look out for?

  • You want your seeds to be fresh. If they are rancid or moldy, do not eat them.
  • Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Raw or salted. If you do buy them flavored double check for any added sugar.

Seeds vs Kernels

This is all about personal choice.

If you are looking for a game night snack, then you probably prefer the whole seed salted and roasted -

If, like me, you prefer hulled kernels, then try these...

If you are looking for more snack ideas, then check out our favorite keto diet snacks.

How to Eat them

There are many ways to eat sunflower seeds or kernels. If you are looking for a crunchy snack then roasting them is your answer.

But raw is also good and if you like to add them to salads, sprouting them is a great option.

Here are some of our favorites...


The easiest is to eat them raw. This way they may not have the crunch, but they are still packed with nutrients and make for a healthy filling snack.


Raw seeds and nuts contain the antinutrient - phytic acid. This is an enzyme inhibitor and makes it hard to absorb the nutrients from within the nuts or seeds. (Research study)

In nature the objective of phytic acid is to protect the seed until gemination starts.


To access the nutrients, we need to start the germination process. We do this by activating or sprouting the seeds...


The easiest way to activate any seed or nut is to soak them in water with a little salt.

I usually soak them over night and then I dehydrate them in the oven at the lowest possible temperature for up to 24 hours.

But that is because I don't have a dehydrator. If you have one that is the easiest way to do it

Here is exactly how to do it.

Once you start doing this, you'll never eat nuts and seeds raw again as you will be inspired by their taste.


Again, it is an easy way to get the maximum nutrition out of your sunflower seeds. They are also great in salads or even for munchies if that is what you are looking for.

I love this sprouter from Amazon, but obviously you don't need a fancy one like this. Any old mason jar would do.

Fried or Roasted

I like to dry fry them in a skillet with added salt, but you can also fry them with olive oil lard or butter.

Or slow roast them in the oven with salt and any other spices you'd like to add.


In conclusion to the question - Are sunflower seeds keto?

The answer is yes.

But, keep an eye on your portion size.

And yes, we only eat the kernels so that is what we are referring to.

However, if you are asking about sunflower oil, then that is a whole other discussion. But in short, the answer is maybe. Read our full analysis.

Keto Stamp of Approval?

Sunflower seeds are keto approved.

And are a good healthy crunchy snack to incorporate into your low carb high fat diet. 


We Need Your Help

If you have questions about any of your favorite meals or snack is keto then, leave us a comment.

We'd love to incorporate your suggestions into our - "Can I eat this on my keto diet?" series.


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Noline is a therapeutic reflexologist who converted to the keto lifestyle after losing 55 pounds without counting calories or starving herself. She is a Professor Tim Noakes and the Nutrition Network student and feels compelled to share the low-carb lifestyle with as many people as possible. She does this at Essential Keto, where she shares resources, recipes, and experiences while working on losing that last 10 pounds.