During the holidays, many people overindulge in calories and underperform in activity. The result, other than the guilt, is a vow to do better in the new year. Confirmed couch potatoes vow to get moving and confirmed carnivores vow to go vegetarian. If you’re thinking of cutting back on meat sources, you still need to consume protein for good health. We’re here with information to help you keep the protein up using non-meat sources.
3 Benefits of Meatless Proteins
Many plant proteins contain components that can help protect against chronic conditions such as heart disease, while also providing the energy and nutrients a body needs. Legumes, soy beans and nuts are three plant sources of protein that possess such health-affirming properties.
- Cancer protection. Saponins can help lower cholesterol levels, improve immune function, and help protect against cancer. Saponins are found in many foods, and are found in the highest concentrations in beans and legumes including soybeans, chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans, and haricot beans as well as asparagus, alfalfa sprouts, peas, and yucca.
- Lower cholesterol. Soybeans are often connected with lower cholesterol since they contain no cholesterol and very little saturated fat. Soy protein can be found in edamame, tofu, and soy milk.
- Heart disease protection. Nuts are a great way to ingest protein and gain some protection against heart disease. Good nuts to eat include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, pecans, cashews, and hazelnuts. Nuts are rich in fiber, minerals and other bioactive compounds and have high concentrations of important minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Meatless Protein Sources
Whether you’re going whole-hog with meatless protection, or half-hog (continuing to eat fish and fowl), you can easily find many sources of protein that come from plants sources.
Adults generally need 10-35% of their total daily calories to come from protein. So, if you are on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, you should have 50-175 grams a day. For example, you could have 1 and 1/3 cups of black beans in a black bean and rice dish and get the same protein as in a 3-ounce piece of chicken.
Here are the top 20 meatless proteins, starting with the best:
Meatless Monday is a great way to start substituting plant sources of protein for beef, pork, poultry, fish, or seafood.
- Seitan (wheat gluten) – 75g per 100g. When wheat gluten dough is steamed, baked or boiled, it becomes chewy with a very meat-like texture.
- Lentils – 26g per 100g. Lentils are great in soup, chili or added to cooked veggies.
- Peanut Butter – 25g per 100g. Yay!
- Hemp Seeds – 23g per 100g. Buy them online (not illegal to consume and no psychogenic effects) and add them to soups, salads, smoothies, or any other dish of your choosing.
- Black Beans – 21g per 100g. Use in any meatless entree or in a side dish. Bean dip is an easy option.
- Almonds – 21g per 100g. Eat them raw or roasted or as a food topping.
- Sunflower Seeds – 21g per 100g. Great on a salad or as a snack.
- Tempeh – 19g per 100g. Made from soy, you can buy it at many grocery stores and use as a direct meat substitute for any recipe that calls for meat.
- Quinoa – 14g per 100g. This seed is gluten-free and is a complete protein. Use it as a substitute for rice or pasta.
- Eggs – 13g per 100g. Not “plant-based” but a great substitute for eating its poultry parent.
- Cottage Cheese – 11g per 100g. Choose the low-fat variety. When paired with fresh fruit it provides a balanced meal of protein and carbohydrates.
- Edamame – 11g per 100g. Edamame is green soybeans that have been picked prematurely and then boiled or steamed. It’s a bit tough to make edamame into a main dish, so use it as an appetizer or snack before or between meals.
- Greek Yogurt – 10g per 100g. Eat as a snack or to replace sour cream in a recipe.
- Tofu – 8g per 100g. Tofu is easily the most often substituted item for meat. You can use it in just about any meat dish, or add to soups and stews.
- Hummus – 8g per 100g. Hummus is made from chickpeas. It is a great dip for just about any vegetable or can be used instead of salad dressing.
- Kale – 4.3g per 100g. Kale is high in fiber and is a cruciferous vegetable. Bake up leaves of kale into kale chips or mix kale into your lasagna recipe as a spinach substitute.
- Milk and Soy Milk – 3.3g per 100g. Strict vegetarians use soy milk.
- Spinach – 2.9g per 100g. Popeye would approve.
- Broccoli – 2.8g per 100g. Eat it every day either cooked or raw in salads. Eat it in salads, soups, casseroles, or chili.
- Avocado – 2g per 100g. Yay!