If you’re someone who is planning to become a vegan soon or just wants to eat healthy, then you need to know these plant protein sources. Breaking all the misconceptions and myths about plant based sources of protein in this blog.
What are plant protein sources?
Protein that we get from plant sources is called plant protein. So how are plant proteins different from animal proteins? The amino acid profile varies between plant and animal protein sources.
Experts believe that plant protein sources do not provide complete protein. Thus, they need to be combined with other foods to provide the nine essential amino acids that the human body needs for proper functioning. Usually plant-based protein sources lack one or more of the essential amino acid that is needed by the body. They are usually low in methionine, tryptophan, lycine and isoleucine.
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It is important to know that your body is designed to mix and match the nine essential amino acids you need from different plant sources. So you can easily combine these plant protein sources to prepare a healthy recipe rich in protein and other nutrients. Lowering animal protein in your diet can significantly reduce the risk of heart diseases, lesser chances of obesity, reduced risk of diabetes, better bone health etc.
An increasing number of people are switching to all plant protein powder. It’ll provide the daily requirement of protein from plant sources. You must talk to your doctor before taking any plant protein powder.
Read on and find the 10 best sources of plant protein you should know about.
Lentils are one of the most popular types of plant protein. Lentils are rich in fiber and carbohydrates as well. Cook them with a variety of spices and relish them with rice or quinoa for a healthy hearty meal. You can include split green peas in the category of lentils.
1 cup cooked lentils provides about 18g protein, whereas 1 cup green peas give 8g protein. You can add lentils to soups, make a lentil broth, use them to make vegetarian burger patty and a lot more.
2. Chia seeds
Chia seeds have gained a lot of popularity in the recent times. The little black seeds are a rich source of protein. They are also a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of plant based omega-3 fatty acid. About 2tbsp chia seeds would provide 4g of protein.
They are a concentrated source of fiber, antioxidants, and calcium. Some of the most talked about health benefits of chia seeds include –
- Reducing cholesterol
- Lowering blood pressure
- Boosts energy and metabolism
- Helps treats diabetes
- Gives stronger bones
Chia seeds have a unique property to absorb water and turn into gel-like substance because of the soluble fiber content. You can add them to meals to thicken them and boost the fiber, protein, and healthy fat content in the dish.
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It is rightly said that you should include a handful of nuts in your daily diet. Nuts like cashews, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios are a rich source of protein, minerals, vitamin E, and healthy fats. About ¼ cup of nuts will give 7-8 g of proteins. Cashews contain about 20% of the recommended intake of magnesium and 12% recommended intake of Vitamin K.
Sprinkle a few nuts in salads, add them to cereals, or make energy bars with them. You can also grind then coarsely and add them to smoothies and give your body a healthy boost.
Many people wouldn’t think of broccoli as a source of protein. But you’ll be surprised to know that broccoli is a great source of plant based protein. It is low on calories and high on fiber, thus, making it the perfect power packed food.
You’ll get 2g of protein from ½ cup cooked broccoli. To get most nutrients from broccoli, make sure you always blanch it before eating. Add it to pasta recipes, make healthy soups, or fulfilling salads with broccoli and other favorite ingredients.
5. Hemp seeds
For the longest time the nutritional benefits of hemp seeds were overlooked because of its botanical relationship with cannabis. Hemp is a variety of cannabis plant. But hemp does not cause any psychotropic reactions.
Hemp seeds are a rich source of protein. If you’re looking to increase your protein intake from natural plant based protein, then hemp seeds are one of the best option.
Some of the most common benefits of hemp seeds are listed below.
- It is a natural appetite suppressant, thus, helps in weight loss.
- Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil can be helpful in relieving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
- It is high in fiber and is great for digestive health.
- Hemp seeds help to strengthen the immune system and naturally balance inflammation levels in the body.
- It benefits the skin and hair, especially improving dry flaky skin. It is commonly used in hand creams, lip balms, and body lotions.
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Quinoa is a great wheat free (gluten free) plant protein source. It has twice the protein content of rice or barley. It also has high content of manganese, calcium, and magnesium. Quinoa is considered to be a starchy protein because it has protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. ½ cup cooked quinoa will provide 7-9g of protein.
The slightly nutty taste makes it ideal for breakfast. You can cook it with vegetables and have it as a healthy salad for lunch. It also has good levels of vitamin E, dietary fiber, and B vitamins. Upon cooking, quinoa becomes soft and fluffy, yet there remains a slight crunch.
7. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a powerhouse of goodness. If you add them to your smoothies, salads or bowl of cereal in breakfast, you’ll be benefiting a lot. They are high in antioxidants, improve prostate and bladder health, can lower blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of certain cancers as well.
They are a rich source of plant protein. Pumpkin seeds would also pack about half the recommended intake of magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and immune-boosting zinc.
When talking about healthy eating, a lot of people stay away from potatoes. But do you know that potatoes are a rich source of Vitamin C, manganese, and phosphorus? It is also a fairly good plant protein. You get 4g protein in 1 medium potato, which is about 20% of your daily requirement.
So the next time you crave potatoes make sure you bake them. Baked potato recipes are tasty and of course a healthier option as well.
Spirulina is one of the best sources of plant protein. It is, in fact, one of the few plant-based proteins that is mostly protein by dry weight (about 70%). The taste has a blend of sweet and nutty flavors, something like vanilla and chocolate.
2tbsp spirulina will give you 8g protein. The deep bluish green color is a fascinating feature. Add it to a smoothie to turn it into a glorious green smoothie.
Apart from being a rich source of protein, it has various other health benefits like –
- Detoxifies heavy metals
- Lowers chances of stroke
- Helps prevent cancer
- Reduces cholesterol
- Lowers blood pressure
- Aids in weight loss
- Boosts energy
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Spinach is considered to be one of the healthiest green leafy vegetables. It is full of iron and is an excellent source of vitamins. It is also high in dietary fiber.
It may not have the highest content of protein, but cooking this green leafy vegetable is the secret to up the protein value. You can cook it and add it to your favorite pasta, make a healthy salad with other veggies (or animal protein sources if you like), or even a hearty delicious spinach soup.
Hoping this list was helpful and now you can include various plant-based protein sources in your diet. Apart from including these foods, you can also take plant protein powder. It would help with compensating for protein intake and give you all the benefits of plant based protein.