Protein is an essential component of every cell in your body. Your nails and hair are mostly made of protein and the body uses this nutrient to build and repair tissues. Basically, protein is vital for overall health and wellbeing. The most common sources of this nutrient are animal-based, which isn’t practical if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. To make sure you still get this much-needed nutrient, this post will feature best sources that every vegetarian or vegan should be aware of.
Thanks to high-protein content, it comes as no wonder why soy is a go-to plant-based source of this nutrient. Let’s take soybeans as an example; one cup of cooked soybeans contains 28.6g of protein while roasted soybeans have 35.2g. Moreover, firm tofu has 10 grams of protein per ½ cup serving while tempeh delivers 15 grams of protein per ½ cup just like natto.
Soybean is a rich source of numerous nutrients and it is well-known for its ability to help prevent breast and prostate cancer. Phytoestrogens in soy help menopausal women alleviate symptoms they experience and it is a little-known fact that intake of soy can improve bone health as well.
Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains in the world; it has been around for centuries. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, but it also delivers many other nutrients such as fiber, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, folate, copper, iron, just to name a few.
Bearing in mind that a third of US adults want to minimize gluten intake due to the intolerance or because they want to have a healthier lifestyle, quinoa is the perfect solution because it is gluten-free. Quinoa is versatile and it is easy to incorporate it into your diet and above all, it may help you maintain weight in a healthy range.
Buckwheat is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds and it could be one of the healthiest foods that most people never eat. One cup for cooked buckwheat contains 6 grams of protein, which is excellent for a plant-based source of this vital nutrient. Buckwheat is also a great source of fiber, Vitamin B6, magnesium, and iron.
Besides protein content, reasons to include buckwheat into your diet are numerous including improved blood sugar control and better heart health.
4. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are becoming increasingly popular nowadays and for a good reason, they provide a multitude of health benefits. Although the protein content is modest, 4 grams per 2-tablespoon serving, they still pose a wonderful addition to your diet. For instance, chia seeds contain more fiber than nuts or flax seeds and they are rich in iron, zinc, calcium, and antioxidants.
Thanks to protein and fiber content they are effective for weight loss and management and they are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Since the best sources of Omega-3 are fish and seafood, then you have another reason to eat these lovely seeds.
5. Ezekiel bread
Ezekiel bread is, basically, sprouted grain bread that is made with traditional methods including soaking, sprouting, and baking. Two slices of this bread contain 8 grams of protein. Nutritionists call it the healthiest bread because it is easy to digest and sprouted grains increase its fiber and vitamin content.
While you can find Ezekiel bread in certain stores, there are numerous recipes online that you can use to make it yourself. Homemade bread is even better.
6. Green peas
Green peas are quite popular and very nutritious. A ½ cup of green peas contains 4 grams of protein, meaning you can get 8 grams for a whole cup, which is the same amount found in a glass of milk.
This versatile vegetable is abundant in fiber, vitamins A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, and minerals like iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Green peas support healthy blood sugar control, may improve digestion, and they could be protective against chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Beans belong to the legume family and back in time they were referred to as the poor man’s meat. There are different types of beans and each of them has a different nutritional status. But for your reference, one cup of pinto beans delivers 15 grams of protein while kidney beans deliver 15.3 grams. On the other hand, canned kidney beans contain 5.2 grams of protein. Thanks to high-fiber content and appetite-suppressing properties, beans aid in weight management, but they also promote heart health, and help fight type 2 diabetes.
Vegans and vegetarians have a plethora of protein sources to make sure their body gets this important nutrient in order to function properly. The best thing of all, all these sources of protein are both healthy and versatile.