When people think about protein, the first foods that come to mind normally include chicken, beef, pork, turkey, etc. It is rare for the average person to think about plant-based protein sources. Whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, or are simply looking to switch up your diet, THIS IS FOR YOU! There are so many different protein sources that don’t involve
dead animals – sounds harsh, but it’s the reality! The following include some of my favorite sources of protein and the benefits of them.
I LOOOOOOVE lentils. I swear, I eat them EVERYDAY. They are one of my favorite sources of protein. For one cup of cooked lentils, you are getting 18 grams of protein. Roughly the same amount of protein found in three boiled eggs. Additionally, one cup of cooked lentils provides roughly 50% of the recommended daily fiber intake and helps “feed the good bacteria in your colon, promoting a healthy gut.” According to a study conducted by the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012, lentils aided in improving “glycemic control and lowered the risk of coronary heart disease by reducing blood pressure.” A few of the nutrients in lentils include folate, manganese, and iron. Lentils are a cheap alternative to meat and can provide a DELICIOUS meal. Some examples of meals include on salad, in soups, or Indian dahl – a lentil stew.
Chickpeas AKA garbanzo beans
For one cup of cooked chickpeas, you are getting 15 grams of protein – a little less than lentils but still a great amount! The nutrients provided by chickpeas include “iron, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K” and aid in bone health, lowering blood pressure, prevent inflammation, lowering the risk of cancer and other diseases, etc. Chickpeas can be enjoyed in soups, salads, hummus, or can be roasted.
YES, they come from a hemp plant that is related to cannabis. NO, you will not get high – don’t worry! Hemp seeds are absolutely wonderful and contain 10 grams of protein per three tablespoons. Additionally, they contain magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, and are a great source of omega-3 and omega-6. Hemp seeds can help reduce the risk of heart disease due them containing arginine, an amino acid that helps “produce nitric oxide in the body,” allowing the body’s blood vessels to expand and helping lower blood pressure. Try hemp seeds in cookies, protein bars, on salads, or in smoothies.
Yes, vegetables have protein! In fact, one serving (approximately one cup) of broccoli contains roughly 4-5 grams of protein per cup. This vegetable has a great amount of nutrients and contains calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, omega 3 fatty acids, and is high in fiber. Because of all these nutrients, broccoli has “cancer fighting, immune boosting properties,” and helps with inflammation and allergic reactions, and improves bone health.
Nuts such as cashews, walnuts, almonds, and others are great protein sources as a ¼ of a cup ranges between 7-9 grams of protein. As I have mentioned in a previous post, nuts help our bodies absorb vitamins and minerals – which is incredibly important for our brains to function. Eating a variety of nuts can help your body fight inflammation, and help with digestion, immunity, vision, heart health, and many more. Nuts are great to add to your oatmeal, cookies, smoothies, yogurt, and can absolutely be enjoyed by themselves!
One of the common misconceptions is that plant-based food doesn’t provide sufficient protein. The great news is that this is far from true! Give these protein-rich foods a shot and feel good about what you’re consuming! Leave a comment below with your favorite plant-based protein sources, I’d love to hear them!
Main Photo: Hallelujah Diet