Sunflowers are arguably one of the most recognizable flowers on the planet, and most of us have enjoyed a handful of sunflower seeds at a baseball game or sprinkled over a salad. But you might not know that they’re also an increasingly popular alternative for peanut butters or tree nuts. And while they may have originally gained popularity in the allergen-friendly world, sunflower seed butter is quickly rising in the ranks thanks to its mild flavor yet delicious flavor, and interesting health benefits. But can babies eat sunflower seed butter? Here’s what you need to know about feeding your baby or toddler sunflower seed butter.
WHAT IS SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER?
You might be surprised to learn that sunflower seed butter is not all that different from the peanutty spread you’ve probably been slathering on toast since you were a kid yourself. Made by grinding sunflower seeds into a paste using a blender or food processor, sunflower seed butter has a similar consistency to other nut butters with the mild, savory taste you can expect from sunflower seeds. It’s typically made with a dash of salt and sometimes flavored with powdered sugar or honey, though it is delicious without both of these options as well.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER?
Like coconut butter and many other nut butters, sunflower seed butter is a great source of unsaturated fats. In fact, just one tablespoon of sunbutter has 9 grams of fat your body can use to fight inflammation and lower cholesterol—and sunflower seeds actually have more unsaturated fat than peanuts. Smooth move, sunflowers.
And Vitamin E can help
Think of Vitamin E as Robin to fat’s Batman. All those grams of fat get an assist from sunflower seed butter’s vitamin E, which protects essential fats from free radicals. The antioxidant enables fats to reduce cell damage, increase immunity against infections and diseases, and fight inflammation more effectively.
Major source of magnesium
While you don’t hear about magnesium as much as many other important nutrients, it’s key for bodily functions like energy production, nerve impulses, heart and digestive health, and even sleep quality. One tablespoon of sunflower butter contains 12 percent of the daily recommended allotment of magnesium, which supports healthy heart rhythm, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and help fight insomnia. (No guarantees it will get your tiny human to nap, but it can’t hurt!)
Each serving of sunflower seed butter packs about three grams of protein, making it a filling snack with major benefits. That’s because protein not only helps you feel fuller longer, it also revs your metabolism and provides your body with the fuel it needs to function.
CAN BABIES EAT SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER?
Yes! Besides its impressive health benefits, sunflower seed butter can be a great alternative for children with a nut allergy as it is peanut free and generally a low-allergen food. If you have any concerns about a food allergy, consult your pediatrician before giving sunflower seed butter to your baby.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO FEED SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER TO MY BABY?
In general, sunflower seed butter can be substituted anywhere you would typically use peanut butter. For babies, add a dab to purees for a creamy, protein boost. (Note: Thick nut butters can pose a choking hazard for small children, so consider pairing seed butter with a fruit or a little water or breast milk to thin out the puree.) We also love adding it to savory sauces for a rich flavor, blending into smoothies, or spreading on crackers or vegetables once your toddler is ready for more crunch. One of our favorite sun butter combinations is sun butter + blueberry + zucchini + cinnamon + hemp seeds. It also makes a great dipping sauce, so serve a dish of sunflower butter with some celery or carrots and let your tiny human scoop it up.HAT