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Getting to Know Plant-Based Protein Sources

posted Apr 27, 2017, 8:12 AM by
The average American today eats as much as 75 more pounds of meat each year compared to past generations and by 2030 the World Health Organization predicts the world will consume nearly twice the amount of meat per year than it did in the 1960s. Producing meat takes a greater toll on the planet than producing plants. If you’ve been thinking about joining the Meatless Mondays movement but you’re not sure where to start, then this blog post is for you. In honor of our final week of Earth Month, we’re talking plant proteins.

Are plant proteins incomplete?

Protein is essential for our survival as they are required for structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. They are made up of a chain of amino acids, some of which are made by the body, and others which we can only get from food – called essential amino acids.

All plant foods have some of every essential amino acid, but in general, legumes are lower in one of them (methionine) while most other plant foods are lower in another (lysine). Studies have found that as long as you eat a variety of foods throughout the day (even if you’re exclusively vegan), you can generally get an adequate amount of these amino acids. This means you no longer have to mix a legume and a grain in each meal – a full day’s tally of what you eat is more important.

What plant-based foods have the most protein?

In general, legumes such as lentils and beans have the most amount of protein per cup. This is followed by nuts and grains. The average man needs about 56 g of protein per day, while the average woman needs about 46 g of protein per day. Here is how much protein you get from these popular foods:

While you don’t have to give up meat, adding more plant-based foods to your diet will not only help the planet, but it will also bring you health benefits, as research has linked plant-based diets with lower risks of heart disease, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers.

More detailed information regarding plant-based protein can be found here. You can also learn about edamame (soybeans) here.