Want to Eat Healthier? 4 Plant Based Protein Foods You Should Know


American consumers are fast keeping a closer watch on what they eat with 40% incorporating more vegan foods in their daily diet. Studies now link plant based proteins (and other plant-based foods) with lower rates of cancer and heart disease. While consumers flock to these vegan options, there is a concern that such fares may not have sufficient protein levels.

The secret to a vegan offering that helps you get all the protein you need is proper planning. You need to know what type of plant protein to consume, how much of it to take, and whether you need to blend it with other protein sources. Here’s a look at some plant protein sources to help you plan your diet.

1. Seitan

Seitan, also known as wheat gluten or wheat protein, is one of the most popular plant based proteins made from gluten. Seitan is a plant based meat substitute rich in selenium. It also contains a few amounts of phosphorous, iron and calcium. Despite it originating from wheat, seitan barely shares any commonalities with flour and bread. It forms the foundation for some commercial vegan products.

The reason seitan is extremely popular is that it has a remarkably accurate feel and texture comparable to meat when you cook it. Speaking of cooking, you can prepare it in several ways such as pan-frying and grilling. Seitan is low in fat (one gram per serving) and carbohydrates (eight grams per serving). Although it provides around 25 grams of protein per 100 grams, seitan lacks some essential amino acids. Thus, you should combine it with other protein sources to provide complete protein in a meal such as nuts, grains, and beans.

2. Lentils

Lentils are a form of plant based proteins from the legume family. Aside from their high protein content, They offer some other nutritious value. For example, they contain soluble fiber, which helps you reduce cholesterol levels while also stabilizing your blood sugar. As a result, it can help you lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Lentils also have insoluble fiber which boosts your digestion, preventing constipation and other digestive problems.

As one of the most notable vegan meat substitutes, lentils contain a significant portion of proteins as part of their overall nutritional makeup (26%). They are also quite high in folates (one cup of cooked lentils contains 90% of your recommended daily intake) which stimulates new bod cell creation.

3. Tempeh

Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian product originating from fermented and cooked soybeans. The fermentation is essential as it makes the starch present in tempeh easier to digest by breaking down phytic acid present in the soybeans. As a beef substitute, tempeh contains probiotics, B vitamins (B2, B3, and B6) and several minerals. It has an earthy, mildly savory taste which can at times be mistaken for mushrooms. When used in a dish, it provides a neutral base for most foods which can help you use it in a variety of ways.

Tempeh has a higher fiber content than tofu, meaning that it will help with your digestion as well as stabilizing your blood sugar. If you have a problem eating gluten, then you should be careful when buying tempeh as it contains other grains like millet and rice.

4. Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of cheese-flavored yeast that looks like yellow powder or flakes. It is unique among other meat substitutes as it is a complete source of protein. When you fortify nutritional yeast, it becomes a source of other dietary elements such as zinc, manganese, copper, and all the B vitamins, including B12. Note that if you opt to rely on unfortified nutritional yeast, then you will need to supplement it with a source of vitamin B12.

Eat the Right Plant Based Proteins

Plant based proteins are becoming more common in diets across the United States. A primary concern, however, is whether these animal protein alternatives can deliver the necessary protein intake. With a little planning, you will know which plant protein sources work for you and how you should blend them in your meals for optimal nutritional value.

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