I am often asked, “What is protein?” “Why do I need it?” “What are some good non-animal sources?” These are all very good questions and I always get excited when someone wants to know more about ‘Plant Protein’! There’s so much to cover I thought an outline of info would be most helpful.
What Is Protein? What Does It Do For Me?
- It is an important component of every cell in the body. It is an organic compound, composed of 22 amino acids, otherwise known as the building blocks of life.
- It is stored in muscles and organs and the body utilizes it to build and repair tissues, as well as for the production of enzymes and hormones.
- Proteins make it possible for blood to carry oxygen throughout the body.
- Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning the body needs relatively large amounts of it.
- Our daily recommended protein requirements should be about 35% of our total caloric intake for adults, with men needing slightly more than women.
- Calculate your amount HERE
- A lack of protein can cause loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, as well as weakening of the heart and respiratory system.
All Protein Not Alike
- Animal sources of protein tend to be complete. They contain all the amino acids needed to build new proteins.
- Incomplete proteins – lack or are low in one or more amino acids that the body can’t make from scratch or create by modifying another amino acid. These usually come from fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. People who don’t eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or dairy products should eat a variety of protein-containing foods each day.
- If you’re eating a good mix of fruits, veggies, grains and legumes, then your body simply collects what it needs from the “amino soup” that your digestion system has absorbed. There are a growing number of vegan bodybuilders, ultra marathon runners and award-winning athletes out there to prove that meeting your protein needs on a plant-based diet is simple and successful.
Can you get too much animal protein?
- All animal products are devoid of fiber.
- Digesting animal proteins releases acids that the body usually neutralizes with calcium and other buffering agents in the blood as well as decreasing oxygen levels in the blood, and negatively impacting the digestive/lymphatic system.
- Eating lots of animal protein, such as the amounts recommended in the so-called low-Carb or no-Carb diets, takes lots of calcium. Some of this may be pulled from bone. Following a high-animal protein diet for a few weeks probably won’t have much effect on bone strength. Doing it for a long time, though, could weaken bones.
PLANT PROTIEN SOURCES
All plant-based foods are practically free from cholesterol, tend to be high in fiber, and are often alkalizing to the body. Some plant proteins contain all the amino acids needed to build new proteins. Some of more common ones are:
- Quinoa – 1 cup cooked is 8.1 grams
- Buckwheat – 1 cup cooked is 5.7 grams
- Soy – ½ cup cooked edamame is 11.1 grams
- Chia seed – 1 ounce (2.75 Tbsp) is 4 grams
- Hemp seed -1 Tbsp hulled is 3.3 grams
PLANT Protein Combining to Make High-Quality Protein
- Legumes provide an essential amino acid called lysine, which is low in many grains.
- Legumes are particularly high in soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and glucose levels. One cup Lentils gives 17.9 grams protein. One cup Beans (Black, Kidney, Mung, Pinto) gives 12-15 grams protein.
- Whole grains provide methionine and cysteine, which are low in legumes, beans, peas, lentils and peanuts.
- Brown rice is higher in protein, fiber and other nutrients than polished white rice. One cup cooked long grain brown rice has 5 grams of protein.
- Wikipedia reports, Oat protein is nearly equivalent in quality to soy protein, which World Health Organization research has shown is equal to meat, milk, and egg protein. One cooked cup of Oats has 6.08 grams of protein
- Whole grains are higher in protein and nutrients than refined grains, such as white bread and pasta
- Grains are commonly used to complement the protein in legumes/beans.
- It is not necessary to combine complementary proteins at the same meal. Just be sure to eat a variety of proteins sources throughout the day.
- Mix two or more of the items on each line below together to make a complete protein.
- Legumes with Grains like brown rice or whole grain bread
- Legumes with Nuts
- Legumes with Seeds
- Vegetables with grains
- All vegetables contain protein. Here are a few that have higher amounts:
So as you can see there are lots of ways to get your plant protein. One of my favorite ways is so simple to make, Curried Lentil Salad. I make a batch to keep a bowl of it in the frig so there is always some healthy plant protein ready-to-eat!
Looking for ways to take the flavor up a notch? Try adding just ONE drop of doTERRA CPTG Essential Oil. I like using Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Wild Orange, you get the idea.