With the increasing popularity of plant-based diets, more comparisons are happening between the health benefits of plant- and animal-based proteins. Some of the popular diets are veganism, pure vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescatarian, and ovo-vegetarian. The difference between them is in the type of animal-based food consumed along with whole foods. Keep in mind that a plant-based diet focuses on eating more plant-based food and a lesser amount of animal-based food products. The purpose of this article is to investigate various aspects of plant protein; read ahead to know more about this.
As already stated in the introduction, plant-based diets focus on eating more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, tubers, and whole grains. One of the main arguments raised against this eating habit is that you get less dietary protein because of the lower protein content of plant-based food, but this is not true. With a carefully planned balanced plant-based diet, you will get adequate amounts of protein and other nutrients. However, if you are following a diet like veganism, there is an increased risk of developing nutrient deficiency diseases. Some of these nutrients are vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and zinc.
Health Benefits Of Plant-Based Protein Sources
Protein is one of the most important macronutrients required for the growth and development of our body. This is because, it is the building block of muscles, skeleton, skin, and other biological structures. Also, most hormones and neurotransmitters are proteins with a difference in the arrangement of amino acids. Of the 21 amino acids, 9 are not produced by the body, and they must be obtained through diet. Plant proteins are not complete because most of them lack some of these essential amino acids. On the contrary, animal proteins are complete proteins. Shared below are the health benefits of plant-based protein sources.
The main health benefit of eating more plant-based food or following a plant-based diet is that this ensures a healthy gut. Remember that the gut microbiome has useful, neutral, and harmful microbes. When you eat more plant-based food, the useful microbes will dominate the gut microbiome. This is mainly because many of these microorganisms thrive on fiber, which is found most abundantly in whole foods. Also, this nutrient helps to lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, and boosts immune system function by improving gut health.
Compared to animal-based food, most plant-based sources of protein have lower calorie density. Apart from this, plant-based foods have more dietary fiber, and this makes you feel fuller for a longer time. This combination helps you to manage your weight much more effectively. Apart from this, plant-based food has a better nutritional profile, and this reduces the risk of developing certain diseases.
Rich In Fiber
Plant-based food has more fiber content, which has multiple health benefits. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that is not broken down by the digestive system. There are two types of fibers soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. The former type is found in food like beans, barley, oats, lentils, peas, and some vegetables and fruits. The latter type is found in whole grains, wheat bran, and vegetables. Both are required for digestion, preventing gut-related issues, and maintaining gut health.
Best Plant-Based Protein Sources
Tofu, Tempeh, And Edamame
Remember that soy-based food products are excellent sources of protein. Half a cup of firm tofu has about 10 grams of protein. A similar amount of tempeh contains 15 grams of protein. Edamame is a dish made with immature soybean, and a half cup of it contains 8.5 grams of protein. Furthermore, tofu and tempeh are preferred choices for substituting meat in plant-based food preparation.
Seitan, also known as gluten, is an excellent source of protein. It is made by mixing water with wheat flour to make a dough. This is then washed with water to remove the wheat material, and you get pure gluten. It becomes a complete source of protein when cooked with soy sauce, which is rich in amino acid lysine.
Quinoa is a pseudo-grain and is a good source of complete protein. A cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein. Apart from this, it is rich in other nutrients like iron, fiber, magnesium, and manganese. Due to its nutritional profile, scientists consider it a superfood. Furthermore, it can be consumed as the main course in meals, added into soups, stews, and pasta, or used as a dressing in salads.
Lentils are one of the most affordable sources of plant-based protein. It is also rich in other nutrients like potassium, iron, and fiber. Half a cup of cooked lentils contains 8.84 grams of protein. They can be added to a wide variety of plant-based food preparation. For instance, it can be added to salads, curries, stews, or rice. When rice and lentils are eaten together, it becomes a complete source of protein.
These are some of the important points that you must know about plant-based protein sources, and we hope that this article was of use to you.