Benefits of Plant-Based Proteins
Plant-based diets can help reduce your risk of heart disease and lose inches, but they’re not all created equal. We have known that cutting out some types of red and processed meats can help decrease risks, but do you have to cut out all meats and all animal products to benefit? Due to the overwhelming amount of information out there, we decided to look further into a few of the types of plant proteins.
Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains seems intuitive, but when it comes to protein, many people become confused as to top plant-based sources. Protein is one nutrient that needs more consideration because not all plant sources contain suitable amounts. And because exercise initiates the breakdown of muscle protein, consuming enough protein from food helps ensure we get all the amino acids needed to repair and rebuild these proteins — along with synthesizing new muscle tissue. So, if you’re wondering what plant sources will give you the biggest muscle-building payoff, take a look at a few of these:
- Quinoa – This seed is edible and contains massive amounts of protein! It is high in fiber and is loaded with tons of vitamins and minerals. And it’s actually a whole protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. This includes the three muscle-building branched-chain amino acids: valine, leucine, and isoleucine. It can be used in salads, wraps, a way to build a plant-based burger, and can be a savory side item too!
- Tofu – A naturally flavorless item that is high in protein and is soybean-based. It takes on the flavor of whatever you cook with (think soy sauce) and contains 20 grams of protein in one cup. It’s great when added to a veggie-rich noodle or rice-based stir-fry. And if you’ve never tried the soft versions, blend with some strawberries and almond milk for a high-protein breakfast smoothie.
- Black Beans – Want to fuel your muscles with a carb and protein-rich food? This is the one for you! They have 16 grams of protein in 1 cup and can be used in all sorts of dishes. Mexican burritos, on salads, and even to make brownies!!!
If embracing a fully plant-based diet feels intimidating, then begin small. “A moderate change in your diet, such as lowering your animal food intake by one to two servings per day and replacing it with legumes or nuts as your protein source, can have a lasting positive impact on your health,” says Dr. Satija of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
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