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Proteins for Vegetarians

Proteins are substances that are vital in building structural components for the body such as muscles and organs. They function in a way that helps the body recover from illnesses and injury. They also help a great deal in keeping the body’s immune system healthy, synthesizing neurotransmitters, creating hormones and other functions. Meat, eggs and dairy products are a major source of high protein. But what do you do if you’re a vegetarian and cannot lay your hands on these foods? Worry not. There are just as many options for you!

The Vegetarian Advantage

Proteins are made up of amino acids and there are about 20 different types. The human body can produce 11 of these. The others have to be absorbed through the food we eat. The vegetarian diet has several advantages in obtaining the complete balanced set of proteins. One of them most certainly is that there is no cholesterol in plants so you end up absorbing a lot less of it. Secondly, by eating a lot of veggies you’re taking in a lot more fiber which helps in bowel movements. Lastly, you never exceed your calorie limits. Isn’t that wonderful?

Foods rich in Protein

If you look at it positively, vegetarians have a lot more options than their meat-eating counterparts. In order to get the maximum protein content in your diet, try out various combinations. The key lies in the variety!

Protein for Vegetarian

Firstly, let us list out the veggies and other foods that are rich sources of protein. Beans, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, dairy products and soy are the toppers on the list.

Plan your meals in a way that you’re taking in at least 2 types of the above mentioned foods at a time. Here are some combinations of proteins that can be eaten together:

  • Grains and legumes: Try a combination of cooked black beans (urad dal) and rice for lunch.
  • Nuts, seeds and legume: Dinner can consist of lentil (dal) soup with chopped almonds (badam).
  • Whole wheat pasta with peas, almonds (badam) and a favourite sauce can be eaten at lunch because it is a heavy option.
  • Whole wheat toast and peanut butter is an anytime snack.
  • Bean or lentil soup with whole grain crackers is a good choice for a light dinner.

The list below gives an indication of how much protein is to be found in certain foods:

  • 1/4 cup Almonds: 7 gm
  • 1/4 cup Flax seed: 5 gm
  • 1/4 cup Peanuts: 8 gm
  • 1/4 cup Walnuts: 5 gm
  • 1 cup Chickpeas: 15 gm
  • 1 cup Kidney beans: 15 gm
  • 1 cup Soybeans: 29 gm
  • 1 cup Barley flakes: 4 gm
  • 1 cup Wild rice: 7 gm
  • 1 cup Millet: 8.5 gm

Remember though that animal proteins, found in meats, are complete sources as they are very high in amino acid content. However, plant based proteins are incomplete sources. That is why it is best to eat them in combinations so as to be able to get the maximum benefit from them.

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