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Old 09-11-2016, 10:12 AM   #1
Cinnamon Bear
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Default Sunflower seeds

There seems to be confusion over sunflower seeds being healthy for diabetic hamsters. One cup of sunflower seeds contains 818 calories

72 gm of fat

28 gm of Carbohydrates


29 gm of Protein

You want a diet that is high in fiber and low in carbs and sugars.
There is also fiber and sugars in sunflower seeds, obviously high in fat

I am a beginner at nutritional values and what they mean but maybe this will help clearify the confusion

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Last edited by Cinnamon Bear; 09-11-2016 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 09-11-2016, 10:40 AM   #2
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Default Re: Sunflower seeds

You're getting a bit confused with the difference between sugars & carbs I think CB.

Even with diabetes a ham needs carbs, complex carbs which the body has to break down & slowly release as sugars into the body which keeps blood sugar levels stable & doesn't raise them suddenly the way sugars do.
Foods that contain complex carbs rather than sugars normally have good levels of fibre too, like whole grains for example so those foods are actually good.

Nutritional values can be confusing when you begin to study them so you're better off just sticking to a good mix & or lab blocks & not worrying too much about it.
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Sunflower seeds

I'm interested in it now that I have Cinnamon & Koala doing terrible. Thanks for your reply Cypher, what you said makes sense. I gave Cinnamon a pumpkin seed this morning cause I want him to have quality of life too. I gave Koala about 3 sunflower seeds today already as treats after his injection. He won't get anymore sunflower seeds today.

Don't know why vets are against sunflower seeds? I haven't spoken to any vet that says it's ok to feed them sunflower seeds?

I took a bag of Vita Nature to the vet & she said, "it still has sunflower seeds in it". I'll feed them Vita Nature for their diabetic food if I can get them to eat it?

Cinnamon eats like a horse. Yet he's losing weight?
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:40 AM   #4
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Default Re: Sunflower seeds

If carbs release sugars into the body at a steady level, maybe that's why the vets say to keep them low?

Cause you don't want sugars from carbs?

Maybe really limit the amount of seeds given?
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Old 09-11-2016, 03:39 PM   #5
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Default Re: Sunflower seeds

Perhaps you need a vet who understands that carbs are not harmful,and that seeds are also extremely healthy and should not be completely removed from the diet?

Sunflower seeds in particular are often incorrectly labelled as unhealthy for most pets,including hamsters and birds.However,this is incorrect as long as you're not giving your hamster more than what the mix provides in terms of sunflower seeds.

That's not even considering the old myth that carbohydrates themselves are also unhealthy,which as cypher has already mentioned is also untrue.

Overall I think you need to get a vet who actually understands what they're talking about,instead of one who clearly doesn't know anything up to date on hamster nutrition.
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Old 09-11-2016, 04:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: Sunflower seeds

Last night I counted the number of seeds from 2 tbsp of food, 9 sunflower seeds. I threw them all away & put oats in his dish instead. So this morning I didn't feel so bad giving him a big pumpkin seed. Those are his favorite, pumpkin seeds (Cinnamon). Tomorrow I'm going to get him some broccoli for some fiber.

I don't know why there is a difference in opinion regarding sunflower seeds. There is a exotic specialist vet in the area. I think I'll call there tomorrow & ask them. I'll post on here what they say if the vet is working tomorrow?
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Old 09-11-2016, 04:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: Sunflower seeds

I'm pretty sure the fats are good fats in sunflower seeds. Remember a cup of seeds is quite a lot though - most hams will get two to three a day maximum probably (depending on diet). Moderation is key.

I think with diabetic-prone hams the focus is on low sugar not low carbs. Carbs will be providing the majority of the energy (I believe?) so I think a carb-rich diet is important as long as it's mainly complex carbs (like cypher said).

Seeds should be an important part of a diet - in fact I know for sure that Jasper's main ingredient in his food is seeds but then he isn't diabetes prone.

