Cashew vs. Sunflower seed — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Both sunflower seeds and cashews are packed with compounds beneficial for health. However, they differ in the density of nutrients they provide. Sunflower seeds are richer in fats, proteins, and vitamins. Cashews provide 10.2g of carbs and are richer in vitamin K and iron.
Table of contents
Cashew is a kidney-shaped seed of the cashew tree - a tropical tree growing in warm climates across the world. Sunflower seeds are a very popular nutrient-dense snack. This article compares the nutritional values and health impacts of raw cashews (1) and dried sunflower seeds (2).
Both cashew and sunflower seeds are rich in fats. However, sunflower seeds are higher in fats, than cashews: 100g serving of them provides 51.5g of fats compared to 43.9g in the same amount of cashews. These foods are rich in unsaturated fats. Sunflower seeds are especially high in linoleic acid, which is linked with reducing LDL cholesterol (3).
Sunflower seeds are higher in proteins than cashews. 100g of sunflower seeds contains 20.8g of proteins compared to 17.2g in the same serving of cashews.
One of the main proteins provided by cashews is glutelin (4), which is a common storage protein in plant seeds.
Cashews are richer in carbs than sunflower seeds. A 100g serving of cashews provides 30.2g of carbs, while the same amount of sunflower seeds contains 20g.
Sunflower seeds are nearly three times rich in fiber. They provide 9g of fiber compared to 3g in cashews. Therefore, the net carb content in cashews is higher.
It is important to mention that cashews contain 23.5g of starch, while sunflower seeds do not contain any.
Both cashews and sunflower seeds are considered to be high-calorie foods. However, in terms of calories, sunflower seeds (584calories per 100g) are a little bit higher than cashews (553calories per 100g).
Cashews and sunflower seeds are extremely rich in minerals. They cover the daily needs for nearly all the minerals, except sodium and calcium.
Sunflower seeds contain more calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. They have nearly two times more calcium than cashews.
Cashews provide more zinc, copper, and iron.
The winner in this section is sunflower seeds. They provide more amounts of all the vitamins than cashews. They are richer in vitamins C, E, and A. They contain more B complex vitamins.
Cashews are richer only in vitamin K. They contain 34 micrograms of vitamin K, while sunflower seeds do not have any.
Nuts, such as cashews, promote cardiovascular health (5). Sunflower seeds also provide a lot of chemicals that are good for the heart. However, these foods differ in the compounds they provide for cardiovascular health.
A study (6) shows that people who get 10% of the daily calories from cashews had lower LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio than those who did not eat cashews. Lower this ratio less risk of the development of cardiovascular disease.
Sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium and linoleic acid (7) (8). Both are used in your organism to relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure (9).
Both sunflower seeds and cashews are suitable for people with diabetes, but they contain different chemicals which help control blood sugar levels.
Sunflower seeds provide an antioxidant linked with glucose metabolism (10). That chemical is chlorogenic acid. One of the studies shows that people who consume sunflower seeds regularly may reduce blood sugar levels by 10% in six months (9).
Studies show that consuming cashews helps control insulin levels (6). Also, cashews contain a notable amount of fiber that protects the organism against type 2 diabetes (11).
Despite all the benefits they provide, cashews and sunflower seeds can be harmful too.
Roasted or salted cashews may contain high amounts of salt and oils. Also, cashews contain phytates which make absorption of vitamins and minerals difficult. They can be allergic to people who are sensitive to tree nuts.
Sunflower seeds contain high levels of cadmium, a metal that can harm kidneys. They are prepared with the sprouting method, which is a good living condition for harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella (12). There are reports of fever, skin rashes, and anaphylactic reactions linked with the consumption of sunflower seeds too.
Fat Type Comparison
Carbohydrate type comparison
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in minerals||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||0µg||3µg|
|Omega-3 - EPA||0g||0.014g|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|
People also compare
Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.
- Cashew - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170162/nutrients
- Sunflower seed - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170562/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.