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10 Protein-Packed Plants

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10 Protein-Packed Plants

 

The continuing debate over how much protein the average person needs* has done little to change our hunger for it. And who can blame us? Protein is one of the basic building blocks of life.

When most people think of protein though, images of cheese, eggs and a leg of lamb pop into their head. Did you know though that every – yes, every  – whole food contains protein. From your morning banana to your evening salad, you’re getting protein. Finding plants packed with protein is easy to do, and not only is it easy to do, it is easy for your body to use.

Plant-based foods are free from cholesterol, tend to be high in fiber, and are often alkalizing to the body. All animal products, on the other hand, are devoid of fiber, and are acidifying to the body, which causes calcium to be leached from your bones, as well as decreasing oxygen levels in the blood, and negatively impacting the digestive/lymphatic system.

You may have heard the ongoing debate about “complete” or “incomplete” protein and “food combining”, but be wary; these topics are steeped in misinformation and myth. Here’s what I’ve discovered thus far:

The term “complete protein” refers to foods that have all nine essential amino acids present in the correct proportion for our bodies to build protein with. The term “incomplete protein” refers to foods which have all the essential amino acids, but are simply low in one or more of them. This is called the “limiting amino acid”. While it’s true that most whole plant foods have one or more limiting amino acids and are thus “incomplete”, this shouldn’t send you running for a steak. Our bodies are brilliant, and every food that goes into your system must be broken apart and its nutrients absorbed. During the digestion process, amino acid chains from all sources are broken down and made ready for our bodies to use. If you’re eating a good mix of fruits, veggies, grains and legumes, then your body simply collects what it needs from the “amino soup” that your digestion system has absorbed. There are a growing number of vegan bodybuilders, ultra marathon runners and award-winning athletes out there to prove that meeting your protein needs on a plant-based diet is simple and successful.

Since every whole food has protein in it, you have literally millions of great options to choose from when it comes to creating a balanced diet with the right percentage of protein for your body*. I’ve selected ten nutritious plants to get you started, for both their protein content and other health benefits. You may be surprised at some of the veggies, nuts and grains that made it onto my list.

 

*More is not necessarily better when it comes to protein.  Many healthcare professionals are now arguing that recommended daily allowance for protein is too high. No matter whose recommendation you choose to follow, the fact is that each person’s protein needs are different, but all can be met with a plant-based diet.

 

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Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Health, Vegan, Vegetarian,

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

201 comments

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6:19AM PST on Nov 6, 2013

Thank you for this information. We are vegetarians and my husband constantly tells me that we are not getting enough protein. I will ask him to read this.

5:14AM PDT on Oct 28, 2013

Quinoa is not a grain. It is a seed and there's a big difference.

USDA requirements are a marketing plan not nutritional science.

6:32AM PDT on Oct 13, 2013

Never tried quinoa but perhaps I will now - thanks

3:19PM PDT on Oct 12, 2013

Nice article. I eat all of these except broccoli.

8:59AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

Good article.

2:12PM PDT on Oct 2, 2013

Knew about the nuts and spinach, but very surprised about the oats, broccoli, and cauliflower!

7:24AM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

Thanks

5:26AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

Thanks.

3:00PM PDT on Sep 14, 2013

Good post,thanks for sharing

10:07AM PDT on Aug 30, 2013

Thanks for the info.

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