Plant-based foods can be excellent source of protein and provide numerous health benefits, like having a lower calorie count, being a good source of fiber and decreasing risks of high cholesterol.
Between working, running errands, taking kids to practices, cooking, cleaning and exercising, you’re a hard-working machine. You live a very busy, but a very good, life. But, that life wouldn’t be possible without protein.
Protein repairs and rebuilds your muscles, organs and skin. It’s found in every living cell inside your body. Your body allows you to complete everything on your daily to-do list, while also performing thousands of other daily tasks you don’t even realize. But none of that is possible without consuming protein.
And while some of us have been led to believe our whole lives that the only way to consume this essential nutrient is through animal-based foods, it’s not. Plant-based foods can be excellent source of protein and provide numerous health benefits, like having a lower calorie count, being a good source of fiber and decreasing risks of high cholesterol.
So no matter what diet you follow, here are 8 plant proteins you should start incorporating into your diet.
1. Chia Seeds
Small yet mighty is a simple phrase that sums up organic chia seeds. These tiny seeds are packed with several needed nutrients, including calcium, iron, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. In 1 tablespoon, you receive 3g of protein. They’re also a great natural thickening agent. Use them to make a healthy chia pudding, or sprinkle some into a protein smoothie for a refreshing and energizing post-workout treat.
2. Hemp Seeds
While some may immediately think of cannabis when they hear the word hemp, I assure you in this case hemp seeds do nothing but bring nutritional value to your diet. They contain all nine essential amino acids, and are a seed that’s rich in minerals, vitamins and protein (http://www.finola.fi/Hempseed%20Nutrition.pdf). Just 2 Tbsp. of hemp seeds has 6g of protein. Hemp seeds are also a good source of magnesium, and provide a 1:3 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Bake them into muffins or add them on top of cereals and salads for a delicious and nutritious boost!
Legumes, i.e. beans, lentils, green peas, chickpeas and more, are widely available and cheap to buy. They’re also a nutrient-dense food that’s light in the calorie department. They’re filled with fiber—so they help keep you filled—as well as a good source of iron, calcium and of course, protein. In 1 oz. of lentils you get 3g of protein, and 2g of protein in the same serving of chickpeas. While legumes are considered an incomplete protein because they don’t contain all nine essential amino acids, pair them with wheat, rice or another plant protein and you’ve got yourself a complete protein snack or meal.
Cashews, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, etc., aren’t only tasty, they’re rich in minerals, healthy fats and protein. Almonds are high in calcium and fiber, walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and peanuts are the highest in protein count (https://www.uhc.com/health-and-wellness/nutrition/power-of-plant-protein). You receive 7g of protein in a 1 oz. serving of peanuts, and 38g in 1 cup (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4355/2)! Sprinkle a handful of nuts on top of your salads or oatmeal for a nice added crunch and protein boost. Not just that, Harvard studies have found that people who eat nuts every day live longer, healthier lives compared to those who don’t.
Organic quinoa isn’t just a low fat, gluten-free rice substitute; it provides antioxidants that boost your immune system and is a complete protein. One cup of organic quinoa delivers 24g of protein, as well as 12g of fiber and more than 900mg of potassium. It’s become the most-known super grain as of late, thanks to its nutritional value and because it’s so easy to toss into numerous foods, like salads, soups and even baked goods.
Although it’s in its name, buckwheat isn’t an actual type of wheat. It’s a seed from a plant that’s related to rhubarb, making it gluten-free and safe for those who have celiac disease or any kind of gluten sensitivity (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-christianson/buckwheat_b_7754674.html). You consume 4g of protein with each ounce of buckwheat you eat, and a study found that enriched bread (bread with whole grains such as buckwheat) resulted in a lower blood glucose level than other breads. You can eat it in Japanese soba noodles, grind it into flour or as “groats,” which is like oatmeal.
Spirulina, a blue-green member of the algae family, is a fantastic source of protein. It contains 60% protein by weight, and you get 4g of protein in just 1 Tbsp. of dried spirulina. But that’s not all. One study found spirulina enhances endurance, while another study showed spirulina supplementation helps increase muscle strength. To most, it’s an acquired taste, but combine it with the right ingredients and it’ll balance out perfectly. Many like to blend it into a tropical green smoothie.
Soy is one the few plant-based proteins that’s a complete source of protein. When you consume 1 cup of soybeans, you get 29g of protein, while soy-based meat alternative tofu has 10g of protein in a ½ cup and tasty green snack edamame has 17g of protein in 1 cup. Vegetarians have long turned to soy for their source of protein, and you should, too. There are a variety of soy-containing foods to choose from and ways to cook them to get needed protein and the essential amino acids your body can’t produce on its own.
Another great and convenient way to intake daily protein is consuming plant protein powder. And for a natural plant protein powder that doesn’t leave any kind of aftertaste and can be added to almost any recipe, try LIVfit SuperfoodⓇ Organic Plant Protein.