Is There a Difference Between Sunflower Nuts and Seeds?

Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Sunflower seeds are a nutritional powerhouse packed with antioxidants, selenium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus and healthy unsaturated fats. You may have heard the term "sunflower seeds" used interchangeably with the word "nuts" and wondered if there is a difference. Nuts and seeds can refer to different parts of the sunflower seed, and nut retailers may use the term differently.


The seed from the sunflower is a long black- and white-colored seed. It is often referred to as a seed, whether it is shelled or not. Nut purveyors may refer to the raw seed as either "in shell" if it still has the shell or "no shell" if it does not have a shell.


Once shelled, the meat inside of the sunflower seed is typically referred to as a nut. You may even see it called a kernel, instead of a seed. These terms -- as well as the term "seed" -- are interchangeable when referring to the sunflower nut.


You can use sunflower nuts and seeds in many of the same ways. Salt and roast, either the nuts or shelled seeds, in an oven for a crispy snack. Add seasonings to roasted seeds, such as Cajun, barbecue or taco. The nut, removed from the shell, has a better texture and can be mixed into granola, salads and salads or added to cookies, muffins, breads, pancakes or waffles.


One major difference between the seed, still in the shell, and a shelled nut is rancidity. Once shelled, the nuts can go bad quickly, especially after roasting. Store the nuts in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or in the freezer for longer storage.