A very hot topic in nutrition is how to get enough protein, and how to derive that protein from non-animal sources. Protein is vital to every cell, tissue, bone, and muscle in the body and has many different functions (including making up 40% of our bodies’ dry matter). Protein helps grow and repair of muscles, bones, ligaments, tissues, hair, skin and nails. It boosts immune system and helps the body fight infection. Protein also maintains bodily functions, such as digestion, metabolism and circulation. An average person (female weighing 150 lbs needs around 50 grams of protein). Depending on your lifestyle and body goals, this number may vary, but one thing is for sure: the western society places too much of an emphasis on animal protein and consuming it in every meal.
I stick to an almost complete vegetarian diet, getting my assimilated protein from plants, grains and vegetable sources. Below are the top places to get all these muscle building, tissue repairing, metabolism boosting goodness:
1. Quinoa and other whole grains
Quinoa is one of my favorite. It is gluten free and full of protein, vitamins and minerals. What is even better, is that quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a “complete protein.” (one cup= 18 grams of protein)
2. Beans, Lentils and Legumes, Sun Dried Tomatoes
Black beans, kidney beans, Indian dhal, vegetarian chili, split pea soup, chickpea (hummus), and soy beans. One cup= 13.4 grams of protein, 8 percent protein. Sun dried tomatoes are made up of 14 percent protein!
3. Asparagus & Cauliflower, Mushrooms
Best is to eat it raw, but asparagus is a great liver and body detoxifier with 3 grams of protein in each cup. 3 grams of protein in the white cruciferous vegetable power food. Mushrooms are a great vegan source of protein as well. (White, Shitake, and Straw mushrooms are top protein sources).
4. Vegetable and Bean Sprouts
Alfalfa sprouts, lentil sprouts, broccoli sprouts, winged beans, soybean sprouts all yield around 14 percent protein, higher antioxidants and are very easily absorbed into the body.
5. Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts, Swiss Chard, Artichoke, Kale, Collard Greens, Chives, Watercress, Spinach, Green Peas
3 grams of protein for these green goddess vegetables that also have large amounts of immunity, blood and bone boosting abilities.
6. Tofu and Unprocessed Soy Products, and Seaweed/Sea Vegetables
Edamame, non-gmo-organic-soy ice cream and soy yogurt, soy nuts, tempeh and miso, and natural soymilk (especially those fortified with calcium, iron and vitamin B12) are all great sources of protein that yield 7-10 grams of protein in a cup. Don’t forget the nori and sea vegetables in your Asian dishes that have 6-8 percent protein per serving!
7. Nuts, Seeds and Nut Butters
Almond, peanuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, hazel, tahini and walnuts all contain protein yield about 8 grams of protein in each serving (2 tablespoons).
8. Natural, Unprocessed Seitan, Tempeh, Veggie Burgers and Meat Substitutes
Meat substitutes have amazing amounts of either soy protein or wheat protein (wheat gluten) or a combination of the two. Read the labels and make sure you can pronounce all the ingredients before eating. Try to stay as close to a few ingredients as possible and eat on a bed of steamed kale to add even
9. Protein Supplements
Always watch out for fillers in whey and soy protein powders. Choose ones with whey protein isolate, amino acids and zero to low sugar. Hemp protein powder and green protein powders are great as well. Protein content will vary by brand, but usually range from 17-30 grams per serving.
Sources: Healthiliciousness.com, 3fatchicks.com, vegetarian.about.com
photo credit: spartanworkoutblog.com, branain.com