When opting for a food free of animal products, some doubts may arise. Among them, how to supply the daily needs of the protein.
This is because usually the main protein sources are usually meat, eggs and milk. But there are several plant possibilities that can be included in the diet:
What is vegetable protein?
Did you know that it’s not just meat and animal foods like eggs that contain protein ? There are plant foods that also provide this important nutrient for the body.
Vegetable protein is widely consumed by vegans and vegetarians because it has essential amino acids for health.
It is a nutrient that contributes to the production of hormones, antibodies and enzymes, in addition to helping with the formation of tissues, maintenance of muscles and muscle mass.
Protein deficiency can unbalance the body and even cause serious health problems, in addition to hair loss, cracked skin and a lack of energy and disposition. The recommendation is to consume 0.75g of protein per kilo of body weight, which is equivalent to about 55g for men and 45g for women.
Thus, for those who do not consume animal-derived foods, it is important to look for other sources of protein in plant foods.
The good news is that there are a variety of foods with vegetable proteins available at street markets or markets. This makes it possible to vary a lot in meals, avoid food monotony and still guarantee the consumption of proteins.
Anyone who chooses to exclude animal foods from the diet, such as meat, eggs and milk, should pay attention to consume the adequate amount of protein.
This is because foods of plant origin sometimes do not offer the appropriate concentration of amino acids required. Therefore, it may be necessary to seek medical advice to carry out the vegetable protein powder supplementation.
Elderly people may also need protein supplementation, as they lose more muscle mass.
There are several vegetable protein powder supplements available. Among them, soy, pea, rice supplements or a mixture of different vegetables stand out.
There is still little scientific research that shows the benefits of powdered supplementation of vegetable protein.
A small study of 24 men who exercised for eight weeks showed that whey protein supplementation or rice supplement did not show much difference in exercise performance.
To have positive results, it is important to consume about 1.4g to 2g of protein supplements daily, according to the person’s body weight.
It is worth mentioning that in order to carry out this supplementation safely, it is important to consult nutritionists or doctors (as) who will indicate the best option, according to individual needs.
What are plant proteins?
There are several foods that are sources of vegetable proteins, in addition to soybeans, which are the best known. The biggest sources are in legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and beans .
Soy stands out for being a source of vegetable protein, in addition to tofu, which is produced from it. In 100g of cooked food, 16g of this important nutrient is found.
Oilseeds such as pistachios, almonds, nuts also offer the nutrient. Among cereals, there are oats, quinoa , rice and wheat.
In addition, foods such as mushrooms, watercress, broccoli, arugula, spinach, squash and chard, which contain small amounts but can help balance meals , are on the list of vegetable protein sources .
Rice protein: what are the benefits?
The rice protein supplement, also known as rice protein , is widely consumed to supply the need for the nutrient, especially for vegan and vegetarian people.
There is little research that highlights its benefits, but it is known that this supplement can contribute to the increase in muscle mass, strengthen the immune system and do good for skin and even hair. In addition, it can improve performance in sports.
It is usually used in recipes such as cakes or diluted in drinks such as juice or water. In 100g of rice supplement it is possible to obtain about 80g of protein.
Despite the large amount of amino acids, it is deficient in lysine, which is an essential amino acid found in milk, soy and meat.
Soy protein: what are the benefits?
For vegetarians, vegans or people allergic to dairy foods, soy protein is often the main source of this nutrient. And it is considered a complete protein source, that is, it contains all the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce and needs to obtain through food.
Several studies point out that including soy protein in meals can provide a variety of health benefits.
One study showed that replacing animal protein with 25g or more of soy protein lowers the body’s total cholesterol. Therefore, it can be beneficial for the heart, since high cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Which vegetable has the most protein?
Among plant foods, soy is the legume with the highest protein content absorbed by the body. It contains approximately 40% high quality protein in its composition.
To give you an idea, toasted and ground soybeans offer 34g of the nutrient, already cooked without salt, about 16g.
For this reason, it is considered one of the most complete foods of plant origin and often substitutes for red meat in recipes.
See below for a list of foods that are the biggest sources of vegetable protein:
- Almonds: 100g raw and unsalted contains about 21.1g of protein;
- Pistachios: 100g raw and unsalted contains 20.2 g of protein;
- Cashew nuts : raw and unsalted has 18.2g of protein. The roasted and caramelized version is 15.6 g;
- Oats : in the form of bran, flakes or flour it is also a source of protein and contains, respectively, 4.18g, 1.93g and 15.6g;
- Lentils : legumes cooked without salt or oil contain 7.3g of protein;
- Quinoa : considered a food source of complete protein, that is, it offers all the essential amino acids for the organism. The cooked grain without salt or oil has 4.4g of protein;
- Beans : the cooked carioca type offers 4.7g, the black contains 4.4g of the nutrient and the white has 9.7g;
- Chickpeas : cooked and without salt or oil have 7.5g of protein;
- Pea : the canned grain offers 5.6g of protein. The cooked version contains 7.7g;
- Tofu : the food that is produced from soy has about 6.5g of protein;
- Wheat bran : presents an average of 17.5g;
- Chia : quite versatile in culinary recipes, it has 16.5g of protein;
- Nuts: the roasted and unsalted food has 9.5g of the nutrient.
Read more: What is Quinoa?
Proteins for vegetarians and vegans: which one to choose?
Those who do not consume any type of animal product ( vegan ) or exclude meat from their diet need to keep an eye on the proteins ingested through the vegetables. It is important to consult specialists to receive appropriate guidance and to change your diet if necessary.
There are a variety of plant-based foods that offer the necessary protein for nutrition. According to the Brazilian Vegetarian Society, there is no amino acid needed by the human body that is not found in foods in the plant kingdom.
It is important to have a balanced diet and to include lentils, beans, soy and oats in meals frequently.
In some cases, specialists may recommend supplementation of specific proteins, but always according to the nutritional needs of each person, after some routine exams, such as blood count , for example.
What is vegetable protein bioavailability?
Bioavailability is the percentage of protein absorbed by the body.
Some sources of protein are absorbed more easily than others. Each food has a different bioavailability that can be changed according to the form of preparation, for example.
In addition, the combination with other foods can impair the bioavailability of nutrients, since some have antinutrients, that is, substances that hinder the absorption of vegetable protein.
The quality of a protein source is determined by the amount present in the food, the indispensable amino acids and their digestibility. It is known that protein derived from vegetables generally has less digestibility.
Therefore, it is important to seek professional help to understand which foods are indicated and the ideal amount, in addition to ways of preparing the main sources of vegetable protein to improve their absorption.
Maintaining a balanced diet does not have to be complicated. Just diversify the intake of nutrients, including protein. But those who choose not to consume animal foods also have excellent ways to meet their daily needs through vegetable proteins.
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