A plant-based diet emphasizes whole plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans and excludes or minimizes animal products. Plant-based diets have been associated with various health benefits such as lowered risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancers, and obesity.
It's important to approach a plant-based diet in a balanced way, ensuring that you get all the essential nutrients your body needs. One of the main concerns with following a strictly plant-based diet is getting adequate amounts of protein.
Here are 7 plant-based foods that are packed with protein to help you meet your needs on a plant-based diet:
1. Lentils - Lentils add nine grams of protein per half cup and almost 15 grams of fiber. They are a great addition to your meal.
2. Nutritional yeast - Nutritional yeast contains no dairy or active yeast, and it is found in a powder/flake form. It’s great for making dairy-free sauces, topping for popcorn and in dressings. A two-tablespoon serving has 8 grams of protein. For more information, look at our Nutritional Yeast post.
3. Hemp seeds - Hemp seeds have many nutritional benefits, including seven to nine grams of protein per ounce, fiber and magnesium.
4. Chia seeds - Chia seeds are rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. The two-tablespoon serving of chia seeds contains four grams of protein.
5. Quinoa - Quinoa is a complete protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.
6. Tofu - Tofu is an excellent source of amino acids, iron, calcium and other micro-nutrients.
7. Black beans - Black beans are one of the richest sources of antioxidants and one of the healthiest choices of all the beans and legumes. Their dark color indicates the strong antioxidant content.
Contrary to popular belief, meat is not the only source of protein, nor must you have large amounts of protein in your diet to stay healthy. Most people consume enough protein. Additional nutritional and health benefits can be achieved when protein comes from plant-based foods.
It's important to note that individual responses to diet can vary, and it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making significant changes to your diet.
Learn more about plant-based nutrition and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Jackie Santiago, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern