Protein is the building block of all muscles in the body. Although meat and animals were once the primary source of protein for a great majority throughout the world, the health risks with animal protein can be high for some people. Here is a guide on some of the best sources of an alternative to animal protein: plant-based protein.
What is plant-based protein?
Plant-based protein is an alternative to animal proteins like meat, milk, and eggs. This plant-based protein is made up of exclusively fruits, vegetables, and all kinds of plants. A survey in 2015 revealed that over 8 million Americans were vegetarian diet, and about one million Americans were strictly vegan.
We have compiled a small proper list of the best protein sources for both vegans and vegetarians. Here are some of them:
Quinoa is a grain crop and its seeds are one of the best protein sources mainly because they are very accessible. Quinoa is gluten-free and contains all nine essential amino acids that a human body needs for growth. A single cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein and ranks at only 222 calories with only 39 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fat. Out of all grains, Quinoa offers a lot of fiber – much more than your average cup of grain.
Quinoa contains a large number of flavonoids which are shown to protect against viral infections, cancer, and even offer anti-depressant effects.
Tofu is a popular Japanese soy-based food that is formed by curdling soy milk. There are various types of Tofu like stinky tofu, tofu skin, Burmese tofu, and so on. Just like Quinoa, it contains all nine essential amino acids and is a complete protein source.
Tofu contains magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamin B1, iron, calcium, manganese, and phosphorous.
Studies show that the benefits of tofu are innumerable. They are a gluten-free source of food and don’t stack up calories even when eaten in high quantities.
Tofu is also a food source that is credited with being able to help protect against several diseases and types of cancer like the diseases related to the heart, diabetes, brain-damage diseases, breast, prostate, and kidney cancer.
A simple cube/block of tofu contains 15 grams of protein while only carrying 177 calories. It also has only 5 grams of carbohydrates and 12 grams of fat.
Lentils are a high-protein pulse that can be cooked. They are also packed with folate, phosphorous, potassium, and various other nutrients.
A cup of lentils contains 11 grams of protein, 32 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of fat. Although lentils are high in Lysine amino acid, they lack one or more essential acids like Tryptophan. Be sure to eat lentils with some of the other protein sources in this list, to ensure you have a healthy diet.
4. Non-fat Cheddar
This one is for the vegetarians as vegans do not consume dairy products. Cheddar is a type of cheese – which is a product obtained from milk. Although cheese is hailed to be high in fat, non-fat cheddar is the lowest level of fat a slice of cheese can offer. A 1.5 ounce serving of non-fat cheddar contains less than 10 grams of fat while offering a massive 14 grams of protein. It also has a relatively low 40 mg of cholesterol.
Because of its low fat and high protein, even children can enjoy a healthy dish of mac & cheese with non-fat cheddar cheese.
Seitan is a unique protein source that is made entirely of gluten of wheat. A single serving 100 grams serving of Seitan contains 25 grams of protein – which is almost double the grams of protein than any other plant-based protein has offered on this list.
Because of its texture and resemblance to meat when it comes to protein – meat also offers around 25 to 30 grams of protein by 100 grams serving – Seitan is known as white meat. Seitan only contains 0.5 grams of fat, which is why many vegetarian bodybuilders adore this plant-based protein source.
The only issue that people have with Seitan is the fact that is highly processed food and should not be eaten in higher quantities.
6. Chia seeds
Chia seeds make this list not because they contain a high amount of proteins per serving, but because they are a complete protein source. Chia seeds contain all essential amino acids and offer several benefits like stabilizing blood-sugar and dealing with hunger. Many people prefer eating chia seeds as a snack for this very purpose. A single serving of chia seeds contains only 4 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat, and 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.
7. Hemp seed
Although hemp is still a controversial compound, it has been proved that hemp seed is not an intoxicating compound. Hemp seed is shown to help battle against heart disease, obesity, and issues with one’s metabolism. They are rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and offer some of the highest protein-per-source.
A single serving of hemp seed contains almost 20 to 25 grams of protein, depending on how much hemp seed is in a single serving. Because of its digestibility, hemp seed is crushed and used as an alternative to meat for milkshakes.
Amaranth is one of the oldest grants available to mankind, just like Quinoa. It is a gluten-free source of protein and cooks just like porridge. Although Amaranth is classified as a pseudo-cereal, we will still consider it a source of protein for vegans and vegetarians alike. A single serving of Amaranth contains about 9 grams of proteins, with a healthy amount of below mentioned things.
Amaranth also contains antioxidants and helps reduce the effect of inflammation in the body. In many parts of the world, people cook Amaranth for tending to the sick.
Of course, spinach was going to make the list of the best plant-based proteins. Many people have grown up watching Popeye eating spinach and gaining superhuman strength. Of course, spinach does not offer such strength-boosting abilities, it is still a very good source of protein. Because of its nature, spinach is best eaten steamed. In many parts of the world, spinach is also cooked, used in dishes, and even in a salad.
Also because it is readily available, spinach is beloved all across the world. A single serving of spinach contains about 3 grams of protein, only 23 calories and about 91% water. One can easily eat more than a single serving of spinach at a time. Because it is a green vegetable, spinach also contains very good amounts of insoluble fiber and many vitamins.
Tomatoes are a great source of protein, especially sun-dried tomatoes. Tomatoes contain lycopene which can help reduce the risk of bladder, lung, skin, and stomach cancers and can help prevent many diseases. Because of the nature of the substance, tomatoes contain a healthy amount of fiber and potassium too.
A single serving of sun-dried tomatoes contains about 5 to 6 grams of protein, about 14 grams of total fat, and 6 grams of dietary fiber.
Mycoprotein is a fungus that offers protein. Because of its nature, Mycoprotein is hailed as a good source of protein. Products that are made with Mycoprotein are hailed as a good substitute for meat and other animal proteins.
A single cup of Mycoprotein contains about 26 grams of protein, which is very high when compared to many other sources on this list.
Guava is a fruit that is rich in Vitamin C and many other vitamins. It is hailed as one of the healthiest fruits to ever exist. Guava is recommended by all dietary experts as a risk-free source of protein and vitamins for anyone’s diet.
A single cup of Guava contains about 4 to 5 grams of protein but only 112 calories.
Green peas may not be the most favorite vegetable for children, but because of how they are shaped, they are a good snack. When cooked in meals, peas offer about 8 grams of protein per cup. Just like Guava, Peas contain a healthy amount of Vitamin C and offer immune system-boosting capabilities.
14. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is not for our vegan friends because butter is made from milk – a dairy product. Everyone loves eating peanut butter as it is an extremely tasty snack. When eaten in lower quantities, peanut butter is one of the healthiest sources of protein: about 7 grams per 2 tablespoons – which is like a single sandwich.
Peanut butter is not recommended for those who already have a big waist as it can help you gain weight.
Almonds are one of the most popular dried fruits in the world. Because of their ability to help with memory retention, many students are often advised to start eating almonds daily. Almond milk is also a popular choice by millions.
Almonds are rich in L-arginine amino acids but do not contain all amino acids. They offer about 6 grams of protein per ounce – which is quite a lot. You can enjoy almonds as a snack or use them as toppings in dishes.
We hope that this small list of the best protein sources for vegans and vegetarians has helped you figure out how to live healthier. Studies show that people with a plant-based protein diet live far longer than those who rely only on animal proteins.