Power of Plants – Protein

power of plants

Good morning and happy Friday everyone! I am starting a new blogging series called: “The Power of Plants” in which I will be discussing the benefits of consuming a predominately plant based diet and debunking some very popular myths. I thought that I would first start off with the topic that everyone seems to talk about: PROTEIN.

Myth #1: It is essential to consume meat in order to get enough protein

In today’s day and age we are constantly told to consume more protein, and that if we want to be healthy our protein should come from animal sources (whether that be dairy, meat, eggs, fish etc ) but the fact is we are over consuming protein by about 50-100% above our recommended amounts ( which is only 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight eg. weight=50kg, protein recommendation=40g ). You may be thinking “Okay, but what’s the harm in that?” well currently there is no conclusive evidence to suggest long term benefits from consuming an extremely high protein diet, and in fact it may actually have some harmful effect including excessive loss of body calcium as well as an accelerating decline in age-related renal function.

So, where do you get your protein…?

This is a VERY common question that I get asked, and when I answer I tend to receive an eye roll in response, but in reality it isn’t that hard to consume enough protein from a plant based diet! Here is a list of high protein, plant based foods with (roughly) their protein content:

  1. Legumes
    1. Black Beans: 15.2 g per 1 cup
    2. Garbanzo Beans: 14.5 g per 1 cup
    3. Lentils: 17.9 g per 1 cup
    4. Pinto Beans: 14.0 g per 1 cup
  2. Nuts/Seeds
    1. Almonds: 7.5 g per 1/4 cup
    2. Cashes: 5.2 g per 1/4 cup
    3. Pumpkin Seeds: 8.5 g per 1/4 cup
    4. Flaxseeds: 3.7 g per 2 tbsp.
  3. Grains
    1. Oatmeal, cooked: 3 g per 1/2 cup
    2. Brown Rice, cooked: 2.3 g per 1/2 cup
    3. Quinoa, cooked: 3 g per 1/2 cup
  4. Vegetables:
    1. Broccoli, raw: 2.6 g per 1 cup
    2. Cauliflower, cooked: 1 g per 1/2 cup
    3. Kale, raw: 2.2 g per 1 cup
    4. Sweet potato, baked: 2 g per 4 oz.

To compare lets look at animal based products for protein content (roughly):

  1. Dairy Products/Eggs:
    1. 2% Cows Milk: 4.1 g per 1/2 cup
    2. Low-Fat Yogurt: 6.4 g per 1/2 cup
    3. Large Egg: 6.3 g per 1 large egg
  2. Animal Products:
    1. Ground Beef: 10.6 g per 2 oz.
    2. Roasted Chicken: 17.9 g per 2 oz.
    3. Salmon, baked: 13.4 g per 2 oz.

Myth #2: Plant Based protein is of poor availability & digestibility 

Remember how in this post HERE I discussed how proteins are made from a combination of amino acids? Well you can get amino acids from plants, and there is really no difference between the amino acids found in animal products and those found in plant based foods. Although, yes, some proteins are less available in certain whole grains,legumes and vegetables that just means that as vegetarian or vegan you may have to increase your protein requirement by 10-15%. However the extent to which we digest and absorb the proteins available depends on each individual product as well as how the food is prepared or processed. We know that sprouting or germinating beans before we cook them increases the digestibility and can increase the product content of plant based proteins. Cooking or processing certain produce can also be beneficial as it increases the amount of protein as well as some minerals and phytochemicals become more readily available.

Random tip of the day:  Know the song:”Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot…”? Well, simply cook your beans and you will become less gaseous. Your family can thank me later.

Myth #3: You must protein combine at every meal

What is protein combining? Protein combining is when you consume two types of plant based proteins at one time in order to create a ‘complete protein’ ( a complete protein is a protein that contains all the amino acids needed for the body to properly function ), an example of this would be beans & rice, oatmeal topped with nuts/seeds etc. This belief is a little out dated, we now know that as long as you eat a variety of whole plant based foods through out the day and you consume enough calories you will be able to attain sufficient amino acids from your diet.

For some simple & healthy meal ideas check out these blog posts: HEREHERE & HERE!

Hope you all have a very healthy weekend!

Joy xx.

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*I am not here to tell you how you should eat, I am simply trying to provide education. By consuming a predominantly plant based diet you lessen your chances of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Always remember to consult a health care professional before making dramatic changes to your diet.*


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