nutrition

The 6 Best Vegetarian Protein Sources

Are you considering going vegetarian?

Some people are under the impression that going vegetarian means that you’ll become weak, frail, and malnourished. This is not the case. While it’s true that those who follow a vegetarian meal plan do need to be more careful about which food choices they make in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies, a vegetarian diet can be just as healthy, if not healthier than a non-vegetarian plan.

One of the primary areas to focus on will be your lean protein intake. Failing to get enough protein could lead to a loss of lean muscle mass, which would leave you feeling weaker and more prone to weight gain as you experience a reduced resting metabolic rate, therefore getting enough in is essential. One thing to also note is that there is no need to worry about food combining like some vegetarians do. Provided you are taking in a wide variety of foods over the course of the day, you should have no problem getting in sufficient amounts of the required essential amino acids.

Let’s take a closer look at the six best vegetarian protein sources that you should be considering.

Black Beans

Black BeansBlack beans are a good vegetarian protein source to be adding to your diet regularly. Black beans earn top marks for boosting your digestive health as they can help lower your risk factor for colon cancer while ensuring that you stay healthy. This is thanks to the fact they contain a high amount of indigestible fraction, which is a substance used to make butyric acid. This fuels the cells in the lower digestive tract to function optimally.

Black beans will provide you with an excellent dose of folate, copper, manganese, vitamin B1, phosphorus, magnesium, as well as a good dose of iron along with the protein and complex carbohydrates they provide. The high fiber content they contain also makes them ideal for lowering your cholesterol levels, improving cardiovascular function and decreasing your risk for heart disease. They’re a highly versatile food and can easily be eaten on their own, mixed with some rice (a common vegetarian dish), used in soups or stews, or blended up and used in spreads or baked dishes.

Chickpeas

ChickpeasDon’t overlook adding chickpeas to your diet as well. These are a fantastic source of dietary fiber, providing 12.5 grams per one cup serving. They provide not only the protein that you’re looking for, but complex carbohydrates as well. That makes these a perfect energising food to eat before any exercise session.

They’re also going to provide a very strong dose of folate, giving you 71% of your total daily needs. This makes them a great food for any woman who is either trying to get pregnant or currently pregnant. Chickpeas will also provide a quarter of your daily intake for iron per cup serving, so will help keep your energy up as well. Chickpeas are also a rich source of antioxidant phytonutrients, which act as antioxidants in the body and can help lower oxidation levels while also improving heart health.

Try preparing them into a delicious hummus or using them to make baked foods such as muffins or loaves.

Quinoa

QuinoaNext up on the list of fantastic protein sources for vegetarians is quinoa. Quinoa is a grain that is quite comparable to brown rice in terms of how you can use it. However it is different, in that it provides a complete source of protein all on its own. It’s the only grain that has that complete spectrum of amino acids, so stands out as one of the best go-to sources for vegetarians. It’s also higher in total protein content, coming in at 8 grams of protein per one cup cooked.

In addition to that, quinoa is also rich in iron, magnesium, manganese, and is a fantastic source of dietary fiber. The iron content is especially notable as many vegetarians do fall short in this department. One great thing about quinoa is that it’s very versatile and can be used as a side dish or used to prepare casseroles, served as a morning breakfast cereal, or even used when making muffins or cookies.

Tofu