Eating plant-based, doesn’t have to mean protein-deficient, despite what some people may think. There are many ways to get enough protein on a vegan diet. There are a lot of foods that serve as amazing protein sources for vegans.The word protein comes from the Greek word proteios, which means “of prime importance“. According to Dr T. Colin Campbell, Authour of ” China Study” – he concludes that “low-quality” plant protein, which allows for slow but steady synthesis of new proteins, is the healthiest type of protein.
Several studies have now shown that consuming animal-based protein increases blood cholesterol levels. In contrast, plant-based foods contain no cholesterol and, in various other ways, helps to decrease the amount of cholesterol made by the body. Times are changing and veganism is fast rising because people are beginning to embrace a “life-changing” healthier whole food plant-based lifestyle. People are choosing plant protein over animal protein because an increase in plant protein intake of only 2 percent was associated with 23 percent decreased cancer risk. Plant-based proteins are a healthy sustainable way to get your nutrition. Vegans have a wide variety of plant proteins to choose from, but here are 8 amazing sources of plant-based proteins vegans should try out.
Nutritional yeast is a pale yellow, inactive, power house yeast that contains an abundance of protein, all the nine essential amino acids, antioxidants, zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese and B complex vitamins. It has a cheesy taste and it’s often used as a nutritional supplement and flavouring by vegans due to its high protein content and selection of B-Vitamins. Many brands are fortified with essential nutrients and vitamin B-12. You can enjoy nutritional yeast in dressings, sauces, pasta or sprinkled on a bowl of popcorn for a nutty flavour. (¼ cup) per serving contains 60 calories, 0.5 grams of fat (0 gram saturated ), 5 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of protein and 25mg of sodium.
Quinoa is an ancient whole grain with a high protein content and dietary fiber. It has a crunchy and nutty flavour when cooked.It’s one of the few plant-based foods that contains all the nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is a “rice substitute” gluten free grain that provides iron, fiber, magnesium and zinc than many other grains. It can be used in baked goods, salads, protein shakes and added in veggie stews, sauces, soups or eaten as a main course. (1 cup cooked quinoa) per serving contains 222 calories, 8 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fat (1 gram saturated), 39 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 13 mg sodium.
Chickpeas AKA (garbanzo beans) are high in fiber and protein. It’s a versatile plant based protein, which is rich in fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, folate, healthy fatty acids and phosphorus. It can be roasted for a crunchy snack, used in baked goods, added to salads, soups or tacos and made into a hummus. (1 cup cooked chickpeas) per serving contains 269 calories, 15 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat (0 gram saturated), 45 grams carbohydrate, 11mg sodium, 8 grams of sugar and 13 grams of dietary fiber.
Oats are whole, vegan protein cereal grains, and they’re highly nutritious. They’re rich in nutrients that work magic in our bodies. Oats brings yummy tastes to different savoury meals like baked goods, oat milk, porridge, smoothies, over night oats and granola, making it a good choice for breakfast meal. Oats are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s rich in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. It also contains fiber specifically beta-glucan, which has been shown to lower cholesterol. It also promotes weight loss and have shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. (1 cup cooked or soaked over night steel cut oat meal) per serving contains 150 calories, 8 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, 52 grams of carbohydrate and 4 grams of dietary fiber.
Almonds are potent plant based protein foods which are packed with numerous health promoting phytochemicals. They provide a good amount of potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamin E, which is great for the eyes and skin. Magnesium in almonds,also helps to reduce symptoms such as menstrual pains and headache. Almonds, add amazing savoury to varieties of dishes like baked goods, salads and grain bowls. Almond milk is a plant based milk which is a great substitute for cow’s milk. It can be added to cereal bowls, granola and smoothies. (23 whole almonds) contains 163 calories, 3.5 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of protein, 1 gram of sugar, 200 mg potassium, 7% calcium, 6% of iron, 19% of magnesium.
Hemp seeds AKA “hemp hearts” are edible seeds and are full of plant based proteins which are highly nutritious. They contain all the nine essential amino acids. Hemp seeds are rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, fiber, zinc, phosphorus, iron and magnesium, sulfur, calcium and potassium. Hemp seeds and it’s milk (hemp seed milk) can be added to different kinds of dishes, ranging from baked goods, salads, cereal bowls, smoothies, yogurt, soups and home-made granola. (3 tablespoons) per serving contains 80 calories,10 grams of protein, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 16 grams of fat (1 gram saturated), 2 grams carbohydrate, 0 mg of sodium and 2 grams of sugar.
Kidney beans are loaded with amazing health benefits, such as proteins, magnesium, iron, calcium, folate and vitamins. It lowers blood sugar levels and reduces cholesterol levels too. Kidney beans are really high in fiber and thus reduces the congestive symptoms of pains by producing bulkier stools with higher water content. This rids the body of excess fluid and also normalizes digestion, reduces diarrhea and constipation. They’ve nice textures when cooked, and can be stirred into salads, grain bowls, stews and soups. (1 cup) per serving contains 222 calories, 14 grams of protein, 42 grams of carbohydrate, 16 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 619 mg of sodium and 0 gram of fat (0 gram saturated).
Lentils are packed with lots of proteins and irons. They have a nice savoury taste and can serve as great meat substitutes in many meals. They are packed with potassium, folate, calcium and magnesium. Research shows that lentil is a source of prebiotics that feeds gut flora to help prevent digestive diseases. Whole lentils cook faster in boiling water for 15-20 minutes, making them perfect for stews, soups and baked goods. (1 cup) per serving contains 230 calories, 18 grams of protein, 40 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of sugar, 16 grams of fiber, 1 gram of fat (0 gram saturated) and 4 mg of sodium.
A shift away from animal products is getting eaiser everyday with the availability of nutritious plant-based foods. Now you know the nutritional facts of these plant based proteins, i hope you incorporate them in your vegan diet.
Daniella Obuwan Oshiame, is an experienced freelance health & nutrition writer who is passionate about the plant-based lifestyle and everything Vegan.