Why should you eat more plant proteins?
There are several reasons why people should consider adding more plant-based proteins to their diet:
- Health benefits: Plant proteins are often lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can be beneficial for heart health. Additionally, plant-based proteins are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can help support overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Sustainability: Plant-based proteins are generally more sustainable and environmentally friendly than animal-based proteins. Producing plant-based proteins requires less water, land, and other resources than producing animal-based proteins, making it a more sustainable option for feeding a growing population.
- Ethics: Many people choose to avoid animal-based proteins for ethical reasons, such as concerns over animal welfare or environmental impact.
- Variety: Incorporating plant-based proteins into your diet can help increase variety in your meals and provide a wider range of nutrients.
- Accessibility: Plant-based proteins are often more affordable and accessible than animal-based proteins, making it a more practical option for many people.
Overall, adding more plant-based proteins to your diet can be a great way to support your health, the environment, and animal welfare while enjoying a diverse and delicious range of foods.
So how much protein do you actually need?
The amount of protein people need to eat can vary depending on factors such as age, gender, body weight, and activity level. The recommended daily intake of protein for the average sedentary adult is about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For example, a person who weighs 70 kilograms would need about 56 grams of protein per day. However, athletes and people who are physically active may require more protein to support muscle growth and repair, and older adults may need higher amounts of protein to maintain muscle mass. It’s important to note that while protein is an essential nutrient, consuming excessive amounts of protein can be harmful to health, especially if it comes from animal-based sources high in saturated fat. A balanced and varied diet that includes a mix of plant and animal-based proteins can provide all the protein that most people need to maintain good health.
How do the levels of protein from legumes compare to meat?
Legumes are a good source of plant-based protein and can be a nutritious alternative to meat. While the protein content of legumes varies by type and preparation method, on average, legumes contain about 20-25% protein by weight. In comparison, most types of meat contain around 20-30% protein by weight, with some lean cuts such as chicken breast containing up to 35% protein by weight. Therefore, legumes can provide a similar amount of protein per serving as meat, but with the added benefit of being lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber. Additionally, legumes contain a range of other important nutrients such as complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are important for overall health. For these reasons, legumes can be a healthy and sustainable alternative to meat as a source of dietary protein.
So, how do you incorporate more plant based protein options into your meals?
Getting more protein from plant-based sources can be easy and delicious. Here are some ways to incorporate more plant-based proteins into your diet:
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas are all excellent sources of protein. Add them to salads, soups, stews, or make them into dips like hummus or refried beans.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, peanuts, cashews, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are all high in protein. Add them to smoothies, salads, or snack on them.
- Whole grains: Quinoa, brown rice, and whole-grain pasta are all good sources of protein. Use them as a base for your meals, or add them to salads or soups.
- Tofu and tempeh: These soy-based products are a great source of protein and can be used in many different dishes like stir-fries, curries, or sandwiches.
- Vegetables: Many vegetables are surprisingly high in protein, including broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus. Add them to salads, omelets, or stir-fries.
- Plant-based protein powders: There are many types of plant-based protein powders on the market, including pea, hemp, and brown rice protein. Use them in smoothies or baked goods.
Overall, there are many delicious and easy ways to incorporate plant-based proteins into your diet, whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, or just looking to reduce your consumption of animal-based products.