It needs no retelling that protein plays an extremely important role in creating and maintaining cells of the muscles, cartilage, bones, and also the skin. Additionally, an increasing number of people are looking to stay fit with a protein-rich diet.
A study published in Hypertension, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association (AHA), said that eating a balanced diet with protein from a greater variety of sources may help adults lower the risk of developing high blood pressure. However, despite its popularity and easy availability, there is a common misconception that protein choices are limited for vegetarians.
Busting this very myth, Dr Vara Yanamandra, an Ayurveda expert, took to Instagram and shared, “Protein is an abundant macronutrient found in many plant-based foods. Meat may be rich in protein but so are plant-based foods like legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds that are more than adequate to meet the daily protein needs of a person.”
She added, unlike animal protein which lacks diverse nutritional value, “plant protein is rich in fibre, antioxidants, phytonutrients that aid in the overall well-being of a person”. “Complete protein doesn’t have to originate from a single food. If you eat a wholesome and complete meal, your body can make the whole protein,” she continued.
Agreeing, Garima Goyal, a dietitian, told indianexpress.com, “Animal protein contains all the nine essential amino acids, so does plant protein; but it offers a limited amount of some of them.”
“Beans, peas, and lentils contain low amounts of cysteine and methionine while grains, seeds, and nuts are poor in lysine. As such, people think plant protein to be inadequate, but a variety of plant protein sources in the diet can solve this problem,” the expert added.
“Rice with beans, lentils, and chickpeas, whole grain bread with hummus, oatmeal with pumpkin seeds and peanut butter are some of the combinations,” the expert suggested.
While non-vegetarians get their protein from foods like chicken, salmon, and eggs, there are many plant-based options for vegetarians that can aid in muscle building, too. Although the protein intake one requires depends on several factors, here are some plant foods and their protein content, as shared by Dr Yanamandra.
*Lentils – 18 g per 198g cooked cups
*Beans – 15 gm per 170g cooked cup
*Green peas – 9 gm per 160 g cooked cup
*Hemp seeds – 9 gm per 30 g serving
*Tofu, tempeh – 12 gm per 100 gm
*Spelt and teff – 11gms per 250 gm
“Vegetarian/vegan protein diet has many advantages such as improving heart health, weight loss, and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and obesity,” Goyal added.