15 of the BEST Sources of Protein to Add to Your Diet
(AscendHealthy.com) – In recent years, vegan and vegetarian diets have become increasingly popular. More than 80% of us are enriching our diets with plant-based foods. Whether we follow a strict vegan diet or aim for an occasional plant-based meal, we share the same challenge: Getting enough protein. Read on to discover the 15 best plant-based protein sources.
5 Protein-Packed Beans and Legumes
Please take a moment to appreciate the common bean. These tiny legumes do more than make you pass gas.
Beans are versatile, showing up everywhere from plant-based burgers to stir-fries. And don’t forget to give lentils some love:
- Black Beans: Consuming one cup of black beans gives you 15 grams of protein. These legumes are filling as well, with that same cup providing 15 grams of fiber.
- Edamame: These soybeans provide 17 grams of protein per cup. Edamame can provide a protein-rich snack or enrich a stir fry.
- Kidney Beans: Enjoy just 3.5 ounces of cooked kidney beans to get about 9 grams of protein. These beans make a tasty addition to salads.
- Chickpeas: Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas offer 14.5 grams of protein per cup. Try something different by experimenting with chickpea pasta.
- Lentils: Consume a 1/2-cup serving of cooked brown lentils to get 9 grams of protein. Try using these legumes in veggie burgers or pureeing them for sauces and stews.
5 Nuts High in Protein
Get ready to go nuts for nuts. From almonds to walnuts, nuts are rich sources of protein and other nutrients:
- Almonds: These tree nuts offer 6 grams of protein per serving (equal to a small handful). Enjoy almonds as snacks or experiment with almond butter.
- Walnuts: Just two ounces of walnuts provide 8 grams of protein. Chop up walnuts in a stir fry or try sprinkling on a salad.
- Pistachios: These colorful nuts offer 6 grams of protein per ounce. Enjoy their distinctive taste in smoothies or puddings.
- Cashews: Another member of the tree nut family, cashews provide 5 grams of protein per ounce. Chop into a stir fry for added texture.
- Hazelnuts: One ounce of hazelnuts offers 6 grams of protein. For a tasty and healthy dessert, try slicing bananas, rolling in chopped hazelnuts, and then freezing.
5 Meat Substitutes
Those of us who have attended a vegan or vegetarian Thanksgiving celebration know that it’s rude to call foul on fowl substitutes. Tofu turkey deserves equal opportunity to grace our plates.
In addition to plant-based variations on the turkey day gobbler, many meat-based substitutes are packed with protein:
- Tempeh: Using non-GMO, unprocessed tempeh provides a versatile way to get enough protein. Six slices of tempeh have 11 grams of protein. Try adding this nutty-flavored ingredient in sandwiches or soups.
- Tofu: Created by pressing coagulated soy milk into solid blocks, tofu offers 8 grams of protein in 3 ounces. Toss tofu cubes onto salads, add to stir-fries, or use in a stew.
- Hemp Seeds: If we had a weigh-in contest, hemp seeds would rival beef and lamb as the winner. Adding 30 grams of these seeds to smoothies, cereal, or yogurt adds 11 grams of protein to our daily total. Also, hemp seeds offer a complete protein source because they contain all the essential amino acids.
- Spirulina: This blue-green algae powder can slide into a smoothie to add plant-based protein. Just one tablespoon offers 4 grams of protein.
- Quinoa: Cooked quinoa provides 8 grams of protein per cup. Try it as a breakfast bowl, use in a salad, or add to a soup. Just like hemp seeds, quinoa offers all the essential amino acids.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Now that we have our plant-based protein sources, we need to know how much protein to eat daily. The current dietary guidelines provide age-related totals for each food group, along with caloric needs.
For example, women ages 31 to 50 need 1,800 calories per day and 46 grams of protein. In contrast, men in that age group require 2,200 calories daily with 56 grams of protein.
Our caloric needs decrease slightly as we age, but our protein needs remain the same. Women over 50, for example, need just 1,600 calories per day with 46 grams of protein. Men in that age range require 2,000 calories daily and 56 grams of protein.
Whether we’re strict vegans or occasional plant-based meal eaters, we may fulfill our daily protein needs in a wide range of ways. Beans add texture to salads, while nuts can provide a healthy snack. Choose quinoa or hemp seeds to benefit your body with all the essential amino acids. As always, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before making any extreme dietary changes.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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