The Best Protein You Can Eat

Last week, I asked you: What’s the number one question every vegan is asked? Of course, it’s: Where do you get your protein? An article published today in US News & World Report discusses the top 9 sources of protein; several of the sources are plant based, none are red meat or “the other white meat.”

A study performed by Rajavel Elango, a nutrition and metabolism researcher with the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health discusses the nine essential amino acids. It indicates — for most vegetarians, vegans, and readers of our website, this is nothing new — that you can get those nine essential amino acids from animal protein, but no one plant-based provides all nine essential amino acids; you need to get them from a variety of sources.

Since this is a vegan website, I’ll only list those protein sources that are plant based, starting with number four on their list, grains:

SOURCE: SUSANNE NILSSON via FLICKR
SOURCE: SISANNE NILSSON via FLICKR

Whole Grains

These heart-healthy grains contain more protein than complex carbs (which are vital to your fiber intake, heart health and weight-loss success). Among the best sources are quinoa, bulgur and freekeh, White says. All contain 6 or more grams per cooked cup, and quinoa is actually one of the few “complete” plant-based proteins out there, meaning it contains all of the nine essential amino acids.

SOURCE: UNITED SOY BEAN BOARD via FLICKR
SOURCE: UNITED SOY BEAN BOARD via FLICKR

Legumes

These guys are as rich in protein as they are in heart-healthy fiber. Plus, they’re solid sources of B vitamins, according to Elango. Opt for beans, lentils, soybeans (edamame) and peas. Even peas contain 8 grams of protein per cup. Impressive, no?

SOURCE: STEFFEN ZAHN via FLICKR
SOURCE: STEFFEN ZAHN via FLICKR

Nuts

They are known for being rich in healthy unsaturated fatty acids, but they’ve also got a lot of protein going on. Plus, people who eat a handful of nuts per day are 20 percent less likely to die from any cause compared to those who don’t eat nuts, according to a 2013 New England Journal of Medicine study.

SOURCE: ALICE HENNEMAN via FLICKR
SOURCE: ALICE HENNEMAN via FLICKR

Leafy Greens

Calorie for calorie, kale, collard greens and other leafy greens are surprisingly rich in protein. For instance, a 70-calorie serving of spinach contains about 10 grams of protein. While greens don’t contain all of the amino acids you need, pairing them with beans and legumes can help make them “complete” with the nine essential amino acids.

So four of the top nine sources of protein are plant-based. As indicated, vegans need to get protein from multiple sources. My favorite was is via my daily smoothie. Each morning, I have a smoothie which contains kale or some other leafy green like spinach and almond butter or peanut butter amongst several other ingredients; typically a banana and whatever fresh or frozen fruit we have on hand. The combination or leafy greens and nut butters ensures that I am my daily dose of complete protein.

Make sure that all of you maintain a plant-based diet are getting all of your nine essential amino acids every day. And tell your friends that your sources of protein are better sources than red meat and pork… at least according to this study.

 



Get Vegan Bits

Subscribe to Vegan Bits. Get beautiful images, recipes, and vegan-related news in your email.

You have Successfully Subscribed!