Get all the benefits without the drawbacks of animal-based proteins.
There’s a widely held misconception that we need to get most of our protein from animals rather than plants. Let’s take a look at the facts around proteins and see what source really is best.
A Protein Primer
What’s the big deal with proteins, anyway? Well, protein is a macronutrient that is essential in building muscle mass and other body tissue, such as skin and hair. Chemically, protein comprises amino acids—which are organic compounds made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen or sulfur.
Protein helps fuel many chemical reactions as well as the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in your blood. Believe it or not, your body thrives through its use of more than 10,000 different proteins.
Our bodies make most of these proteins, but there are nine—histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine—that are referred to as essential amino acids, which we can get only from the food we eat.
Plant Vs. Animal Protein
Traditionally, most nutritionists erroneously held the belief that animals are better sources of protein—but researchers now believe that plants can be a worthy alternative. In fact, “Certain plants can be excellent sources of protein, often with fewer calories and fewer potentially harmful effects than animal products,” says Stephanie Cramer, administrative dietitian for Southern California’s renowned Cedars-Sinai healthcare system.
Animal proteins (meat, eggs, and cow’s milk) aren’t an option for everyone for various dietary reasons. And, even if they are an option for you, remember that research links red-meat consumption to heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. So, the more proteins you get from plants, the better.
Primo Plant-Based Proteins
Looking to increase your protein intake from the vegetable world? The best plant-based options, based on the amount of protein per serving, include:
- Nuts – including peanuts and almonds (16.5-20.5 grams per half-cup)
- Chickpeas (19.5)
- Soy – including tofu, edamame, and tempeh (8.5-15 grams)
- Lentils (9 grams)
- Black beans (7.5 grams)
- Pinto beans (7.5 grams)
- Kidney beans (7 grams)
- Navy beans (7 grams)
- Oatmeal (6 grams)
- Pumpkin seeds (6 grams)
- Quinoa (4 grams)
- Farro (4 grams)
- Peas (4 grams)
- Sun-dried tomatoes (4 grams)
Another solid source of protein is nutritional yeast, which can be added while cooking or on top of salads and other dishes. Just two tablespoons deliver eight grams of protein. (Some people think of it as a cheese substitute, but there is plenty of debate on whether it tastes like cheese.)
Keep in mind some of these alternatives are higher in fat (peanuts and almonds)—but it’s good to vary your menu anyway to ensure you get all the nutrients (protein and otherwise) that you need.
The Pickled Beet provides personalized, chef-crafted meals—including vegetarian and vegan, along with meals customized for people with food allergies or sensitivities. We even customize for low-carb, keto, and other diets. If you live in the Miami area and want meals to support your specific health needs, look no further than The Pickled Beet. We provide flavorful, healthy meals so you can eat the way you know you should—without spending hours in the kitchen. Contact us today for a free consultation.