Plant-based protein is growing in popularity, but does it supply all the essential nutrients your body needs, and what are the best sources?
Protein and your diet - Protein is a vital nutrient. It helps your body grow, repair, produce hormones and builds muscle. Protein may also help you to feel fuller for longer, satisfying you appetite and allowing you to reduce portions or minimise snacking between meals. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Some of these amino acids can’t be manufactured by the body, and are referred to as essential amino acids (there's nine in total) because we need to obtain them from our diet. "Complete proteins" are foods that contain all nine essential amino acids, including meat, dairy and eggs.
Some plant-based foods contain all the essential amino acids (such as quinoa, soy, and chia seeds) while others (such as nuts and legumes) have a mix of some and not others. But if you eat a variety of different plant-based protein foods each day such as nuts, legumes, soy and grains, you can easily get all the essential amino acid the body needs.
The advantages of plant based proteins:
- They contain no cholesterol, and minimal saturated fats
- They contain fibre which is great for healthy digestion
- They provide key nutrients for people on vegetarian or vegan diets
Eat more of these plant-based protein foods:
Nuts and seeds - Nuts and seeds are rich in protein and fibre. They are filling, nutritious and versatile. Eat as a snack, on your breakfast cereal, in smoothies, with fruit and yoghurt, or as peanut butter on wholegrain toast or with vegetable sticks. Nuts and seeds are also high in good fats (and kilojoules), so keep your portions under control.
Ancient grains - Beyond wheat, rice and corn are a variety of ancient grains which are being rediscovered, including amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa and millet. While they all have different nutrition profiles, in general, they are higher in protein and nutrients compared to the common, most commercial grains and have a distinctive and rich nutty flavour. Plus, they add variety and texture to your diet.
Legumes - Legumes (also known as pulses) are a broad category of foods that includes chickpeas, lentils, cannellini beans, red kidney beans, mung beans, and split peas. Because of their high protein content, legumes are sometimes referred to as the poor man's meat. They are also high in fibre, reducing their rate of digestion, giving you fullness and sustained energy. Serve in salads, casseroles, soups, or as hummus on wholegrain crackers or with vegetable sticks.
Mango and nutmeg power shake
1 scoop Ancient Grains Protein Powder
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango
1/4 cup ice
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender for 30 - 60 seconds, or until smooth and frothy.
2. Pour into a glass and sprinkle with extra nutmeg.