8 Best Sources Of Protein For Vegetarian Diet
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8 Best Sources Of Protein for Vegetarian Diet

Even though I am not a vegetarian, I spent many years following a fairly strict vegetarian diet. I really like vegetables, especially those you can easily eat raw.

However, during this vegetarian period, I always worried about how to get enough protein. Without sufficient protein in your diet, you can experience loss of muscle mass, especially as you age.

Protein helps builds muscle mass since it makes up the the building blocks of the body, and is necessary for good health. Most people get their daily protein from animal sources in the form of meat, dairy or eggs. However, there are many great sources of protein that are plant-based. Here is a list of my favorites:

Lentils and Beans

One of the starchy proteins, these two are good sources of not only protein, but also carbohydrates and fiber. They are great when added as a topping on a salad, as taco filling or to make vegetarian meatballs or burgers. One cup of cooked lentils contains about 18 grams of protein; about 15 grams in the same size serving of beans.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are known as a complete protein, because they contain all nine essential amino acids, they are also a great source for Omega-3 fatty acid. Boost your protein intake by adding them to soups, stews, salads, baked goods, or to smoothies. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain about 10 grams of protein.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are one of the ancient grains different than most other types of plant protein in that they turn into a type of gel when added to water. Add them to oatmeal, cold cereals, or in muffins to increase the protein content and add soluble fiber to your diet. Two tablespoons contain about 4 grams of protein.

Quinoa

This is another starchy protein that is great when served like a bed of rice or as part of a stir-fry. It can also be served as a hot cereal or as a topping on a salad. One-half cup of quinoa has about 7 to 9 grams of protein.

Spirulina

Here is an entirely different source than other plant-based protein in that it is blue-green in color comes from algae. Notice that it will give a greenish tint to whatever it is mixed with. It blends great as part of a smoothie or in desserts and snacks. It does have a great sweet taste with hints of vanilla and chocolate and has about 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons.

Nutritional Yeast

Actually, this is not a yeast at all, but a staple food item among plant-based food enthusiasts. It comes in either powder or flaked form and can be mixed in sauces, dips and dressings to kick up the flavor with its cheesy taste. Nutritional yeast has about 12 grams of protein per 3 tablespoons.

Seeds and Nuts

Beside the seeds already mentioned, sunflower, flax and pumpkin are also good sources of protein and minerals, and so are almonds, walnuts, cashews and pistachios. Most have a taste varying from sweet to earthy.

They work well when ground into a flour and used in baked goods. They are great when left whole as a topping on oatmeal, cereals, sprinkled on a salad or as a snack. One-fourth cup of either seeds or nuts has about 7 to 9 grams of protein.

Soy

No list of plant protein would be complete without soy. Tempeh, tofu and edamame are all types of soy that have around 20 grams of protein per 2.5 tablespoon serving. It's used in a similar way to beans and lentils and can be added to stir-fry. It can also used as a thickening ingredient for spaghetti sauce and filling for tacos.

As you can see, with all these sources of plant-based protein, I did not need to worry about consuming enough protein during my vegan and vegetarian years. You just need to be sure to cycle through all of the sources to ensure getting enough of the essential amino acids found in protein.


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