“Protein” has become a buzzword right now. Protein is not just for people who work out but is required by each and every person, as an important building block for muscles, bones, blood, skin and cartilage. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Proteins are primarily made up of Amino Acids, which help the body to build, repair and maintain muscle tissue. Hence, it is an essential part of an everyday diet.
As a vegetarian, I am tired of getting asked the same kind of questions by many- How do you manage your protein intake? The good news is that there are some very effective non-meat sources of protein, which when included regularly in our diet, can help us meet our dietary protein requirements.
Protein sources available for vegetarians:
Mushrooms: 3.1 g/100 g
These veggies are truly protein packed! They are healthy, delicious, easy to cook and are loaded with Vitamin B2, Folate and Vitamin D. The best part is, they’re low-fat and low-carb too, which makes them one of the best choices for people focussing on losing weight without cutting on their protein.
Chia seeds: 16.5g/100 g
Chia seeds are undoubtedly one of the healthiest superfoods available on Earth. They are an excellent source of proteins for Vegans/Vegetarians. They are packed with massive amounts of nutrients, fatty acids and antioxidants, with very-low-calorie content. They promote weight loss and are very easy to incorporate into your diet. Just go on and add those Chia seeds into your porridge!
Soy Products: 23 g/100 g
This is the go-to meat substitute for most Vegetarians. They contain all the necessary amino acids. They can be consumed in the form of beans or as “Tofu” or other forms. They have numerous other health benefits as well, such as heart disease prevention, cancer prevention, cell growth and regeneration. They are a great source of protein which even meat eaters can reap benefits from!
Chickpeas: 19 g/100 g
Garbanzo beans or Chickpeas are an excellent source of protein. Their nutty taste and grainy texture make them a great addition to any dish. Apart from being a rich source of protein, they are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fibre. They induce a sense of fullness and hence help you keep control of your appetite. Time to grab some hummus!
Eggs: 13 g/100 g
Eggs are one of the healthiest foods to eat. They’re cheap and easy to cook too. In addition to providing a lot of protein, they are a balanced source of all required nutrients. Eating eggs for breakfast also helps in weight control. The best part is, there are so many different and tasty ways to prepare eggs and we would never get bored of them!
Spirulina: 57 g/ 100g
With a whopping 57% protein content, Spirulina is truly a Superfood! They are derived from blue-green algae and are also a source of Vitamin B1, B2, B3, Copper, Iron and a decent quantity of magnesium, potassium and manganese. They are also packed with Antioxidants. They offer numerous health benefits such as anti-cancer properties, suppress oxidation, reduce blood pressure, control blood sugar, etc. Spirulina is widely available in stores and online, mostly in the form of capsules or powder.
Hemp seeds: 31 g/100 g
Hemp seeds contain as much protein as Soybeans. They have a complete profile of amino acids, especially rice in an amino acid called arginine. They are a great addition to a vegetarian diet as they also provide a good amount of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Broccoli: 3 g/100 g
Broccoli is a popular source of protein for Vegetarians and Vegans. They contain all the essential amino acids apart from plenty of manganese, potassium, phosphorus, folate, Vitamin C and K. They are easy to cook and make great additions in salads and soups. Broccolis offer a number of other health benefits and hence should be a part of everyone’s diet.
Greek yoghurt: 10 g/100 g
Non-meat eaters consider Greek yoghurt as a great source of protein. They can be easily incorporated into our diet and offer various health benefits apart from helping you keep your waist in check.
Spinach: 3 g/100 g
This leafy green vegetable is a must-have for every vegetarian/vegan. Spinach also contains a good amount of folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese and vitamin A and C. They are also anti-oxidant rich. So, go on and add those healthy spinach leaves to your omelette!
Beans and Lentils: 9 g/100 g
These are by far the cheapest source of protein. They can be used in pretty much everything, be it salads, pastas, soups and what not! Protein isn’t the only nutritional benefit you’ll get when eating lentils – they’re packed with iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, folate and niacin. Lentils are also rich in soluble fibre, which helps reduce or prevent high blood cholesterol levels.
Peas: 6 g/100 g
Pea protein is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids. These are good alternatives to Soya for people who are allergic to it. They are easy to cook and they contain some rare nutrients like niacin and molybdenum, apart from manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, vitamin B6, B2, A, C and K. They are great for people trying to keep a check on their weight, as peas promote a sense of fullness.
Amaranth: 15 g/100 g
Amaranth comes loaded with health perks. It is gluten-free, aids in digestion and a good source of protein. Ditch the porridge you make and try Amaranth porridge for a great protein-rich breakfast!
Pumpkin Seeds: 19 g/ 100 g
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best add-ons you can use in your diets. They contain a good quantity of protein and are high in anti-oxidants as well. They offer a lot of health benefits and may even protect again certain types of cancer.
Almonds: 21 g/100 g
They are highly recommended as good protein sources for non-meat eaters. Apart from protein, they deliver a massive amount of nutrients like fibre, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium. They also contain small amounts of copper, riboflavin and phosphorus. Time to grab a handful of Almonds!