Importance of Protein
Protein is crucial for every cell in your body. It needs protein so that your body repairs itself from the daily wear and tear of muscles and recovers faster. Children and teenagers also need it for proper growth and development. Its structure is made of amino acids. There is enough protein rich food for vegetarians to maintain good health and well-being.
Surprisingly, it also helps to fight against various infections by building antibodies. Proteins play an essential role in maintaining concentrations of acids and bases in your bodily fluids (since they are neutral molecules). They also have other functions, including forming enzymes and hormones.
Is Non-Vegetarian Food Really Needed For Protein Intake?
Let’s understand what the real difference is between non-vegetarian and vegetarian food. Non-vegetarian food primarily consists of meat, eggs, and seafood, mainly intended to provide protein and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that keeps your blood and nerve cells healthy. Yes, both of them are highly essential.
While most people around the globe are moving towards vegetarianism, what could be the reason for this? Why is this happening if non-vegetarian food provides two of the most important nutrients? Well, probably because the human body needs more than just protein and vitamin B12. (1)
Yes, that’s right. We need a lot more than just these two. Various types of vitamins, minerals, fats, water, and carbohydrates, but that’s a different case altogether. We are focusing on protein-rich vegetarian food, which also provides other enough nutrients to keep our minds and body healthy.
5 facts about protein:
- Protein has a lifespan of 2 days or less.
- It decides the structure of your body and is required for growth, healing, and reproduction.
- One gram of protein provides 4 calories.
- The human mechanism doesn’t allow the protein to get stored. Hence, we need it every day.
- Plant-based proteins are healthier than animal-based proteins because they contain immense dietary fiber, no cholesterol, and lesser fat.
8 Best Protein Rich Vegetarian Foods:
As we all know, meat and other sources of non-vegetarian food contain plenty amount of protein. However, it is not right to claim that a vegetarian diet comes up short in this regard. Remember, it is much healthier.
If you are physically active, lifting weights, or want to gain muscle, you need to ensure that you get enough protein. Most vegetarians take protein powder to meet their daily requirements, but there are a lot of other protein-rich vegetarian foods which also provide other essential nutrients. These include:
1) Beans: These belong to one of the most important food sources worldwide. They are unique among plants because of their high protein content. Especially vegetarians should include this in their diet as regularly as possible.
Beans also provide sufficient amounts of vitamin B1, B6, iron, magnesium, and calcium. They also contain folate, which is essential to make healthy red blood cells, contributing to overall health. Also, other benefits include better heart health, reduced risk of cancer, and improved digestive health.
2) Nuts: They are excellent sources of protein, fiber, healthy fats, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and B. They also aid in weight loss despite their high-calorie count. Since they are low in saturated fat, consuming them instead of animal protein can help reduce bad cholesterol. Hence, they significantly improve heart health as well.
Eating them on a daily basis can help meet your needs for protein, which is required for bone and muscle strength. Moreover, they are good to go with any snack making them crunchy and delicious.
Some of the protein-rich nuts are:
- Cashew nuts
3) Seitan: It is also called wheat meat. It is one hundred percent vegan and made out of hydrated gluten. It contains high amounts of proteins with low carbs and minimal fats, making it the best choice for all vegetarian bodybuilders.
100 g of seitan contains 75 g of protein, which is fair competition against any meat foods such as chicken. Overall, seitan is perfect for people who need more protein in their lifestyle to lose weight and for muscle building.
4) Sprouts: They are excellent sources of protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, folate, and magnesium. They are very nutritious and have a wide range of benefits, such as better gut health, improved blood sugar levels, and a lower risk of heart disease.
Sprouts can be consumed raw or cooked, depending on the type. Generally, they are eaten after they are cooked but make sure that even if you want to eat them raw, they need to be slightly heated to kill the unwanted bacteria.
Types of interesting beansprouts:
- Kidney bean
5) Fruits and Vegetables: Almost all fruits and vegetables contain protein to some extent. Vegetables containing the most protein include broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocado, and asparagus. They provide 3.5-5 grams of protein per cooked cup.
A type of grain called sweetcorn also has almost the same amount of protein as these vegetables mentioned above.
Fruits typically contain less protein than vegetables, but they are very much healthy. Those including the most protein include blackberries, bananas, guava, jackfruit, and mulberries.
6) Seeds: Pumpkin, hemp, flax, and chia seeds are great sources of fiber, protein, omega-3, vitamins, minerals, and various other nutrients. They can be consumed regularly to help you feel super active all day long.
When they are consumed along with your side diet, it helps contribute to better well-being by managing your blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
7) Lentils (Dal): Most Indians have this in their diet almost every day, be it urad, arhar, or moong. Lentils are the way to go for your intake of protein, fiber, and several other essential nutrients such as folate and potassium.
They don’t even cost you much. You can have it with a bowl of rice or roti for a fulfilling meal.
8) Paneer/Cheese: Paneer is loaded with lots of healthy fats and milk proteins that make it a good source for developing bones, muscles, teeth, and skin. It is good to eat every day only when the intake is moderate. However, if you do heavy workouts, you require the right amount of protein to get your pump going.
Cheese is also beneficial for people with diabetes and heart diseases as it regulates blood pressure levels and manages cholesterol.