What Are Plant Based Protein Foods

Complete Protein For Vegans

Top 10 Plant Based Protein Foods. Vegan Protein Sources

Edamame, tempeh, tofu, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and quinoa are all considered complete proteins.

A complete protein source is one that contains all nine essential amino acids. We need each of these nine amino acids for a healthy diet hence why they’re called “essential” amino acids.

Many animal products and byproducts, like steak and eggs, are complete proteins, which is one of the main differences between many vegan and non-vegan diets.

Why Choose More Plant

Shifting dietary patterns to reduce meat consumption and include more protein plants can bring great benefits to both our health and the planet.

Besides having a lower environmental footprint, whole plant foods, such as pulses, legumes and vegetables tend to provide more fibre and antioxidants while being lower in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol compared to animal proteins such as meat and dairy. This is part of the reason why research suggests that people who eat more plant-based tend to have a lower risk of some diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.1

You can read more about the benefits of plant-based diets here.

Trying to eat more plant-based can also make us more creative in the kitchen and reach for foods or ingredients that otherwise we would not consider. This will not only introduce us to a surprising new range of flavours and textures, but also expand the range of beneficial nutrients and compounds that we get from our diets!

Plant Vs Animal Protein

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a minimum daily protein intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 60 g for a person who weighs 165 pounds. People aiming to build muscle, pregnant or nursing women, and older adults may need more protein.

Animal products such as meat, eggs, and milk are naturally high in protein, which is an essential nutrient made up of amino acids. This makes it easier for people who consume animal products to meet their daily protein needs.

The human body creates 11 amino acids but must get another nine from food. Animal products are complete proteins, meaning they contain all the amino acids. Some plant products, such as soya beans and quinoa, are also complete proteins while others are incomplete proteins.

A person following a vegan or vegetarian diet

A diet free of animal products requires planning and research to ensure a persons nutritional needs are met. For some, this is a benefit, as it encourages them to think about their diet and understand the nutritional content of the foods they eat. For others, it can prove challenging and lead to nutritional deficits.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic notes that a vegetarian or vegan diet can lower the risk of some diseases, such as certain forms of heart disease and cancer, and may promote weight loss.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stated in that people on vegetarian or vegan diets are at a lower risk of various illnesses, including:

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/5why Protein Is Required

Proteins are called the building blocks of the body and have a very important role in growth and muscle repair. Every cell of the human body contains protein and there are 10,000 varieties of protein in the body which form organs, muscles and even bone, hair and skin tissues. An average woman needs around 46 grams of protein and an average man needs around 56 grams of it. While 100 grams of fish has 22gms of protein, the same amount of meat has around 26-28 gms of it. Most Dals have around 6-7 gms of protein and even soya has around 12 grams of it per 100 gram.

As a result many new grains/foods with higher protein content have made their way to the Indian markets from around the world. Chia seeds, Hemp and the ancient Indonesian food Tempeh which is made from fermented soybeans are becoming popular in the country as most of them have double the amount of protein that the regular native grains have.

According to nutrition expert Dr.Priyanka Marakini, for vegetarians single sources of high protein play a very significant role as one serving takes care of a large part of the daily need. “Protein is a very important macronutrient that 73% of Indians are deficient in so a good source of protein like tempeh, that is also gut-friendly, aids people to add more protein into their diet.”

/5hemp Seeds Plant Based Meats And More


With the amendment of the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India announced the recognition of Hemp seeds and seed products as a food source. With this, Hemp seeds are back on the tables in their newer avatar-as a high source of plant based proteins.

Similarly, plant based meat burgers made with soy are becoming an essential part of food menus in most restaurants and popular joints like Mcdonald and Dominos.

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Nutritional Yeast May Boost Immunity

Nutritional yeast contains two main carbohydrates alpha-mannan and beta-glucan.

Studies show that adding alpha-mannan and beta-glucan to animal feed can reduce the frequency of infections from pathogenic bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella in pigs, as well as reduce tumor formation in mice .

Beta-glucan and alpha-mannan help protect against infection in several ways :

  • They stop pathogenic bacteria from attaching to the lining of the intestines.
  • They stimulate immune cells, making them more effective at fighting infection.
  • They attach to certain types of toxins that yeast can produce in food crops and reduce their harmful effects.

While animal studies are promising, further research is needed to determine whether alpha-mannan and beta-glucan have these effects in humans.