Sunflower seeds make a great healthy treat - Jasper gets a few every couple of days or so hidden around his cage and he has great fun in finding them. In fact it's the only treat I have found he loves (apart from Whimzees and Greenies). I don't think seeds should be removed from the diet at all - especially since it's a much-loved treat (by most hams).

My main concern with sunflower seeds is the fat so I think that's the only thing you need you really need to watch out for. From personal research, I have found they are high in protein and fibre as well - making a healthy treat.

EDIT: CB by throwing the seeds away and adding oats you will be unbalancing the nutritional value of the food you use. This is not normally recommended so be careful when changing mixes around a bit. An exotic vet might know but they'd really need to be a specialist to be much help. I do agree that 9 sunflower seeds might be a bit much but just make sure you know exactly what you're doing when it comes to nutrition - if it goes wrong it could affect your hamster in a BIG way.
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Last edited by chesca_27; 09-11-2016 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 09-11-2016, 08:42 PM   #8
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Default Re: Sunflower seeds

Please don't take things out of your mix or replace them with other things CB.
You need a complete understanding of nutrition & diabetes which you don't yet have before you can even begin to think about that.

Carbs are very important, yes you do need sugar in the blood, this is how the body gets it's energy, the problem with diabetes is that blood sugar levels aren't controlled well so you need to keep the level as stable as possible, this is done through the use of slow release carbs (along with good levels of protein & fibre).
If you cut out carbs your ham will have to burn fat for energy which results in ketosis, high ketones in the urine being a sign of that & also another sign of diabetes, which is really bad for your ham.

By taking sunflower seeds out of your mix & replacing them with oats you will have increased the carb content of the diet which may be no bad thing but not knowing the GA of the mix now you can't know whether this is good or bad.

I agree that the only problem with sunflower seeds is the high fat content, these are good fats but should only be fed in moderation or the fat content of the diet becomes to high, if they're already in the mix then that's fine, it's additional sunflower seeds as treats that should only be fed in moderation.

I wouldn't worry about asking vets about diet, unless you do urine tests daily, even several times a day to monitor sugar levels then you have no idea what your ham may or may not need.

I would just stick to your mix which has a set GA & leave it at that.
I really can't emphasise enough that by making ad hoc changes without a well informed plan you could potentially do more harm than good.
I know you've read it before but why not go back & read the article Vectis has on her site for a bit of a recap on diabetes guidelines.
Vectis Hamstery and Exotics - Diabetes in Hamsters
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Last edited by cypher; 09-12-2016 at 02:09 AM.
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Old 09-12-2016, 02:13 AM   #9
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Default Re: Sunflower seeds

Which food are you using? Might be best to look at the overall nutritional values on the packet of mix. Agree I don't think sunflower seeds are an issue. They are not a raw form of sugar and are mostly healthy fat in terms of calories, as I understand it. It is true that carbs are converted into sugar by the body (in humans at least) but not the same as refined sugars - although the carb balance would need to be right I guess.

You could also supplement with other seeds that have healthy fats but low carbs - such as hemp seeds and linseeds (same as flax seeds). Pumpkin seeds are also high in healthy fats/calories. Hemp seeds apparently contain every form of vitamin and mineral so are a good supplement.

I can see your concern - hamsters love sunflower seeds and will always eat them out of a mix - I expect - and if your mix is high in them, you have concerns. What are the nutritional values on the mix and someone may be able to suggest additions to balance things out, or an alternative mix. Although I know you have looked hard at finding a good mix. Diabetes is a very complicated issue as well.
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Old 09-12-2016, 03:10 AM   #10
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Default Re: Sunflower seeds

I did just have a look at the vita garden mix again (I think you still use that with Mazuri blocks though I'm not sure what proportions you use) & sunflower seeds aren't too high on the list so there shouldn't be that many, don't forget smaller seeds usually fall to the bottom so I always give my mix a good stir before scooping some out to get a bit of everything!
Using those two foods you should be ok, the only thing is (for a diabetic ham) fibre could be a bit low but not by that much.
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