The Virtues of Vegetable Proteins

Herbal food is on the rise. The typical American diet incorporates most of our protein as animal sources such as meat, dairy, and eggs.

Getting enough protein can be a challenge when it comes to starting to incorporate more plants into your diet. Americans typically do not meet the recommendations for nuts, seeds, and soy products, which provide additional health benefits because they are lower in saturated fat and more fiber. Other sources of vegetable protein include whole grains, beans, peas and legumes.

Protein is important because it plays a key role in building bone, muscle, and other tissues. Protein also provides energy to our body through calories.

Let’s review some of the powerful vegetable proteins you can incorporate into your diet:

There are different types of nuts that include almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and many more. Common types of seeds include flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and chia seeds.

Nuts and seeds are beneficial because they contain heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They also contain essential nutrients such as vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.

A typical serving of nuts is about a third of a cup or a small handful. Another benefit of nuts is that their fiber and protein content help the body to feel fuller for a longer period of time. Try incorporating nuts and seeds into smoothies, salads, trail mix and spread butter on top of wholemeal bread.

We can now move on to our next category of vegetable protein which includes beans, peas and lentils. Beans, peas and lentils are also known as legumes. Like nuts and seeds, these powerful plant foods have the potential for heart health due to their low fat, low cholesterol, and high fiber content.

Grocery stores offer these products in dry and canned options. Different types of legumes include chickpeas, lentils, beans, black beans, pinto beans and green beans. The recommended portion size for legumes is half a cup.

Challenge yourself to make legumes the main part of your meal with black bean burgers, hummus and as the main sources of protein in soups and chilies.

Technically, soy is also considered a legume. Soy products include tempeh, tofu, edamame, miso and soy milk. Soy is a high-quality source of protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids, while other plant sources may lack one or two sources. Soy contains soluble and insoluble fiber, which can promote healthy digestion.

One serving of soy is one cup of soy milk or half a cup of tofu or soy. Try adding soy products by incorporating tofu into soups and stews, and tasting soy milk into baked goods, cereals, or smoothies.

The benefits of adding vegetable protein to your diet are endless.

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