Summary Nutritional yeast contains the carbohydrates alpha-mannan and beta-glucan, which animal studies suggest may boost immunity.

What Is Plant Protein

Plant protein is the protein found in plants only, not from fish or animals. It can include a variety of foods, though mainly plant proteins are found in nuts , legumes, seeds and beans. Potatoes and some other vegetables also contain protein, including broccoli, kale, asparagus and mushrooms. Another good food that’s filled with plant protein is the nutrient-dense Ezekiel bread, which is made from barley, wheat, lentils, millet, and spelt.

Processed foods such as tempeh, tofu and texturize vegetable protein also contain protein and are often used as a substitute for meat. These ingredients are made with soy beans, which boast between 68 and 22 grams of protein per cup, all depending on how they are cooked. Seitan is another protein-packed processed food that’s made from spiced wheat gluten. It’s slightly rubbery when cold and works well pan fried, grilled and baked.

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Why Is Nutritional Yeast Good For You

Nutritional yeast is a popular food product often used in vegan cooking.

It gets its name from the protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it contains.

Studies have shown it has a wide range of potential health benefits, ranging from lowering cholesterol to protecting the body from free radical damage.

This article explains what nutritional yeast is, reviews its health benefits and suggests creative ways to use it.

Is It Possible To Get Enough Protein If You Dont Eat Meat

Top 12 Plant-Based Protein Foods!

It’s absolutely possible to meet protein and other nutrient needs without meat, says Cynthia Sass, RD, a dietitian who specializes in plant-based nutrition. From a young age we’re taught that our bodies need meat. In reality, our bodies need key nutrients that are found in meat, but we can obtain adequate amounts from plant-based foods, she explains.

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The Possible Benefits Of Trading Meat Protein For Plant Protein

One perk of eating animal protein is that these sources are complete meaning they provide the nine essential amino acids our bodies cant make, according to the Cedars-Sinai Blog. But there are benefits to trading or reducing your meat consumption and filling up on plant proteins, including:

Losing weight When followed properly, plant-based diets, such as a vegetarian diet, may help you lose weight, according to a review of 12 randomized controlled trials published in January 2016 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Helping the environment Swapping meat for plants to get your protein fix can similarly benefit the environment, notes an article published in December 2018 in Nutrients.

Boosting your heart health When it comes to red meat, the benefits of relying on plant alternatives for protein arguably get even more impressive. Some studies have linked red meat with an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, partly due to the saturated fat content, Sessions says.

Meanwhile, other research, like a meta-analysis published in April 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, reveals that compared with omnivorous dieters vegetarians had lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure numbers. Those benefits can lead to a healthier ticker, lowering your risk for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No one needs to eat red meat to be healthy, Sessions says.

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Whole Grains Rich In Protein

Whole grains are another staple of a well-balanced, plant-based diet. They provide a wealth of fiber, vitamins, minerals and, you guessed it, protein.

Many grains, as mentioned before, have amino acid profiles that are quite complementary to those of vegetables. Combining the two in a meal is a delicious and nutritionally sound idea.

The table below shows a list of whole grains rich in protein. The numbers are for 100 g / 3.5 oz of raw/dry grains.

7.50 g6.22 g

Of course, many processed foods are made with grains, so youll find that, whole-grain flours, pasta, and baked goods are also plant-based foods rich in protein.

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It May Help Lower Cholesterol Levels

The beta-glucan found in nutritional yeast may also lower cholesterol.

In one study, men with high cholesterol who consumed 15 grams of beta-glucan derived from yeast daily for eight weeks lowered their total cholesterol levels by 6% .

Another study found that mice fed beta-glucan from yeast had significantly lower cholesterol levels after only 10 days (

25 ).

Although the chemical structure of beta-glucan in oats is slightly different than the structure of beta-glucan in yeast, data suggests that they have similar cholesterol-lowering effects .

However, no study to date has investigated whether consuming nutritional yeast in its whole form has the same effects. Further research is needed.

Summary The beta-glucan in nutritional yeast may help lower cholesterol levels.

How Much Protein Do We Need

Plant based protein

According to the British Nutrition Foundation, most adults require 0.75 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily . It notes that protein requirements increase in pregnancy by 6g per day and lactation by 8-11g, depending on the infants age.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise adults to consume 10-35 percent of their daily calories as protein, 46g for females and 56g for males.

Its important to note that the amount of protein that someone requires may vary depending on their activity levels and the type of exercise they do.

