PROTEIN - is it just a macronutrient needed for muscle building or is it something beyond building muscular strength? Well competently, role of protein is farther on than just body building and weight gaining.

Why is Vegan Protein Important For You?

Proteins are vital to any living organisms. Protein is an integral part of human nutrition which makes up about 17% of the body’s weight and it is the main component of our muscles and other tissues like skin, internal organs, especially the heart and brain, including our eyes, hair and nails. It is also an important constituent of the vital body fluid like blood. Our immune system also requires protein to help make antibodies that are required to help fight infections, and protein also plays a vital role in metabolic processes like blood sugar regulation, fat metabolism and energy function and also plays a major role in formation of enzymes and hormones and functioning of the wear and tear of the muscles in the body. Thus, it is very important for the sustenance of life.  Adequate protein (good quality) should be consumed daily. 10-35% of energy, approximately, 50-60 grams of protein per day is recommended. A sedentary lifestyle living person should consume 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kg of body weight depending on an individual’s body requirements.

Earlier, we've had always heard about gym freaks and muscle maniacs to be talking about chicken, eggs, sprouts, pulses and legumes along with paneer and cheese to be the central part of their diet to make sure their body is able to meet its requirements. However, that wasn't wrong. But, the misconception that needs to be cleared is "you can't get enough protein on a plant-based or a vegan diet".  As that’s not really true! You can definitely get sufficient amounts of protein by including vegan protein foods in your diet. There are innumerable plant protein sources which contains many of the essential amino acids in it.

Veganism is an adoption of a plant-based diet and avoiding all forms of exploitation of, and causing cruelty to animals for any purpose, be it food, clothing or anything else. Have you ever wondered what's so popular about veganism and vegan diets these days and why is it trending? To point down the benefits of eating vegan protein foods and it’s sources let's further roll on to the deeper side of the story.

15 PROTEIN RICH VEGAN FOODS AND ITS SOURCES

  1. TOFU, TEMPEH & EDAMAME

Soy foods since a long time have been recognized as sources of high-quality protein and healthy fat, but over the past 25 years these have been conscientiously investigated for their role in chronic disease prevention and treatment.

Soybeans are known to be a complete protein source. Tempeh, edamame and tofu are the by-products of soybean which generally contains 15-20 grams of protein in every 100 grams serving. These are the richest vegan protein foods. They contain all the essential amino acids that your body needs and is rich in minerals and vitamins, including calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin A. These soy foods are also a primary source of isoflavones with many health benefits. Here are their distinct characteristics:

  • Tofu takes on the flavor of the dish it is prepared in so that it can be a versatile addition to a meal.
  • In addition, edamame is high in folate, Vitamin K, and fibre, which aids in digestion.
  • Tempeh is a good source of probiotics.

And all of these could also promote weight loss!

  1. LENTILS

Lentils usually have a low glycaemic index. Red, brown or green lentils consists good amounts of protein, fiber, and key nutrients, including iron, folate and potassium.

Lentils are a great source of protein to add to a lunch or dinner routine. They can be added to stews, curries, salads, or rice to give an extra portion of protein.

  • It helps in lowering cholesterol levels as they are known as heart friendly
  • Supports the digestive system.
  • Reduces risk of certain chronic diseases
  • It helps in managing blood sugar levels

Also Read: Benefits of Plant Protein

  1. PEANUTS

Peanuts is one of the most highest protein vegan foods which has more protein than any other nuts (7 gms per serving) with more than 30 essential vitamins and minerals along with good fats and a source of fibre.  It has many health benefits.

  • Vitamin E, the dietary antioxidant helps to protect cells from oxidative stress.
  • Magnesium for muscle functioning along with heart, enzyme function and energy production.
  • Folate for cell division
  • Copper red blood cell formation
  • Phosphorus for the formation of teeth and bones, cell growth and muscle function.
  1. YOGURT

Consumption of CURD or YOGHURT, according to researchers was associated with a reduced risk of gastroenteritis.  It is one of the most consumed food product for including probiotics in the diet. Children aged 1–5 years in an urban slum in India found that probiotics could help to prevent acute diarrhea.

  1. PROTEIN RICH VEGETABLES

Green peas, artichokes, sweet corn, avocado, asparagus, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, kale are some protein rich vegan foods that can be included in the diet.

  1. MYCOPROTEIN

Mycoprotein is an incredibly versatile alternative to meat and a nutritious protein source with a meat-like texture made from Fusarium venenatum which is a naturally occurring fungus. Mycoprotein is sold as Quorn and is consumed in 17 countries which includes the United States as well. 

In accordance to the current dietary guidelines, mycoprotein is high in protein and fiber, and low in fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium. Mycoprotein helps in maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels, promote muscle synthesis, control glucose and insulin levels, and increase satiety.

  1. SEEDS AND NUTS

Nuts and seeds are great vegan source of protein, healthy fats, fibres, vitamins and minerals. Nuts and seeds regulates the body weight as their fats are not fully absorbed, they regulate the intake of food which indirectly burns energy. It is recommended to take 30 grams on most days of the week for adults as a healthy regime.

  1. QUINOA

This vegan protein food is naturally gluten free which is great fit for celiac disease. One cup of cooked quinoa provides about 8 grams of protein (even more than an egg) and 5 grams of fibre. It is also a complete protein, meaning, it has all the nine essential amino acids.

  1. HEMP SEEDS

Surprisingly, hemp seeds have highest protein among seeds. 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds offers 9.46 grams of protein. This protein rich vegan food is also a complete protein which is good for your heart, skin, digestive health, and full of vitamins and minerals.

You can incorporate hemp seeds in several ways:

  • Add them to smoothies
  • Mix them in oatmeal
  • Turn hemp seeds into hemp milk
  • Put them in homemade salad dressings
  1. POTATOES

Potato protein is recognized as one of the most valuable non-animal, vegan protein source due to the high content of essential amino acids. Recent research has found that consuming potato protein isolate can help in speeding up the rate at which your muscles make new protein.

  1. BEANS WITH RICE

Legumes, grains and vegetables are called ‘incomplete proteins’ as they lack one or more of the essential amino acids needed for growth and development. To enhance the quality of the proteins, one needs to combine certain food choices. For instance, rice with black beans or rice with any other dal, quinoa along with corn, whole wheat bread with peanut butter, etc.

  1. SEITAN

The name Seitan, is a much more recent development. But the product itself has been around for centuries. It is made from wheat and surprisingly looks similar to the texture of meat when it’s cooked. It has become a popular meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans.

  1. EZEKIEL BREAD

The wonder bread, Ezekiel bread might be a healthier choice for you rather than your current go-to loaf of bread. It is a type of sprouted grain bread prepared using traditional methods of soaking, sprouting and baking. For good reasons, this protein rich vegan food is made using sprouted whole grains, legumes and sometimes seeds.

  1. SPIRULINA

Spirulina is a kind of blue green algae that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and antioxidants that can help in protecting cells from damage. It is used in protein supplements where amino acids makes up 62% of Spirulina as a nutritional supplement.

  1. GREEN PEAS

Rightly said, “Green Protein makes healthy eating seem like a cool choice and not a dreary compulsion.” Just a simple way of adding green peas to your veges, rice, soups could increase your protein intake every day.