Best Sources of Vegetarian Protein
Protein is quintessential for a good diet and a healthy body. Naturally it has to be accompanied with a balanced intake of fibre, carbs and fats. Protein is widely available from eggs and meat and it’s the easiest to find in such sources. However, with vegan and vegetarian diets, the ideal intake of Protein is usually a struggle. A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they may lack sufficient protein. However, a well-planned meatless diet can provide all the nutrients you need, including protein. That said, certain plant foods contain significantly more protein than others, and new and older studies alike suggest that higher protein diets can promote muscle strength, feelings of fullness, and weight loss.
Soy group- Tofu, tempeh, and edamame all originate from soybeans. Soybeans are considered a whole source of protein. This means that they provide your body all the essential amino acids it needs. Edamame are immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled before you eat them. Then, they can be enjoyed on their own or added to soups and salads. Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheesemaking. Meanwhile, tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans, then pressing them into a block.
Lentils and beans- Lentils are also a great source of fiber, providing over half of your recommended daily fiber intake in a single cup (198 grams). Furthermore, the type of fiber found in lentils has been shown to feed the good bacteria in your colon, which can help promote a healthy gut. Kidney, black, pinto, and most other varieties of beans contain high amounts of protein per serving. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are another type of bean with a high protein content.
Quinoa and Amaranth- Although amaranth and quinoa are often referred to as ancient or gluten-free grains, they don’t grow from grasses like other cereal grains do. For this reason, they’re technically considered pseudocereals. Nevertheless, similarly to more commonly known grains, they can be prepared or ground into flours. Amaranth and quinoa provide 8–9 grams of protein per cooked cup (185 grams) and are complete sources of protein, which is uncommon among grains and pseudocereals.
Oats- Eating oats is an easy and delicious way to add protein to any diet. Half a cup of dry oats provides approximately 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Oats also contain magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and folate. Although oats are not considered a complete protein, they do contain higher quality protein than other commonly consumed grains like rice and wheat.
Vegetables-Although all fruits and vegetables contain protein, some contain more than others. Vegetables with the most protein include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts, which typically contain 4–5 grams of protein per cooked cup. Although technically a grain, sweet corn is another common food that contains about as much protein as these high protein vegetables.
Nuts- Nuts and seeds are also great sources of fiber and healthy fats, along with iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and certain B vitamins. They likewise contain antioxidants, among other beneficial plant compounds. When choosing which nuts and seeds to buy, keep in mind that blanching and roasting may damage the nutrients in nuts. Therefore, it’s best to reach for raw, unblanched versions whenever possible.
Protein deficiencies among vegetarians and vegans are uncommon, especially for those following a healthy, well-planned diet. Still, some people may be interested in increasing their plant protein intake for a variety of reasons. This list can be used as a guide for anyone interested in incorporating more plant-based proteins into their diet.