There’s no way around it – protein is essential. This macronutrient is a component of every cell in the human body, including your hair, nails, skin, and muscles. Protein is required to repair tissue, produce enzymes, and create important biochemicals. However, not all proteins are created equal.
When we think of protein, your mind may jump to meat-based products such as chicken or beef. However, these meat products can often be highly processed and treated with nitrates and other various chemicals that may have a negative impact on your health. Many studies link red meat consumption with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
In contrast, plant-based proteins are healthier for the heart and blood sugar management because they are low in fat, so they do not add cholesterol or saturated fatty acids to your diet. Those who consume plant-based diets are at a lower risk for stroke and heart disease. Studies also suggest that bone and muscle health are benefitted by those eating a diet rich in plant-based proteins. High quality plant proteins can be better for your overall health, lower in calories, and even friendlier on the environment! These protein sources require fewer natural resources (such as water and land area) to produce compared to meat-based proteins.
Eating a varied diet full of fresh organic fruits and vegetables is important, but don’t forget to consume high-quality protein sources. Plant proteins are a delicious and nutritious addition to any diet, and there are dozens to choose from. Get your protein from plants when possible.
Eating legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, whole grains, and other plant-based sources of protein is a win for your health and the health of the planet, because they are easier to produce and require less natural resources. When your protein comes from plants, make sure to choose a variety from each source so that no “essential” amino acids are missing. The good news is that the plant kingdom offers plenty of options to mix and match.
Here are some fantastic plant protein options to choose from:1
Legumes (organic as much as possible): lentils, beans (adzuki, black, chickpeas/garbanzo, kidney, lima, mung, pinto, etc.), peas (green, snow, snap, split, etc.), soy products such as: tofu and tempeh, and peanuts.
Nuts and Seeds: almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, quinoa seed, and pomegranate seeds.
Whole Grains: kamut, teff, quinoa, rice, wild rice, millet, oats, buckwheat.
Other: while many vegetables and fruits contain some level of protein, it’s generally in smaller amounts than the other plant-based foods. Some examples of foods with higher protein amounts include corn, broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and artichokes.
Next time you’re looking to add more protein to your diet, try an organic plant protein – you won’t be disappointed!