A plant-based diet is typically considered vegetarian. Vegetarian diets emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans. These diets typically have lower intakes of saturated fat and have been associated with lower risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer and obesity. One of the main concerns with following a plant-based diet is getting adequate amounts of protein.
These plant-based foods are packed with protein:
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.
Written by: Jackie Santiago, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
2: Today's Dietitian