Plants: A Healthy Source of Protein

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Plant Based Korean Dish

When I say protein, you say… meat? Think again! There is a plethora of plant-based sources of protein too. Incorporating them into your diet can benefit you and the world you live in.

Environmental Impact of Meat

A tremendous amount of global resources go into the production of meat. One-third of the world’s fresh water and one-third of the world’s cropland go toward raising livestock. In terms of getting nutrients into humans, this is a far less efficient system compared to humans eating the crops directly. In addition, it’s estimated that one-fifth of all human-created greenhouse gases come from livestock. That’s more than the greenhouse gases from our vehicles!

Plants and Your Health

Incorporating more plants into your diet is good for your health. Research shows that vegetarian populations enjoy lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. If you have some time to really delve into the issue, you might consider adding the documentary Forks Over Knives to your Netflix queue.

Getting Enough Protein

People of all ages and stages can generally get enough protein from plants, from pregnant women to extreme athletes. Take, for example, Mac Danzig, a UFC fighter who has enjoyed a successful fighting career fueled by a vegan diet.

No Way I’m Giving Up Bacon

Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to completely go vegetarian. Instead, why not consider practicing “Meatless Mondays.” Use this one day a week to emphasize plant-based protein and experiment with new recipes! You’ll find lots of fun ideas on www.meatlessmonday.com using the plant-based protein sources listed below.

Plant-Based Protein Sources

When it comes to plant-based protein, variety is key. The building blocks of protein are called amino acids. There are nine amino acids that are termed “essential” because your body cannot make them (you must eat them instead). A couple plant foods contain all nine essential amino acids, including soy beans and quinoa. But so long as you eat a variety of the foods listed below day-to-day, you will be getting all the amino acids you need:

  • Soy beans and soy-derived products such as tofu, tempeh, and soy milk
  • Legumes of all kinds including lentils, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans
  • Nuts and nut butters such as peanut butter and almond butter
  • Seeds such as chia, hemp, pumpkin and many more
  • Whole grains such as quinoa, amaranth, brown rice and others
  • Spirulina, a blue-green algae that is growing in popularity (try adding it to smoothies)
  • Nutritional yeast, which has a cheese-like flavor and can be sprinkled on popcorn or stirred into creamy dishes like mashed potatoes

Comments

  1. Kathryn on April 22, 2016 at 3:43 pm said:

    Great article!

  2. Michael on April 23, 2016 at 6:36 pm said:

    Hmmmm. I’m actually getting more protein out of the veggies I eat than I expected. I need to step up my game on the seeds, though. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Jennifer Brown Wellness LLC - A Dietitian’s Review of “What the Health” Documentary - Jennifer Brown Wellness LLC

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