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Protein is a key nutrient to maintain and grow muscles, and at the same time, to keep your skin and hair strong and healthy. In fact, it also helps keep you full! But if you’re following a vegetarian diet or are a vegan, you might wonder where you can get the protein from. Relax, It’s easier than you think! But before we jump to the list of vegan foods that are protein-rich, let’s first understand why our bodies need protein.
According to Ritika Samaddar, nutritionist and dietitian, Max Hospitals, Saket, New Delhi, “Protein is an essential nutrient present in every single cell in our body, and is required for growth and repair. Approximately, one-fifth of our body weight is protein. You have to eat protein every day, as the body can’t store protein like it can for carbohydrates and fats.”
She adds, “It is required not only for muscle growth, but also for bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, hair, antibodies, hormones, and enzymes.”
On the other hand, a deficiency of protein can lead to impaired physical development, edema, low immunity, as well as low muscle mass. Therefore, protein is important. And for that, Dr Samaddar recommends replacing fats and carbohydrates with healthy protein.
Without further ado, let’s learn about some vegan foods that are rich in protein.
Soybeans are the richest source of plant-based protein. One cup of soybean contains 29 grams of protein, which is the same as 100g of chicken breast. In fact, according to a study published in the International Journal of Medical Science, soy protein has a greater thermogenic effect, which may increase body metabolism and promote weight loss. You can also add tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and edamame, because they all originate from soybeans.
One serving (30gms) of lentils contains almost seven grams of protein, says Dr Sammddar. You can have red or green lentils, as both varieties contain plenty of protein including iron, fibre, and potassium. The polyphenols and other bioactive compounds in lentils are responsible for most of the powerful health benefits that lentils provide.
Almonds provide a range of essential nutrients, which are beneficial for health, including a good amount of protein. Around 20-25 almonds contain almost six grams of protein. They are super filling and not only do they deliver protein, they also contain fibre that is great for heart health and weight loss.
Green peas are a great low-calorie food. But another reason behind the popularity of green peas is that they are packed with protein. What’s more, green peas cover more than 25% of your daily need of fibre, vitamin A, K, C, thiamine, folate, and magnesium requirements.
It is the only food in the list of high-protein vegetarian foods that has a protein content of 19 grams. Like nuts, pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein and unsaturated fats, including omega-6 fatty acids. They also contain a good range of nutrients, including iron, calcium, B2, folate, and beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.
Dr Samaddar explains that the Recommended Dietary Allowance is 0.8 to 1 g /kg body weight for a healthy adult. It comes to around 50-60 g per day. The requirement is higher, especially for pregnant and lactating mothers. Also, the requirement of protein is much higher during illness, and during the recovery phase post-illness. Sportspersons also need more protein for increased muscle mass and stamina.
So, if including protein in your daily diet is a thumb rule that everyone should follow, why should vegans be left behind?