There is a very common misconception that protein-rich foods are primarily non-vegetarian. This could be because the word protein is usually associated with eggs, steak, fish, chicken, etc. No one really talks about the vegetarian options for proteins. There is a concern associated with the vegetarian diet meeting the required amount of protein required for the body. Experts, however, shun these myths away by talking about how a well-planned diet with vegetarian food can provide the necessary proteins and nutrients. Plant foods contain a significant amount of protein. Therefore, it is now important to realize and acknowledge that protein just does not come from animal-based foods.
As a vegetarian, having a chat about your health and dietary preferences is not always fruitful; pun intended. No matter who you talk to - friends, family, colleagues; the most common question that comes up is -
But where do you get your proteins?
The answer may surprise you! Vegetarians can get their proteins from several sources and without any difficulties. The trick is to know how much protein you need on a daily basis and what are the best sources to get them.
Before understanding the amount and level of protein intake for a person, it would be vital to understand why this particular micronutrient is for the human body. It is an important dietary requirement for the body as it is the building block that any person requires for sufficient growth. It promotes muscle strength and weight loss. It is also one of the most important nutrients that help build and maintain the tissues. Even during injuries, proteins are what help rebuild the skin and the tissue. It also helps in the digestion process. Overall, it is one of the most important factors that promote and maintain a healthy immune system. They help to form the antibodies that then work to fight against the unhealthy viruses and bacteria that enter the body.
According to the National Institute of Nutrition, the Estimated Average Requirement is 0.6g/kg of body weight, while the Recommended Dietary Allowance is around 0.8g/kg of body weight for adult Indians. However, it varies with factors such as age, comorbidities, physical activity, and physiological changes.
Not at All ! But it is important to identify the best natural food sources from which you can gain the most benefit. Most plant-based foods like whole grains, whole pulses, dals, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of protein, while animal-based sources include milk and its substitutes.
Even if you’re not a total vegetarian, it’s still a great idea to designate one or two days per week where you don’t include meat in your meals because regardless of your dietary preferences, lentils and beans are a real powerhouse of nutrition for everyone. There are plenty of easy ways to incorporate protein in your vegetarian diet. Here’s a list of the best protein sources and how to optimize their benefits.
Adding pumpkin seeds to the diet would be great as it is a good source of tryptophan that is a precursor to the sleep hormone. They are also rich in Vitamin K, phosphorus, and manganese. To consume, you can add these seeds to any kind of salad. They can also be eaten raw as a snack. Roasted pumpkin seeds in olive oil with salt and pepper also give a great taste.
Considered one of the tastiest food items, chickpeas are also supremely healthy. They are high in protein and fiber and therefore are great meals to keep you feeling full for longer periods of time. Indian households do not need any tips to cook and consume chickpeas. The best way would be to boil them and cook them with a tomato and onion gravy to eat with parathas. Another way would be to simply boil them, add a bit of salt and spices, and consume them as a salad.
There are several benefits to chia seeds, they, of course, are a good source of protein and also provide omega-3, iron, calcium, and magnesium to the body. These help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Chia seeds can be consumed as raw toppings for delicious yogurt meals or smoothie bowls. They can also be used for baking goods. Add them to puddings and jams and make them even tastier.
Considered one of the most important beans in the world, soybean provides several health benefits. Naturally, they are high in protein but are also rich in carbs and fat. Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are also high in these beans. Soybeans are known to reduce the symptoms of menopause, prostate, and breast cancer. Soybeans can be made into a gravy vegetable or even a dry vegetable with a few tomatoes. Consume it with roti.
The many health benefits of almonds need not be told. They reduce bad cholesterol and are rich in vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium. They are responsible for a free and healthy flow of oxygen in the blood. Almonds also benefit the bones and make them stronger. They are also great for boosting brain function and memory. There can be several different ways to consume almonds – as a dry fruit, roasted or salted, grated within sheera or kheer, chopped into a dark chocolate mold, powered into milk, almond flour, etc.
Again, one of the most popular snacks and food categories in India, rajma is one of the most looked-forward-to meals. It has a very low GI which results in the slow release of carbs, thus not spiking the sugar levels. It helps in the process of digestion and promotes weight loss. It is also a rich source of minerals. Have rajma in the form of a gravy sabzi and you can pair it with rice or roti.
Dairy products are not only refreshing and tasty but also provide a good level of water intake via food into the body. They help to replenish the body and are also high in protein. These also have essential bacteria that are gut-friendly. The probiotic nature of dairy products is also beneficial. A healthy blood pressure, brain development, immune functioning, etc is also achieved with the consumption. Have dairy products in the form of milk, buttermilk, yogurt, non-fat/ low sugar Greek yogurt, probiotic curd, etc
When compared to animal protein, plant-protein has a lot more benefits - it is more easily digested, generally less acidic and comes with added components like fibre, healthier fats and other nutrients. Since plant based foods are the only sources of dietary fibre, eating more of it helps move food through your intestines at a more rapid rate and promotes a healthier colon. Most importantly, plant-proteins have a positive impact on your body and sense of well being. So the next time someone questions your protein intake, dazzle them with the endless possibilities available and all the rewards you reap from them. Also read about is carrot good for diabetes.
With the help of lentils, pulses, paneer, dairy, etc a vegetarian can incorporate about 100gms of protein in their diet. Use a combination of these food categories in the diet plan to mix it up a little.
There are several food options like – seitan, tofu, lentils, beans, paneer, etc that contain pure protein and can help a vegetarian increase their protein intake per day.