A healthy diet can reduce your risk for nutritional deficiencies and for chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. You may want to consider adding sprouts to your meals. Alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts, such as navy, kidney or pinto bean sprouts, both have benefits, and each kind can play a role in improving your diet. Eat sprouts as part of a balanced diet with a variety of other nutritious foods for the most health benefits.
Calories and Carbohydrates
Each cup of raw bean sprouts provides about 53 to 70 calories, and alfalfa sprouts have 8 calories per cup. Their low calorie density means that you can use alfalfa sprouts to help you lose weight or prevent weight gain. Add them to salads or sandwiches to increase the volume so you can fill up without going over your calorie limit. Bean sprouts have 7 to 13 g carbohydrates, with about 2.5 to 5 g fiber, and alfalfa sprouts have less than 1 g total carbohydrates, with almost all of it from fiber.
Protein and Fat
Alfalfa sprouts provide 1 g protein per cup, and bean sprouts have 6 to 8 g protein. Because they are so high in protein, you can use bean sprouts as alternatives to meat. You may reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease when you substitute plant-based sources of protein for fatty meats, according to MayoClinic.org. Bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts are both low in total fat and saturated fat, with less than 1 g of each, and they are cholesterol free.
Vitamins and Water
Bean sprouts are good sources of B vitamins, such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid, which is essential for preventing neural tube birth defects. Alfalfa sprouts are not rich in these vitamins. Bean sprouts provide 20 mg vitamin C, or about one-third of the daily value, while alfalfa sprouts have almost none of this antioxidant vitamin. Water is an essential nutrient for staying hydrated and allowing your body to function properly, and alfalfa sprouts are 92 percent water, while bean sprouts are 79 percent water.
Each cup of navy or kidney bean sprouts provides 1.5 to 2 mg iron, compared to less than 0.5 g in a cup of alfalfa sprouts. The daily value for iron is 18 mg. Bean sprouts are high in potassium, with more than 300 mg per serving, and alfalfa sprouts have 26 mg potassium. Both kinds of sprouts are nearly sodium-free. A high-potassium, low-sodium diet can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure and lower your risk for stroke and kidney disease, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.