If you’re looking for quality food, then look no further than these top 10 protein sources for vegeterians. They’ll give you plenty of options when it comes to getting enough protein into your diet.
Protein is an important part of a healthy diet. It helps build and maintain muscle, bones, skin, hair, nails, blood vessels, and other tissues in the body. In addition to being essential for good health, protein also plays a role in regulating metabolism, helping with weight loss or gain, and maintaining energy levels throughout the day. For vegetarians who want to get enough protein without eating meat, there are many options available. Here’s our list of top ten sources of plant-based proteins:
This is a list of the top 10 protein sources that are available to vegetarians. The best part about this list is that it’s not just one or two foods, but all ten! You can use these proteins in any number of ways and they will provide you with an adequate amount of protein every day without having to eat meat. This means that even if you don’t want to go completely vegetarian, these foods could still help your diet.
I have included some information about each source and how it compares with other foods in terms of its nutritional value, but this should not be considered an exhaustive review of all vegetarian proteins.
Soybeans contain high levels of both soluble and insoluble fiber as well as many vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B12, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, copper, manganese, selenium, iodine, and phytic acid. They also provide good amounts of dietary fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. In addition they can help prevent cancer by reducing estrogen production. Soybeans are one of the most versatile food items around since they can be used in so many different ways from tofu to soy milk to tempeh to miso soup to smoothies.
Tofu is made when water-soaked soybean curd or bean curds are pressed into blocks. It has been called the poor man’s meat because it tastes like chicken and contains similar nutrients such as protein, fat, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. The texture of tofu varies depending upon whether it was fermented, boiled, fried, baked, steamed. There are two basic types of tofu – firm and extra-firm. Firm tofu is best if you want something resembling ground beef while extra-firm tofu resembles hamburger patties. Both types of tofu are very low in calories and sodium and rich in protein, essential fatty acids, folic acid, lignans, and antioxidants.
Lentils are small legumes that grow underground. They come in red, green, yellow, brown, black, and mung dal varieties. Red lentils are often referred to as “poor people’s rice” due to their ability to absorb moisture easily and cook quickly. Mung dal is another popular variety of lentil that cooks up nicely without soaking first. These little guys offer great nutrition at only 35 calories per cup! They are packed full of protein, fiber, iron, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and B6. You will find them in soups, stews, salads, casseroles, and even desserts.
Bean sprouts, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans, navy beans, etc., are just a few examples of what we call beans. We eat them raw, cooked, dried, canned, frozen, and pickled. All kinds of beans are excellent sources of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Most beans are relatively inexpensive if you compare them to meats and poultry. However, there are several drawbacks to eating beans.
First, they take longer than other plant foods to digest. Second, they tend to cause flatulence. Third, they may increase your risk of developing certain cancers. Fourth, they are higher in saturated fats than any other vegetable group. Fifth, some beans have toxic substances that must be removed before consumption. Finally, all beans need to be soaked overnight prior to cooking. This allows time for toxins to leach out of the beans. Soaking does not remove these toxins but rather makes them easier to eliminate during digestion.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are an important part of vegetarian diets. Many nuts and seeds are extremely healthy. Some are full of protein, others with omega 3 oils, still others with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
- sunflower seeds,
- pumpkin seeds,
- sesame seeds,
- chia seeds,
- hemp seeds,
- macadamia nuts,
- pine nuts,
- Brazil nuts,
- and peanuts
are among the healthiest nut/seed combinations available today. While nuts and seeds do require more preparation than grains, vegetables, and fruits, they are worth the effort. Not only are they delicious, nutritious snacks, they make wonderful additions to cereals, breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, pasta dishes, salad dressings, dips, sauces, spreads, cookies, cakes, pies, ice cream, beverages, and much more.
Quinoa is actually considered a seed instead of a grain. It comes from South America where it grows naturally on mountainsides. The name quinoa means “mother of wheat” because its shape resembles a miniature ear of corn. In fact, this tiny food has been cultivated by native Americans since pre-Columbian times. Today, quinoa is grown commercially throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and Latin America.
Although most commonly used in savory recipes such as pilafs or side dishes like salads, quinoa can also be prepared into breakfast items including oatmeal, porridge, granola bars, yogurt parfaits, smoothies, and baked goods. Like many whole grains, quinoa contains high amounts of dietary fiber, vitamin E, folate, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, biotin, and selenium.
Soybeans contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. Isoflavone content varies depending upon which soybean you choose. For example, soymilk contains about 40% less phytic acid than tofu. Tofu is made from fermented soybeans while tempeh is made from unfermented ones. Tempeh is rich in lignans, a type of antioxidant found in plants.
Both tofu and tempeh provide complete proteins containing all eight essential amino acids. They’re great alternatives to meat products and dairy milk. Soymilk provides similar nutrition benefits without the cholesterol and fat associated with cow’s milk. You’ll find soyfoods at natural food stores and supermarkets. Look for lowfat varieties if possible.
Whole grains include brown rice, oats, barley, bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt, triticale, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, sorghum, teff, rye, wild rice, quinoa, and even popcorn! These ancient grains offer numerous nutritional advantages over refined white flour products. A diet rich in whole grains helps lower blood pressure, reduces LDL cholesterol levels, lowers triglyceride levels, improves insulin sensitivity, increases bone density, protects against cancer, promotes weight loss, and prevents osteoporosis.
Legumes are another common source of protein. Beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, black eyed peas, adzuki beans, mung beans, and red kidney beans are just a few types of legume. They come in various colors: green, yellow, orange, purple, pink, blue, and black. When choosing legumes, look for those labeled organic or non-GMO.
As with other bean groups, you should always rinse legumes well under running water prior to soaking. After soaking, drain and rinse again. them to your favorite recipe. Use canned beans when cooking dried beans would take too long. Canned beans have already had their skins removed; therefore they don’t need any additional preparation before using.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are full of healthy fats that help keep our bodies hydrated and lubricated. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and Brazil nuts are some examples of nut/seed foods. If you eat these raw, make sure not to soak them first.
This will cause them to lose much of their nutrients. Instead, simply dry roast them until golden brown. Roasting brings out more flavor and makes nuts easier to digest. Toasted nuts are still very nutritious but roasted nuts retain more vitamins and minerals. Store nuts in airtight containers away from heat and light. Make sure to check expiration dates. Some nuts may last up to two years after opening. Others only last six months.
In conclusion, there are many different ways for getting adequate amounts of protein on a plant based diet:
1) Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are high in fiber and vitamin C. Fiber aids digestion by helping move waste through the digestive tract. Vitamin C boosts immunity and assists in iron absorption.
2) Include beans, nuts, and seeds as part of your daily meals. All three are excellent sources of protein.
The key is variety. Try new sources every time you cook or bake. Experimenting can lead to delicious results.