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Best Plant-Based Proteins

Why do we need protein?

The world is fixated on the word ‘protein’. But where do you get your protein from if you’re following a whole food plant-based diet?

Protein is a macro element found in food – both in plants and in animals. Despite what the influential dairy and meat industries might have you believe, proteins are not just found in animal products. In reality, all plants are made up of proteins too.

Proteins help to build and repair our muscles, skin and internal organs. They also produce enzymes and hormones and help our immune systems to fight off infection. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, the list of benefits that proteins provide is long.

How much protein do we need?

When following a plant-based diet, it is important to eat plants that are high in protein. By eating plants with a higher protein content, you won’t have to graze all day like a gorilla or a cow in order to consume all the protein your body needs to repair, rebuild and grow.

As a growing human (e.g. a child or an athlete building muscle mass), we need 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight. However, to simply maintain and repair our bodies as an adult, we really only need 0.4-0.5 grams of protein per kilo of body weight.

Here’s an example for putting these numbers into your day-to-day: 1 bowl of porridge is 7-8 grams of protein, and 100 grams of potato is 100 grams of protein.

The best sources of plant-based proteins

It’s important to note that animal proteins are pro-inflammation, which means that the more you consume, the higher your level of inflammation. Stick to plant-based protein and you won’t have to worry about inflammation overload.

Protein can be easily obtained from an entirely plant-based diet. Some plant-based foods are much higher sources of plant proteins, such as the following:

Chickpeas

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are the main ingredient in our Flourish hummus recipe, and they make for a delicious curry or salad.

A great source of plant-based protein, chickpeas also contain several vitamins and minerals including iron, folate, manganese, phosphorus and copper – all of which work together to keep your body in harmonious health.

Lentils

With up to 9 grams of protein per 100 grams, lentils are pretty high on the list of plant-based protein sources. These legumes are also packed with fibre, and like chickpeas, they contain numerous healthy vitamins and minerals.

Try incorporating lentils into your next veggie soup, or using them as the base for homemade lasagna. Both meals are perfect for keeping you warm this winter!

Vegetables

Vegetables are, and have always been, an excellent source of protein. There are a whole lot of tasty veggies that pack a protein punch, many of which are classics:

  • Green peas
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Bean sprouts
  • Spinach

Most of these veggies are easy to dish up with your favourite meals, but if you’re unsure or haven’t tried them before, it’s easy to look up a simple recipe for inspiration.

For example, brussel sprouts mightn’t be very popular, but sautee them with some pine nuts, sea salt and garlic, and you’ll wonder why you weren’t eating them sooner.

Nuts and seeds

Like vegetables, there are plenty of nuts and seeds around that are packed just as full of protein. These include:

  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil nuts

Many of the nuts in this list can be made into nut butter, which makes a tasty treat when spread over some apple, banana or toast.

It’s also worth noting that chia seeds are exceptionally protein-heavy, as just one tablespoon contains up to 2 grams of protein. You can add chia seeds to smoothies, soups or salad, and there’s always the option to whip up a classic chia pudding.

Oats

Namely known for their vital role in the making of porridge, oats are a surprisingly high source of protein, with 10 grams of protein to every 100 grams of oats.

Oats are also a significant source of fibre, and studies suggest that they offer a number of health benefits including lowering cholesterol and promoting the feeling of being full after eating.

Protein is an important part of a healthy diet

Not only do proteins build and repair muscles, produce enzymes and hormones and boost our immune system, but they are also a significant energy source.

While too little protein can lead to shrinking muscle tissue, a build-up of fluids in the feet and ankles, and an iron deficiency in the blood, too much protein can be just as harmful. Finding the right balance of protein for any diet is an important element to be aware of.

There is a huge range of plant-based veggies packed full of protein, including nuts, legumes, vegetables, grains and more. To ensure you’re consuming enough protein whilst on a plant-based diet, all you need to do is eat the right foods to give you that boost.