When you think of protein, what comes to mind? Meat? Chicken? Turkey, fish, and pork? While yes, these are all foods very high in protein, there are many other foods that you can incorporate in your diet to reach your protein goals for the day. Plant based protein, which is protein coming from plant food sources, often times comes with many other nutrients in addition to being a good source of protein. Lentils are an amazing source of protein, carbohydrates and fiber. One cup cooked contains about 18g protein. Hemp seeds and chia seeds are also good sources. They contain omega-3 fatty acids too, which are full of health benefits. Whole grains contain some protein, with quinoa being one of the highest sources at 7-8g/cup. Although this protein content doesn’t add up quite as fast as a few ounces of chicken, it is important to consider the amount of protein that can add up over the course of a day by incorporating more plant based foods into your diet! Your fiber intake will likely increase quite a bit too, and plant based foods are full of vitamins and minerals. Beans are another excellent plant based protein source. One cup of cooked beans has about 15 grams. Soy foods such as tempeh, tofu and edamame are plant based protein sources that are actually a complete protein, meaning they contain all essential amino acids. These sources often contain healthy fats too. Nuts, seeds, and soy beans are full of heart healthy unsaturated fats, while also being a great protein source.
Plant based protein foods are low in saturated fat, as compared with many animal sources, such as beef, pork, and other fatty meats or full fat dairy foods. Seafood and lean poultry are very high in protein while also containing very little fat, but it could be healthful to decrease consumption of meats and compensate by increasing plant based protein foods in your diet. You will be surprised how much protein can add up over the course of the day by choosing more plant-based foods. In addition, the high fiber content of these foods is so good for your health and can not only help keep you satiated after a meal, but also aid in the prevention of certain diseases.