One of the problems faced by vegans is getting complete proteins. There are 20 amino acids that create a bond to make proteins. The body can make eleven of those, but it can’t make nine. They have to come from the food we eat and are called essential proteins. A complete protein contains all nine essential amino acids. Unlike animal sources that contain all nine in adequate amounts, not all plant protein sources are complete. These nine amino acids include: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, lysine, methionine and valine. Finding complete protein sources for Vegans is one of the challenges faced eating a plant-based menu.
Vegan protein sources that are complete, but most aren’t.
While it’s harder to find complete proteins in a plant-based diet, there are some sources. Buckwheat, soy and quinoa are complete. However, most aren’t, so you have to combine sources to make them complete. Luckily, you don’t have to do it all at one time or at each meal, as was previously thought. You can eat a variety of plant protein sources throughout the day and meet your needs for complete proteins.
Soy products are great protein sources.
Whether it’s tofu, edamame, tempeh or other soy product, it’s normally a great source of protein. Tofu, soy curds, have ten grams of protein in every half cup. It’s often used as a meat substitute. Edamame offers 8 ½ grams per cup. Edamame are immature soybeans and often used as snacks. Tempeh is cooked and fermented soy that has 15 grams of protein for every half cup. Soy products are often used to replace dairy.
You can combine sources of protein at a meal for a complete protein.
Eating a variety of different protein sources throughout the day is the best way to achieve your protein goal. However, if you want to ensure you have a complete protein at a meal, you can simply combine two sources. For instance, whole grains and beans, such as beans and rice or pita bread and hummus, create a complete protein. Whole grains with nuts or seeds, think nut butter and whole wheat bread, also are complete proteins. Nuts and seeds with beans also are complete.
- Not only are lentils a good source of protein, providing 8.84 grams per half cup, they also provide potassium. You can increase your protein intake by including lentils in salads and soups.
- If you like hummus, you like chickpeas, which are a good source of protein with 7.25 grams per half cup. Best of all, you can get this protein as part of your snack.
- PB&J never gets old and provides a great source of protein, especially when on whole wheat bread—even better Ezekiel bread. Peanut butter has 7 grams per serving—2 tablespoons, while almond butter contains 6.8 grams per serving.
- Adding tons of dark leafy green vegetables to your diet will supplement your protein intake. Kale has 2 grams of protein per cup and broccoli contains 4 grams per medium stalk. Even mushrooms provide protein, with five providing about 3 grams.
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