It may be best known for the beautiful bloom of its flower, but the sunflower is also a source of food. If you've enjoyed eating its seed and using its oil, you may want to consider giving sunflower sprouts a try. These nutritious sprouts are a good source of healthy fats, fiber, protein and iron, but they are a concentrated source of calories. Knowing the nutrition for sunflower sprouts can help you determine how they fit your into healthy meal plan.
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Concentrated Source of Calories
Like the seed from which it sprouts, sunflower sprouts are high in calories. A 1/4-cup serving of sunflower sprouts contains 190 calories, while the same serving of the seed kernels contains 204 calories. Eating more calories than you burn leads to weight gain. Many Americans already eat more calories than they need, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.
Macronutrients: Carbs, Fat and Protein
Most of the calories in sunflower sprouts comes from its fat content, which is why it is such a concentrated source of calories. A 1/4-cup serving of the sprouts contains 16 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 8 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 6 grams of monounsaturated fat, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. While sunflower sprouts are high in fat, they contain mostly healthy unsaturated fats. Eating more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fat may help keep your cholesterol level in check, according to the American Heart Association.
Calcium and Iron
Sunflower sprouts are a good source of iron and can help you meet your daily calcium needs. A 1/4-cup serving meets 8 percent of the daily value for iron -- 1.4 milligrams -- and 2 percent of the daily value for calcium -- 20 milligrams. Both iron and calcium are nutrients of concern. Many women of childbearing age as well as adolescent girls are iron-deficient, says the Dietary Guidelines 2010, and including sunflower sprouts in their diet may help up their intake.
Watch the Sodium
Some brands of sunflower sprouts may contain added salt, which increases its sodium content. The American diet is already high in sodium, according to the Dietary Guidelines. Too much sodium in your diet increases your risk of high blood pressure. Read labels, and look for sunflower sprouts without added salt. Ideally, you should limit your overall sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day, or less than 1,500 milligrams if you already have high blood pressure, are over the age of 50 or are of African American descent.
- National Sunflower Association: All About Sunflower
- Global Healing Center: Go Raw 100% Organic Sprouts Sunflower Seeds: Nutrition Facts
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Seed, Sunflower Seed Kernels, Dried
- U.S. Department of Agriculture &amp; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients)