Sunflower vs. Pumpkin Seeds: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds

Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are two types of super seeds that boost the nutritional value of the food and drink you consume daily. It is simple and easy to add them into your diet. Both can be eaten raw. You may also roast them first to bring out more flavor. 

Either way, sprinkle them on top or blend them into your snacks and meals, and you’re sure to feel more energized for the day.

What’s the difference between sunflower and pumpkin seeds? The primary difference between sunflower and pumpkin seeds lies in their classification. Sunflower seeds are technically classified as a fruit. They are fruits of sunflowers. However, pumpkin seeds are true seeds that come from varieties of pumpkins or squashes.

What are Other Differences Between Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds?

There are more differences between sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. There is a major difference in their nutritional content. The protein and fat content are not that far off between these two seed types. But sunflower seeds are much higher on dietary fiber and phosphorus (Interestingly, pumpkin seeds have 0 phosphorus content). On the other hand, pumpkin seeds are higher on selenium and potassium content.

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds also differ in taxonomy. Sunflower plants come from Family Asteraceae and Genus Helianthus. They are native to North and Central America. As of 2018 to 2019, Ukraine ranks as the top producer of sunflower seeds (15 Million metric tons). Russia takes second spot at 10 Million metric tons.

As for pumpkins, they come from Family Cucurbitaceae (as with gourds) and Genus Cucurbita L.. Pumpkins are likewise native to Central America. Domestic sunflower seeds have been observed as far back as 2100 BCE in Mexico. Today, China is the top producer of pumpkin. It had supplied close to 1/3 of 2018’s global production of pumpkins (27.6 million tons).

Pumpkins are one of the most popular crops in the United States with Illinois producing about 95% of pumpkins for processing.

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds also differ in appearance. Pumpkin seeds are long and flat. They are light green and have white husks. Sunflower seeds, however, are plump. And the seeds are either all black or black and white striped.

Can You Substitute Sunflower Seeds for Pumpkin Seeds?

Yes, you can substitute sunflower seeds for pumpkin seeds. You can even add them to your recipes together.

Use them in your baked bread and other products, soups, or stews.

When Should You Use Sunflower Seeds?

Many people eat sunflower seeds plain. They make great toppings for salads and morning oats. Like other super seeds, you can use these nutritious seeds in your yogurts and dips for a nutritional boost.

Use sunflower seeds when preparing meals for those who suffer from constipation since the high dietary fiber content will benefit them.

Why not enjoy a healthy salad using sunflower oil and seeds?

It’s easy. Here’s how:

  1. Prepare a serving of cooked vermicelli or thin noodles.
  2. Measure out some shredded cabbage or baby salad leaves of your choice.
  3. Scoop out some sunflower seeds and gather the kernels.
  4. Chop or finely process ¼ of an onion and 1 large tomato.
  5. Choose your salad seasonings. (Salt, pepper, paprika, etc.)
  6. Choose your toppings (bacon bits, cheddar cheese, parmesan, chopped ham/salami).
  7. Mix all these ingredients.
  8. Blend in about 2 to 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil.
  9. Chill in the refrigerator and consume the fresh salad on its own or with roasted meat.

When Should You Use Pumpkin Seeds?

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas is a nutritious snack you can eat raw or roasted for a more nutty taste. You can buy them hulled or semi-hulled.

You can also press oil from roasted pumpkin seeds and use them to make salad dressings or dips. 

Use pumpkin seeds when preparing meals for your young children since the high selenium and zinc content helps support brain development and a healthy appetite in growing kids.

Next time you’re using a pumpkin, don’t throw out the seeds. Why not roast your own pumpkin seeds!

That’s easy to do. Here’s how:

  1. Scoop out the pumpkin seeds.
  2. Dry them with a paper towel.
  3. Season the seeds with salt, some oil, and preferred seasonings.
  4. Lay them on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven for 25-40 minutes at 325 degrees F.
  6. Enjoy!

(Remember to loosely space the seeds on the pan and stir them occasionally. Also, cool your seeds completely before putting them in airtight containers or snack bags.) 

How Do You Store Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds?

Because of the hull, sunflower and pumpkin kernels can stay fresh and crisp for a long time. Extend the quality of your super seeds by placing them in airtight storage jars or bags.

Should You Roast Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds First?

It’s not necessary to roast sunflower and pumpkin seeds before eating them. But roasting these super seeds brings out their flavor. And it’s easy to roast sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. So roast them if you want to intensify the nutty flavor of these seeds.

How Much Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds Should You Eat?

Treat yourself to these nutritious snacks any time of the day. One ounce or 30 grams is a good portion size. That’s about ¼ cup or 4 tablespoons.

Final Thoughts

  • Sunflower seeds are fruits of a sunflower while pumpkin seeds are true seeds from a squash or pumpkin.
  • Sunflower seeds are higher in fiber and phosphorus.
  • Pumpkin seeds are higher in selenium and potassium.
  • Sunflower plants come from the Family Asteraceae and Genus Helianthus but pumpkins come from the Family Cucurbitaceae and Genus Cucurbita L..
  • Ukraine is the top producer of sunflower seeds. On the other hand, China is the top producer of pumpkin.
  • Pumpkin seeds are flat and light green while sunflower seeds are plump and black or black and white striped.
  • Sunflower seeds help you manage constipation.
  • Pumpkin seeds help you deal with a poor appetite.

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