Many nutrients that our bodies require are characterised as being present in plant-based diets. However, many people also see it as a diet that deprives our bodies of the protein that comes from consuming meat. The suggested daily intake of protein is 0,8 grams (g) per kilogram of body weight, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Contrary to popular belief, health professionals claim that if you choose a purely plant-based diet, you can still get all the protein you require because there are excellent sources of protein from plant-based crops!
Your protein will always be enough in your body even with your plant-based diet as you go for the inclusion of these top 10 sources of plant-based proteins:
1. Lentils (up to 9g of protein per 100 grams of boiled lentils)
Often characterised by their colour as they come in yellow, green, red, brown and black, lentils have a wide variety of nutrients. Being made up of more than 25% protein, they’re the perfect replacement for meat. Another benefit of lentils is that it’s a great source of iron, a mineral that people who are on a vegetarian diet could be short of. Lentils are a staple in many of our recipes and we love to use it to create a delicious Bolognese sauce.
2. Chickpeas (9g of protein per 100 grams of boiled chickpeas)
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are legumes that are a complete protein as they contain all nine essential acids. Aside from that they’re packed with vitamins and minerals and provide many health benefits. Whether we roast them, blend them to a hummus or simply use them straight from the jar, we love to add chickpeas to our recipes in any form or shape.
3. Hemp Seeds (9,5g of protein per 1 serving / 3 tablespoons)
Diet experts say that 3 tablespoons of these tiny seeds provide almost 10 grams of protein and all nine essential amino acids. These acids are the building blocks for protein and essential as your body doesn’t produce them. They have to be taken in through a diet. Due to their high nutritional value, many people consider hemp seeds as a super food. A great way to include hemp seeds in your diet is by adding it to your cereal in the morning or smoothie.
4. Tofu (17g of protein per 100 grams)
Tofu is made from condensed soy milk which is pressed into firm white blocks. It is relatively low in calories but high in protein and fat. Soy, as the main component of tofu, is a complete protein because it contains all nine necessary amino acids, just like hemp seeds do. Tofu is a very versatile meat alternative that should be high on your list. We like to marinate it, batter it, or use it as a base for a vegan egg.
5. Nuts (5,9g of protein per ¼ cup of mixed nuts)
Whether you prefer almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts or pistachios, nuts are a fantastic protein source to add to your meal. In our recipes we often use them as a topping for salads, pasta or rice dishes, but they also go very well as a snack. They’re super versatile and give your meal a nice and crunchy touch. Did you know that a serving of pistachio nuts contains as much protein as an egg?
6. Quinoa (8g protein per 1 cup / 185 grams of cooked quinoa)
Often seen in white, red and black variants, quinoa is a whole grain that offers a wide range of health benefits. It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa can be used instead of rice in any recipe and is a great gluten-free alternative for coeliacs. It has an interesting nutty taste and is very versatile. We often use it as a base for both cold and warm salads, but also for plant-based burgers.
7. Nutritional yeast (8g of protein per serving / 2 tablespoons)
Many vegans are crazy about the cheese-like umami flavour the nutritional yeast provides. But aside from its flavour, there are numerous reasons why non-vegans should give nutritional yeast a try. It's loaded with protein, glutathione, and B vitamins. In addition to that, it doesn't include any artificial flavours or ingredients, dairy, sugar, or gluten. It’s often used in combination with cashew nuts to make a vegan cheese, to replace the parmesan in your pasta dish or to stir into your soup.
8. Tempeh (19g of protein per 100g)
Another high-protein soy food that works well as a meat substitute is tempeh. It’s made from fermented soy beans and considered to be slightly healthier than tofu as it’s less processed. The high protein content will make you feel full quicker and can eventually lead to weight loss. Tempeh marinates and seasons very well and can either be baked or sautéed to complement a wide variety of dishes.
9. Black beans (9g protein per 100 grams of cooked black beans)
There are almost 20 different varieties of beans, some of them are black beans, navy beans, cranberry beans, kidney beans, etc. According to diet experts, each one provides crucial nutrients. A diet expert describes them as "nutritional powerhouses" because of their abundance of protein, fibre, folate, magnesium, and iron. Beans go well with salads, stir-fries, soups, and stews. Give it a try!
10. Peanut butter (8g protein per serving / 2 tablespoons)
Who doesn’t love peanuts, especially when they’re turned into a spread? This beloved childhood food is tasty and a reliable source of high-quality plant-based protein. Just make sure to choose healthy types and watch your portion sizes because the portion in question has a whopping 180 calories. It may easily go from a healthy protein source to an irresistible delight if you eat too much of it!
It's clear that protein is not just found in animal products like meat, but can be found in many plant-based products. The answer on the question if you can get enough protein while following a plant-based diet is YES. But of course, it’s important to follow a varied diet to get the required range of amino acids. Animal products are complete proteins and offer all nine amino acids that we need to get from food. As you have read in the overview above, some plant products like quinoa and soy beans are also complete proteins. While others are still missing some of the protein building blocks. It’s all about choosing your products wisely and being aware of your own food intake!
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