For example, the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends 1.4-2 g/kg/d protein for building and maintaining muscle mass. However, they also note that there is evidence that higher protein intakes of over 3 g/kg/d may have positive effects on body composition in resistance-trained individuals.

However, a 2016 study advises that although long-term consumption of 2 g/kg/d protein is safe for healthy adults, long-term intakes of higher than this may result in digestive, renal, and vascular abnormalities. Harvard Health also agrees that until experts are conclusive about safe amounts, untrained individuals should aim for no more than 2 g/kg/d.

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Other Types Of Cancer

A soy-rich diet may also help lower your risk of other types of cancer, including endometrial, colon, stomach, and prostate cancers.

For instance, a recent review of 23 studies linked soy-rich diets to a 12% lower risk of dying from cancer, especially cancers of the stomach, large intestine, and lungs .

Another review of 13 studies linked high intakes of soy isoflavones to a 19% lower risk of endometrial cancer .

Moreover, other studies suggest that soy-rich diets may reduce the risk of gut cancers by 7% and colon or colorectal cancers by 812%, especially in women (

Therefore, more research is needed before recommendations can be made.


Research suggests that tofu may safeguard against breast, gut, and prostate cancers. However, more studies are necessary before specific recommendations can be made.

Tofu may also protect against type 2 diabetes.

A 2020 review of studies concluded that participants who regularly ate tofu were less likely to develop this condition .

In another study, women with gestational diabetes who ate a diet rich in soy protein for 6 weeks had significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels than those who ate no soy protein .

The soy isoflavones found in tofu may be partly responsible. However, a 2017 study on the beneficial effects of soy foods for type 2 diabetes failed to find a direct link for tofu specifically (

Although these results are promising, studies are limited and more research is needed.

Enjoyed This Read More

Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council . Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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How Much Protein Do I Need

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36 thats how many grams of protein you should be getting each day at a minimum. Therefore, if you weigh 150 lb, youd aim for 54 g of protein daily. To think of it another way, protein should make up between 10 and 35 percent of your daily calorie intake, says Shira Sussi, RDN, the founder of Shira Sussi Nutrition in Brooklyn, New York.

Thats not a difficult ask for most Americans. We are not terribly worried about getting enough protein most Americans are meeting or exceeding the recommended intake, Sessions says. In many cases that Ive seen working with clients and patients, they are overdoing protein intake while also underdoing the recommended intakes of the nutrient-rich vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.

Sussi suspects its because people are raised with the idea that protein specifically animal protein needs to be the center of the meal, and that a meal without protein is not satisfying or fulfilling. She challenges this thinking and says it doesnt need to be all about a large piece of meat at dinner. You could get your fix by incorporating high-quality protein to meals and snacks throughout the day, such as by adding a serving of beans to a salad or stacking grilled tofu steaks in between slices of bread for lunch, Sussi says.

Best Vegan Protein Sources

Top 5 Plant-Based Protein Foods Tips For Easy Meals!

While vegan protein foods might lose the amino acid battle, its still easy to get enough of them as a vegan. The key is to focus on consuming a variety of plant protein sources, each with their own amino acid composition, every day.

The best vegan protein sources below will leave your body nourished and your hunger satisfied, all whilst helping towards those plant-powered gains.

All nutritional data has been sourced from the My Food Data website.

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What Are Some Easy Ways To Incorporate Plant

According to Sass, when you’re eating healthfully, the bulk of your meals should be plant-based anyway: veggies, a plant-based fat, like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, or tahini and a whole grain or starchy veggie, like quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato or spaghetti squash.

That means the only switch you need to make is to trade your meat for a plant alternative, which is easier than you think, she says. For many people, when they think about what to make for dinner they focus on meat first. Change that pattern by adding pulses and pea protein-based meat substitutes to your protein list, she suggests.

To get more comfortable with plant proteins, Jackie Newgent, RDN and author of “The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook”, recommends starting off with plant protein-rich ingredients, like peanut butter or hummus, which youre already acquainted with and then taking it from there. For instance, if youre already enjoying hummus as a dip, use it as a sandwich spread or a toast topper, she says.

Amy Gorin, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition, suggests a similar approach in this case, for smoothie lovers: Blend plant proteins, like edamame, tofu, or canned chickpeas in for a protein punch. These mix-ins pick up the flavors of the other ingredients, and so they wont taste as strong as if you were to eat them alone.

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