ecostore Australia Blog
One of the common concerns for people who have decided to incorporate more plant based foods into their diets is not getting enough protein. And that’s an important consideration given all the vital functions protein drives in our bodies.
For example, various proteins take the form of antibodies to fight infection, repair body tissue, give us energy and fat stores, catalyse chemical reactions for processes like digestion, or work with the nervous system to control muscle contraction.
Other proteins are used to oxygenate our blood and to give structure to our cells and organs. Hormones, meanwhile, drive processes like regulating our metabolism and allowing us to produce insulin.
If you want to maintain your protein levels on a low or no meat diet like vegan or vegetarian, there are lots of foods that offer protein sources. Here are some of them:
Grains and seeds
If you’re looking for a protein boost from grains or seeds, chia, quinoa and hemp are among the available options. Quinoa has been noted for its protein levels and the fact is contains all eight essential amino acids. Chia, meanwhile, can give us 6g of protein for every two tablespoons eaten, according to a Mayo Clinic article. Chia has a mild flavour, so is a good complement to other ingredients in desserts, salads or smoothies. Hemp seed is another valuable protein source, which is perhaps best known for belonging to the marijuana plant family. It’s also quite versatile, because it can be used in its natural state, as powder, or as milk. If you’re looking for other protein rich seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are others you might try.
Lentils, beans and chickpeas
Many legumes are also high in protein, and peas are a standout. Self Nutrition Data tells us they yield as much protein as a cup of milk. Beans such as kidney beans or black beans are also high in protein, while lentils and chickpeas are commonly recommended as a meat alternative when seeking protein. We can get 25g of protein per 100g serving of lentils, Nutrition Value says, while chickpeas offer 20g for the same serving size.
Nuts and nut butters
Whether you’re eating nuts on their own or made into a spread, nuts are a good source of protein and they contain fibre, healthy fats and calories. Nutritionists often recommend raw nuts because roasting them can damage nutrients, and if you’re buying nut butters, they commonly suggest avoiding the ones with higher levels of added sugar, salt and preservatives. There are many options for how you consume nut butters – either as a spread or in baking or smoothies.
Soybeans themselves – and soy milk – are two forms of soy-based protein, while edamame makes a great snack when boiled or steamed. You might also try tofu, which is made from the bean curd for a textural addition to different dishes. Tempeh is another rich source of plant based protein and is made by fermenting the soybeans.
If you have favourite plant based protein rich foods, why not share them in the comments below?
This article is not intended to substitute for medical advice. For dietary or nutritional conditions, consult your health professional.