by Dr Rupy Aujla06 Aug 2016
Why should we be eating more plant based protein when we can just eat meat? Meat’s a convenient source of all 9 essential amino acids, it has the added source of Iron, B12 not to mention great fatty acids in wild fish.
Plant based sources on the other hand have lots of fibre, added minerals, vitamins and non-traditional nutrients called phytochemicals that protect our DNA by reducing oxidative stress.
I personally choose to have a varied diet consisting of largely plant based ingredients and I think the majority of people would benefit from having more plants on their plates!
A lot of people don’t realise the protein punch of vegetables so I’ve decided to post my favourite plant based proteins!
1. Hemp Seeds
A 1/3 pure protein with elements of all 9 essential aminos and contains omega 3 fatty acids. Hemp seeds are a staple in my post workout protein shake! It’s nutty, I bulk salads with it, toast with spices and even chuck it into my overnight oats. Compared to other protein shakes on the market, it’s far cheaper and an unrefined source of nutrition. Winner.
Broccoli, Asparagus, Spinach etc are fantastic sources of protein plus Folate, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Vitamin C .. the list continues! The anti-inflammatory effects of greens are astounding and studies demonstrate clear links between reduced cancer incidence and cardiovascular disease. I tend to always have a cup of spiced, steamed greens with every meal, blended into protein smoothies or just grilled and smothered in tahini!
These can contain over 35% protein with the added benefit of fibre, prebiotic material to provide your gut bacteria with material to thrive off and B vitamins to support your liver’s job of removing toxins from your body. As well as traditional nutrients they can also contain plant chemicals called flavanoids that are implicated in a range of processes that lower inflammation in the body.
Blackbeans in particular are my personal favourite. I make them into falafel, bean hummus, brownies and I recently discovered 100% black bean pasta which are delicious and quicker than regular pasta to cook!
The pure bean from which chocolate is made, cacao is an unusual sources of protein which is over 20% and again includes the full essential amino acid profile with the added benefit of fibre. This goes with out mentioning the immense flavanol antioxidant properties and serotonin boosting effects. It can be expensive, but I think for the protein content and health benefits, it’s much more bang for your back compared to protein powders! 2 scoops always go in my post workout shake, but I get creative and add some to stews to give a delicious bitter sweet taste with added health benefits!
It’s no secret that seeds contain protein, but they also contain great quality fats which are shown to be cardiovascular protective. Some scientific studies demonstrate better effect of a handful of nuts on cholesterol ratios than some of the medications I prescribe! Such is the power of protein packed plant based food! Toasted pumpkin seeds always feature in my porridge recipes or even sprinkled on salads. Another fantastic source!