10 Best Vegan Protein Sources You Should Be Eating
Plant-based diets are no longer just a hype fad diet, but rather a lifestyle that many people are following. With this comes the question, what are the best vegan protein sources?
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or simply want to sometimes avoid animal products, a common question is whether you can meet your protein requirements on a plant-based diet; and even if you can, what foods exactly can you eat to boost your consumption? See Difference Between Vegan And Vegetarian and Difference Between Vegan And Plant-Based.
That’s precisely what you are about to find out.
Keep in mind, there are honestly so many more foods! This is just an overview.
What is protein? And why do you need it?
Protein is an essential macronutrient that is broken down in the body to release Amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks for bones, cartilage, muscles, blood, and skin. They also help in growth and maintenance, nutrient transportation and storage, tissue repair, and hormones and enzyme production.
Not consuming enough protein-containing foods may lead to a deficiency, which could eventually lead to health problems such as:
- Loss of muscle mass
- Delayed growth
- Thinning hair
- Brittle nails
- Stunted growth in children
- High susceptibility to infections
How much protein do you need?
Protein requirements vary depending on different factors, including muscle mass, body weight, age, and physical activity. However, bodyweight is the most important determinant of all the requirements.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein for an adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, but this amount may go higher for athletes.
Athletes need approximately 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram to meet their muscle maintenance and training recovery.
What are the best vegan protein sources?
Lentils are one of the oldest, nutritionally rich foods on the planet. However, not all of them are equal in nutritional value. Black lentils contain the richest amount of protein when compared to other types.
Even so, brown, green, and red lentils are still an amazing vegan protein source that I eat very often, with 18 grams of protein in every cup.
They are also high in fiber and minerals such as folate, potassium, and iron.
Not only are chickpeas delicious, but they are packed with protein, fiber, folate, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese.
Mostly found in Mediterranean mindful diets, they are incredibly beneficial for weight management, managing diabetes, improving brain function, and so much more.
A cup of boiled chickpeas (240 ml) will provide 15 grams of protein.
Quinoa is synonymous with the word superfood. Contrary to popular beliefs, it’s a seed and not a grain.
When it comes to plant protein and fiber, this superfood checks all the boxes.
Unlike other plant-based proteins, quinoa is a complete protein, which means it’s packed with all nine relevant amino acids.
Toss in some quinoa with black beans, or go for a more filling pilaf. The possibilities are endless!
Quinoa can also be used as a healthy alternative to rice. It clocks in at 8 grams of protein per cooked cup, and also 5 grams of fiber.
Peas are naturally sweet legumes. The health benefits of these vegetables are credited to the high levels of antioxidants and protein in just a limited amount. When compared to any other vegetable, peas have a relatively larger amount of protein.
Eating just one serving of peas a day promotes gut health, heart health, and aids weight loss.
Green peas are very easily added to many dishes and have 8 grams of protein per cup of cooked peas.
Almonds are an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, and fiber.
Eating just a couple of them a day improves appetite control, gets rid of toxic elements, and controls blood sugar.
Although almonds don’t contain all the essential amino acids needed to build muscles, pairing them with other plant-based proteins will do the trick.
A whole cup of almonds has 30 grams of protein! Most of us won’t eat that many, since nuts are fairly high in calories. However, 1/4 cup of almonds is a great post-workout snack.
The benefits of chia seeds were recognized during ancient times. Ever since then, the popularity has only gone up. These seeds go well with plant-based yogurts, salad, or oatmeal and load you up with antioxidants and essential nutrients.
Just two tablespoons of chia seeds are power-packed with whopping 4 grams of protein.
They also promote weight loss by increasing satiety, which helps to keep you from snacking on unhealthy junk.
Edamame, tofu, and other soy products
Edamame is the Japanese word for green soybeans. They can be boiled and lightly salted for a delicious snack. One cup of edamame has 17 grams of protein and only 190 calories.
There are also so many more products made of soy that are high in protein, such as tofu, tempeh, and even soy milk.
Tempeh is a soy product made from cooking and slightly fermenting soybeans then pressing them into a cake.
It’s densely packed with rich essential minerals and vitamins. From protein to prebiotic, it’s truly a powerhouse of nutrition and helps in reducing cholesterol, regulating blood glucose, and reducing inflammation.
Usually prepared with nuts, seeds, legumes, or whole grains, it is significantly richer in protein and fiber, with 30 grams per cup of protein.
Tofu has 20 grams of protein per cup, and soy milk has 7 grams.
Like quinoa, hemp seeds are a complete protein with all the nine essential amino acids. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds have a whole 10 grams of protein!
They are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and selenium.
You can enjoy your hemp seeds in your morning cereal or smoothie, or include them in your salad dressings and protein bars.
Oats are another delicious, naturally gluten-free, and convenient source of protein.
A cup of oatmeal can provide up to 5 grams of protein.
Besides, they are high in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, including zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, magnesium, selenium, folate, and phosphorus.
They can lower cholesterol levels, improve blood glucose control, aid weight loss, improve skin health, and help relieve constipation.
Pinto and black beans
Beans are generally high in protein, fiber, and minerals. Two of my favorites are black and pinto beans. They are at the top of the list, with one cup of cooked beans containing 15 grams of protein.
They are a great source of antioxidants, can control blood glucose, improve heart health, relieve digestive issues, maintain healthy bones, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Clearly, protein is one of those essential nutrients that you cannot ignore. The best thing is that they are naturally available in most plant foods you’re likely to consume on a daily basis. So go and make your plate colorful with these delicious plant-based proteins.
More Vegan Information
- 6 Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
- How To Transition to a Plant-Based Diet
- Should Vegans Take Supplements?
- Plant Iron Sources
- 8 Best Vegan Probiotics
- 10 Foods That Boost the Immune System
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