Power Up With Plant-Based Proteins
It's true! There's protein in food that doesn't contain meat. It's called plant-based protein and it comes from a variety of healthy ingredients including lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds, peas, and even in dark leafy greens. In fact, you may have noticed it on the packaging of energy bars which aren't reserved about mentioning how much protein they contain. Those powerful protein nutrients come from plant-based foods.
Meat-based protein does have a high biological value because its amino acid content is similar to humans which increases its efficiency of use in the body. However, it does come with drawbacks because it contains cholesterol and saturated fats which may impact heart health. While few plant-based foods offer a complete protein, your body does create protein from the nutrients provided by the various plant-foods you eat. Plus you get a healthy dose of fiber with each serving.
But many still worry if they are getting enough protein. However, according to the American Dietetic Association, plant-based foods provide all of the nutrients we need to stay healthy.
Most importantly, all nutrients work in symphony with each other. There has been too much value placed on protein as a single nutrient in the diet. By eating a range of plant-based whole foods, you actually receive the full range of amino acids, complex carbohydrates, and anti-oxidants necessary for balanced health along with a wealth of vitamins and minerals which are less abundant in meat products. In fact, by trying plant-based proteins, you're actually consuming a healthy level of protein instead of an excess of protein which may have longer term health implications.
This may be reflected in the positive long term health outcomes of people who live on vegan, vegetarian, or Mediterranean diets which have much lower meat-protein consumption or none at all. Studies of the Loma Linda vegetarian community in southern California suggest that longevity is increased by diet.
There are easy ways to get plant-based proteins. Cooking at home with a wide range of vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, beans, and dark leafy greens are an excellent way to get healthy nutrients. If you don't have time to cook every meal, try protein rich snacks such as almonds, protein chips, cashews, snack bars, and roasted chickpeas. Once you start adding these great protein sources to your diet, you'll enjoy a healthier way of living.