Many experts agree that a well-planned meatless diet can provide you with all the nutrients you need, including protein. Here are 18 plant foods that contain a lot of protein per serving. In addition, studies suggest that vegan diets are more effective at helping people lose weight than many other diets, including the Mediterranean diet. Plant-based diets are also linked to several other health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, better regulated blood sugar levels and a healthier heart.
Because of this, several health organizations recommend increasing the amount of plant-based proteins in our diets. Poorly planned or highly processed vegan diets can also increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies, especially vitamin B12, iodine, iron, calcium, zinc and long-chain omega-3s. When it comes to plant-based proteins, there are nine essential amino acids that must be obtained from food. The remaining 11 are considered non-essential, since the body can produce them from the 9 essential amino acids.
Here are 18 of the best plant-based protein sources to help you meet your daily needs.
SeitanSeitan is a popular protein source for many vegetarians and vegans. Also known as wheat meat or wheat gluten, it contains approximately 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), making it one of the richest plant-based protein sources available. Seitan is also a good source of selenium and contains small amounts of iron, calcium and phosphorus. Seitan can be fried, sautéed and even grilled, making it easy to add to a variety of recipes.
However, because it contains wheat, people with gluten-related disorders should avoid eating seitan.
LentilsLentils are a great source of protein with 18 grams per cooked cup (198 grams). Lentils are also a great source of fiber, providing more than half of the recommended daily intake of fiber in a single cup (198 grams).
Hemp SeedsHalf an ounce (16 grams) of this complete source of plant-based protein provides 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Hemp seeds are also an excellent source of healthy fats and minerals like magnesium and zinc.
Nutritional YeastFortified nutritional yeast is also an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese and all the B vitamins, including vitamin B12.
Green PeasGreen peas contain almost 9 grams of protein per cooked cup (160 grams), which is equivalent to just over a cup (237 ml) of cow's milk. A two tablespoons (14 grams) serving provides 8 grams of complete protein, in addition to covering 22% of your daily iron needs and 95% of your daily copper needs.
SpirulinaSpirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is often sold in powder or tablet form.
According to some laboratory and animal studies, phycocyanin, a natural pigment found in spirulina, also appears to have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Soy Milk and TofuSoy milk and tofu are two popular sources of plant-based proteins. A cooked cup (164 grams) provides nearly 7 grams of protein plus healthy amounts of fiber, manganese, magnesium, copper phosphorus and B vitamins. However, keep in mind that soy milk and soy don't naturally contain vitamin B12, so I recommend choosing a fortified variety.
Chia SeedsWith 5 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams), chia seeds definitely deserve a spot on the list of the top plant-based proteins.
Sweet CornAlthough technically a grain, sweet corn is another common food that contains almost as much protein as these protein-rich vegetables.
MycoproteinMycoprotein is a type of fungus that is often used as an alternative to meat. Despite some safety concerns related to food allergies, research shows that reactions are very rare.
Protein Deficiencies Among Vegetarians and VegansProtein deficiencies among vegetarians and vegans are rare, especially among those who follow a well-planned healthy diet.
There are plenty of low-carb fast food options available for those who want to maintain their vegan lifestyle while eating out.
- Salads with grilled chicken or fish
- Veggie burgers without buns
- Vegetable sushi rolls without rice
- Taco salads without tortilla chips or shells
- Nuts and nut butters: These small nutritional sources contain about 3.5 grams of protein for every two tablespoons.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is what some people would call a “complete protein” since it has a lot of all the essential amino acids and 8 grams of protein per cup.
- Oatmeal: Like bread most people think only carbohydrates when they think oatmeal but whole rolled oats contain about 11 grams per cup.
- Broccoli: One cup cooked broccoli has nearly 4 grams of protein which is enough to be considered vegetarian.
- Lentils: While all beans contain a ton of plant-based proteins lentils top the list with approximately 18 grams per cup.
- Tofu: Try topping salads with tofu sprinkling nutritional yeast on popcorn or combining fresh fruit with nut butter to add some extra protein to your diet.
Benefits Of Plant Based ProteinsTo begin with vegans tend to have lower body mass indices (BMI) than non-vegans which may be associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases in some populations. This list can be used as a guide for anyone interested in incorporating more plant-based proteins into their diet. While peanut butter is a great source of healthy fats powdered peanut butter gives you more protein per calorie making it a great way to increase the plant-based protein content of your meals.
How Much Protein Do You Need?The Academy Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a minimum daily protein intake 0.8 g per kilogram body weight or about 60 g for person weighing 165 pounds. However some people may be interested in increasing their intake plant based proteins for variety reasons.
ConclusionAnimal products such as meat eggs and milk are naturally rich in protein which is an essential nutrient made up amino acids.
In addition studies suggest that vegan diets may be more effective at helping people lose weight than many other diets including Mediterranean diet. Plant based diets are also linked several other health benefits such as lower blood pressure better regulated blood sugar levels healthier heart. There plenty low carb fast food options available those who want maintain their vegan lifestyle while eating out. The right plant based proteins can help you meet your daily needs while providing numerous health benefits.