Protein is an important nutrient for our bodies. It provides the building blocks for muscle tissue and is also used to synthesize hormones, enzymes, and other body chemicals.
Protein deficiency can cause muscle wasting and fatigue, among other symptoms. A healthy diet should contain a modest amount of protein — 0.8 to 1 gram per kilogram of body weight per day. However, many people are not getting enough protein in their diets.
Fortunately, it’s easy to get adequate amounts of protein as a vegan or vegetarian by eating a variety of whole foods that provide protein.
Legumes: Legumes include beans, lentils, peas and peanuts. They are rich in protein and fiber, which means that they help you feel full longer. Legumes also contain iron and folate (folic acid), both of which help prevent anemia (lack of red blood cells). Soybeans are another excellent source of protein.
- Nuts: Walnuts and almonds are great choices because they’re high in monounsaturated fat, which lowers LDL cholesterol levels while raising HDL cholesterol levels (which is better). Almonds are also rich in magnesium and calcium — two nutrients that many Americans don’t get enough of. Nuts can be sprinkled on salads or added to dishes like stir-fries or pasta sauces instead of cheese.
- Quinoa: This grain is a complete protein, meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle. It’s also gluten-free and has a fluffy texture that makes it easy to cook and eat.
- Chia seeds: These tiny seeds have been gaining popularity as a superfood in recent years due to their high fiber content, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. They’re also one of the best sources of antioxidants in the world.
- Hemp seeds: Hemp seeds contain all 20 amino acids needed by humans — including eight essential amino acids — so they can be used as a source of protein in place of animal products like eggs or milk. They’re also rich in heart-healthy fats and minerals like magnesium and zinc, making them an excellent addition to any diet!