PROTEIN - is not just a macronutrient necessary for building muscle; it serves many other important functions in the body as well.
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. Protein is essential for our immune system as it helps to create antibodies that are necessary to fight infections, and it also plays a critical role in metabolic functions 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. It is important to consume sufficient amounts of protein (good quality) on a daily basis, with a recommended intake of approximately 50-60 grams per day or 10-35% of energy. 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.
Historically, individuals focused on building muscle and improving physical fitness have prioritized protein-rich foods such as chicken, eggs, sprouts, pulses, legumes, paneer, and cheese as a key component of their diets. However, that wasn't wrong. One common misconception that needs to be corrected is the idea that it's impossible to consume sufficient protein on a plant-based or 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.
A fundamental aspect of veganism is adopting a diet based on plant-based foods and avoiding all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether for food, clothing, or other purposes. 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 its sources let's further roll on to the deeper side of the story.
15 PROTEIN RICH VEGAN FOODS AND ITS SOURCES
- 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. These foods are abundant in the essential amino acids that are necessary for proper bodily function, as well as a variety of essential minerals and vitamins, such as 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:
- Due to its neutral taste, tofu can easily blend in with the other flavors in a dish, making it a flexible ingredient that can be used in a variety of meals.
- In addition, edamame is high in folate, Vitamin K, and fibre, which aids in digestion.
- Tempeh is a good source of probiotics and also promotes weight loss!
Lentils usually have a low glycaemic index. Lentils, whether red, brown, or green, are packed with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients such as iron, folate, and potassium.
Adding lentils to your lunch or dinner routine is an easy way to increase your protein intake. These versatile legumes can be used in stews, curries, salads, or rice dishes to add a satisfying dose of protein to any meal.
- 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
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.
Consumption of CURD or YOGHURT, according to researchers was associated with a reduced risk of gastroenteritis. For those looking to boost their intake of probiotics, one of the most commonly consumed foods provides an excellent source. In particular, studies have shown that this food may be effective in preventing acute diarrhea in children aged 1-5 living in Indian urban slums.
- 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.
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. Quorn is a brand of mycoprotein that is sold and consumed in many countries, including the United States.
According to current dietary guidelines, mycoprotein is an excellent source of protein and fiber, while being low in fat, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium. Some studies suggest that incorporating mycoprotein into your diet can help maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels, support muscle growth, regulate glucose and insulin levels, and promote feelings of fullness.
- SEEDS AND NUTS
Protein rich 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.
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.
- 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
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 veggies, rice, soups could increase your protein intake every day.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What can vegans eat for protein?
A. Vegans can consume a variety of protein-rich plant-based foods such as legumes (beans, lentils, peas), nuts and seeds (almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds), soy products (tofu, tempeh, edamame), and whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats). The highest plant protein sources include soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa. Vegan protein can help with weight loss as it is low in saturated fats and high in fiber, which promotes satiety. Some protein-rich vegan fruits include avocado, guava, jackfruit, and dried apricots.
2. What is the highest plant protein source?
A. The highest plant protein sources include soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, seitan, quinoa, and spirulina. Soybeans, in particular, are a complete protein source, which means they contain all essential amino acids needed for our bodies to function properly.
3. Can vegan protein help lose weight?
A. Yes, vegan protein can help with weight loss as it is low in saturated fats and high in fiber, which promotes satiety. Protein also helps to build and maintain muscle, which can increase metabolism and aid in weight loss. Consuming a balanced diet that includes protein-rich plant-based foods can support a healthy weight loss journey.
4. What fruits are protein vegan?
A. While fruits are generally not high in protein, some protein-rich vegan fruits include avocado, guava, jackfruit, and dried apricots. Avocado, in particular, is a good source of healthy fats and contains approximately 2 grams of protein per fruit. However, it's important to remember that fruits should not be relied on as the main source of protein in a vegan diet, and it's essential to consume a variety of protein-rich plant-based foods to meet daily protein requirements.