Protein is such a big thing in our culture right now, and lots of people question whether or not it is actually as important as it’s made out to be. Your body needs protein to build and repair tissues, as well as making enzymes and hormones, and building bones, cartilage, skin and blood. There is also a lot of pressure put on eating ‘complete proteins’. While complete proteins are important, and there are some plant-based complete proteins, eating a variety of protein-rich foods allows your body to create its own complete proteins. These are five of the best vegan protein sources to add into your diet.
Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all of the amino acids necessary. There are 9 grams of protein per cup of quinoa, as well as minerals like magnesium, iron and phosphorous. Quinoa is also super versatile. It can be substituted for pasta or rice, you can cook it like porridge, or add it to soup.
2. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a superfood, and they are an amazing source of vegan protein. Per 2 tablespoons of chia seeds there are 5 grams of protein, and they can be added to so many foods without altering the flavour that they are one of the easiest ways to up your protein levels. You can add them to smoothies, pancakes, or just throw them into a stir fry or curry. They are an excellent source of fibre and healthy fats, and are deemed the best plant-based source of ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), which prevents cancer, reduces cortisol levels, and decreases the risk of heart disease.
Per cup of cooked lentils there are 9 grams of protein, while per cup of uncooked lentils 18 grams of protein. They are also full of fibre, making them great for heart health and contain magnesium which improves circulation. They also make really amazing curries, especially when mixed with sweet potato and spinach.
Soy is also a complete vegan protein, and is prepared in lots of different ways, including soy sauce, soy milk, soy flour, tempeh and tofu. Soy is a good source of fibre, as well as polyunsaturated fat, which lowers cholesterol. It is also a great way to increase the amount of calcium and iron in your diet.
Another great source of vegan protein is chickpeas, and ½ a cup of chickpeas contain around 7 grams of protein. Chickpeas are a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin K, meaning that it contributes to building and maintaining bone structure and strength. They can also help to make you feel fuller for longer, decreasing your overall calorie intake. You can also eat chickpeas in the form of hummus, which is an amazing snack. You can eat hummus with pitas, celery, carrots or pepper, and you can even mix it in with pasta as a sauce.
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