The Surprising Health Benefits of Plant Protein

The Surprising Health Benefits of Plant Protein

Switching to a plant-based diet has its challenges. However, the lack of protein isn’t one of them. Grocery shopping, meal prep, and cooking are the hard part. Nutritionists agree that plant protein is just as good as and even better than animal protein. Unlike meat and dairy, vegetable foods have no cholesterol or growth hormones. They provide the purest form of protein along with fiber and phytochemicals. If you plan your meals right, it’s virtually impossible to develop a protein deficiency.

 

Why Plant Protein Is Good for You

Increasingly more people are switching to plant protein. World-class athletes, such as ultra marathoner runner Scott Jurek, MMA fighter Mac Danzig, bodybuilding champion Alex Dargatz, and the Williams sisters embraced a vegan diet. Their sports performance is living proof that eating meat and dairy isn’t a prerequisite for success. Plant-based protein gives your body the energy and strength needed to become better at your sports of choice, stay lean, and function optimally.

Most vegetable foods that are rich in protein keep your body in an alkaline state and balance its pH levels. Meat and dairy, on the other hand, are acid-forming, leading to inflammation and chronic diseases. Moreover, plant-based foods are lower in saturated and trans fats, which helps prevent high cholesterol, hypertension, and heart disease.

Plant protein can boost your health on every level. It’s filling, nutritious, and full of flavor. When used as part of a balanced diet, it can help you lose fat, lower blood pressure, and rev up your metabolism. Its benefits are even greater for those who work out regularly. Protein and exercise go hand in hand. This nutrient promotes muscle growth and repair, strengthens your bones, and enhances athletic performance. Over time, it improves your body composition and makes you stronger overall.

Additionally, high-protein vegetable foods contain different nutrients that can not be found in meat and dairy. They’re rich in dietary fiber, flavonoids, anthocyanins, catechins, and plant compounds with medicinal properties. For instance, quinoa, which is considered a complete protein source, keeps you regular and improves digestion due to its high fiber content. The antioxidants in spirulina fight oxidative stress and protect your tissues from free radicals. They also slow down aging and rejuvenate your body.

 

Plant-Based Proteins You Should Be Eating

Contrary to what you may have heard, meat and dairy are not the only sources of complete protein. Quinoa, amaranth, seitan, buckwheat, soy, tempeh, and other plant-based foods contain all nine essential amino acids, which makes them a complete protein source. You can also combine grains and vegetables in one meal to obtain complete protein. Your diet can include high-protein veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, algae, and whole grains, such as:

  • Lentils – 18 grams of protein per cup
  • Green peas – 8 grams of protein per cup
  • Hemp seeds – 10 grams of protein per three tablespoons
  • Chia seeds – 4 grams of protein per two tablespoons
  • Quinoa – 18 grams of protein per cup
  • Spirulina – 8 grams of protein per two tablespoons
  • Nutritional yeast – 12 grams of protein per three tablespoons
  • Flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds – 7-9 grams of protein per 1/4 cup
  • Walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews – 15-19 grams of protein per cup
  • Beans – 15 grams of protein per cup
  • Tofu, tempeh, edamame – 20 grams of protein per serving
  • Chickpeas – 12 grams of protein per cup

Depending on how active you are, get one or more grams of protein per pound of body weight. This nutrient should account for at least 35 percent of your daily calories.

 

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