Nut flours are the mainstay of keto baking. But what if you’re allergic to nuts?
Or maybe you would like to have more options available for flour alternatives on the keto diet.
In that case, sunflower seed flour is something you should definitely consider.
Made from seeds, you may be able to enjoy sunflower seed flour if you’re allergic to tree nuts. Sunflower seeds are also easier to process into flour using simple methods.
Not to mention that sunflower seed flour is much cheaper than, say, almond flour.
What Is Sunflower Seed Flour?
If you need clarification: sunflower seed flour is a culinary ingredient made by finely grinding sunflower seeds. You can find it sold in health food stores or on Amazon, and you can easily make it at home with a coffee grinder or food processor.
Sunflower seed flour has a mild, nutty aroma and fine powder texture. It is a great substitute for regular grain flours as well as nut flours in most recipes.
Although, you’ll probably need to combine it with other ingredients to achieve the desired texture. It’s often combined with coconut flour, psyllium husk, and glucomannan in keto recipes for this reason.
This nut-free alternative is also more affordable compared to most nut flours. This can be especially important if you do a lot of keto baking and find that you’re going through your stash of nut flours like crazy.
It’s also considered a viable alternative for people with tree nut and legume allergies. However, it would be best if you still were cautious as cross-reactivity is a thing. Studies have found that people with peanut allergies can sometimes be allergic to seeds as well . Then there’s also a risk of cross-contamination during processing.
Is Sunflower Seed Flour Healthy?
That depends on who you’re asking.
Some will argue it’s not really healthy due to its relatively high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Almost half of the fat found in sunflower seeds is omega-6 fats . These fats are essential to human health, but research shows that we’re consuming too much of these fats that are pro-inflammatory .
However, sunflower seeds are also a source of plant protein, fiber, vitamin E, thiamin, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and many other essential nutrients. We can’t overlook their value as nutritious food just because they’re relatively high in essential but pro-inflammatory fat.
You can counteract this problem by adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your keto diet. Great sources include chia seeds, flaxseed meal, fish, walnuts, and olive oil. Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory, and research shows that a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is more important than trying to avoid omega-6 fats altogether .
Sunflower Seed Flour on Keto
Sunflower seed flour can be a great grain- and nut-free alternative for keto eaters. To understand why that’s the case, check out sunflower seed flour nutrition fact:
Sunflower seed flour (1oz/28g serving):
173 calories | 16g fat | 3g net carbs | 5g protein
As you can see, a serving of this flour has only 3g net carbs. This is pretty decent, especially compared to high-carb flours.
Sunflower seed flour can help you save money on your keto diet. You can use it in place of almond flour in some recipes, whole or in part.
It can also be a great option if you suffer from nut allergies but would really like to make keto-friendly baked desserts (who wouldn’t?).
Sunflower Seed Flour vs. Sunflower Seed Meal
Sometimes, people confuse sunflower seed flour with sunflower seed meal. The former is simply ground sunflowers, while the latter is a by-product of sunflower oil production. In other words, sunflower seed meal is defatted sunflower seeds ground into a powder. Most sunflower seed meal is used as livestock feed due to its high protein content.
However, the terms seem to be used interchangeably, and it’s understandable why. When nuts and seeds are ground whole, the end product is usually called meal (e.g., flaxseed meal, almond meal, etc.) But when they’re ground in their defatted or more processed form, it’s called flour (e.g., almond flour made from blanched almonds).
How to Make Sunflower Seed Flour?
To save yourself the trouble of looking for this rare-to-find flour in stores, here’s how you can make this keto-friendly seed flour at home. You’ll need raw sunflower seeds, a coffee grinder or food processor, and a fine-mesh sieve.
- Step 1: Place the seeds into your coffee grinder or processor.
- Step 2: Grind for 10-20 seconds or until tiny bits form.
- Step 3: Pour the ground seeds into your fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Shake a few times to help the fine bits fall through.
- Step 4: Return any larger bits left in the sieve to your machine and grind again for 5 or so seconds.
- Step 5: Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a month.
Make sure you do not overprocess the seeds, as you’ll end up with sunflower seed butter, aka sunbutter.
If you’re looking for keto-friendly, gluten-free, and nut-free alternatives to make your keto baked goods, then sunflower seed flour is definitely worth considering.
It’s low in carbs, high in fat, and performs well in many recipes. You will have to combine it with other low-carb flours, though, to get the consistency you need. Combining it with other ingredients also helps balance out the omega-6 to the omega-3 fatty acid ratio in many recipes.
You can either buy it in stores or online or make it at home simply by carefully grinding the seeds into a fine powder. Once you get your hands on it, make sure to store it well in an airtight container in a fridge,
- Bublin M, Breiteneder H. Cross-reactivity of peanut allergens. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014;14(4):426. doi:10.1007/s11882-014-0426-8
- Nutrition Data website. Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, dried. Accessed Aug 2021. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3076/2
- Innes JK, Calder PC. Omega-6 fatty acids and inflammation. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2018;132:41-48. doi:10.1016/j.plefa.2018.03.004
- Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002;56(8):365-379. doi:10.1016/s0753-3322(02)00253-6