Proteins form an essential part of a balanced diet. They are the building blocks of human bodies and therefore for the body to function properly one should eat high protein foods. Many vegetarians find it difficult to decide about protein rich food that should be consumed as there is a misconception that only non vegetarian food items are rich in protein. However, a vegetarian diet plan which is rich in protein can be easily prepared by knowing about the various vegetarian foods which could serve the purpose. Here is a list of top ten vegetarian high protein sources to help you with your vegetarian meal plan.
Seeds and nuts
These are one of the most commonly known sources of proteins. Additionally they are also a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals essential for the body.
Examples of protein rich nuts are almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashew, pistachio, pine nut, Brazil nut, hazel nut, pecan nut, macadamia nut and chestnuts. In terms of seeds consider eating pumpkin seed, watermelon seed, sesame seed, hemp seed, sunflower seed, perilla seed, lotus seed, and poppy seed.
Food grains and cereals
Whole grains and cereals are good source of protein and are also rich in carbohydrates and fibre. These are abundantly available and can be included in the diet easily. Examples: wheat and wheat germ, oats, oats, rye, barley, paddy, brown rice, quinoa and buck wheat.
These are dried beans with a very high content of protein. They have been an important constituent of a protein rich diet since ages as they can be grown easily and are inexpensive. Examples are garbanzo beans, chickpeas, split peas, haricot, kidney beans, flageolet, lima beans, kidney beans, soybeans, lentils and navy beans.
These belong to the species of aquatic microscopic plants called algae, which are rich in protein. It is however to be remembered that not all algae are fit for human consumption. The two most common types of blue-green algae which are fit for human consumption are Spirulina platensis and Spirulina maxima, which, in addition to protein, are also rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids.
Vegetables are undoubtedly rich in many essential nutrients for the body including protein, vitamins and minerals. They also contain potassium, which plays an important role in regulating the blood pressure of the body. Vegetables are also known to improve the immunity of the body. Examples are green pea, garlic, broccoli, turnip, red pepper, bamboo shoot, spinach, cucumber, cauliflower etc. It is recommended that the vegetables are not over cooked so that their essential nutrients are preserved.
Fruits should be included in all protein vegetarian meal plans as there are many fruits which could provide enough quantities of essential amino acids to the body. Moreover, fruits are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre. They also promote a healthy digestive system of the body. Examples are fig, apricot, avocado, plum, date, papaya, cherry, litchi, melon, kiwi, olive, strawberry etc.
Soybean and soy products
Soybeans are the richest source of high quality protein from plants. Additionally they are also rich in fibre, iron, folate and vitamin B. Protein from soy is good for bone health as it helps to conserve the calcium in the body. Soy protein helps in lowering blood cholesterol. Also protein from soy can be easily consumed by kidneys as compared to animal protein. As such soy is being used in many home made and commercial food preparations instead of animal meat. Soy milk and tofu are the most common commercially available forms of soybean.
Bee pollen is rich in many essential vitamins and minerals while constituting approximately 40% of protein. It is one of the greatest protein source made available by the nature, and contains more protein content than equal quantities of animal meat or eggs.
Milk and other dairy products
Low fat milk and other dairy products like yogurt, curd and cheese are a good source of protein, calcium, potassium and other essential minerals. Dairy products are delicious and are easily available. If you want to cut down on the calorie intake always go for a low fat version of the dairy products.
Seitan has been used as a source of protein in Asia since many years. It is however prepared from whole-wheat flour. Being high in protein, they are used as a replacement of animal meat in many food preparations.
Other considerable sources of protein
Apart from these great sources of protein, one can also go for vegetarian protein supplements or powders available easily in the market. Also, there are many vegetarians who do not mind to eat eggs. If you are also one of them then you can go for egg whites which contain a complete profile of amino acids and are low in fat. But try to avoid egg yolk as it is high in cholesterol.
How to include protein in a meal plan?
Now you know about the vegetarian foods which could be included in the diet. But it is equally important to eat protein the right way. Eating right quantities of protein and in the right way also helps people to achieve their weight loss goals gradually. This is because of the fact that our body requires more energy to digest protein than any other nutrients, which in turn means that more calories are burnt within the body itself!
Protein should form at least 50-60% of all of your meals. If you are the kind of person who loves to exercise and work out, then you should eat a small portion of protein rich food after all your work out sessions. Also, do not forget to drink enough quantities of water throughout the day as water is a wonder fluid which helps in the digestion of the food which is supplied to the body and in flushing out the toxins from the body.
At the same time it is very important to keep in mind that different people require to consume different amount of protein in their diet depending upon a lot of factors like age, size, health, body type, growth, level of physical activity, medical condition, allergy history, pregnancy and lactation. Therefore, before preparing a protein meal plan it is recommended that you consult a dietitian to help you prepare a meal plan in accordance with the specific requirements of your body.
After reading about the various great vegetarian protein sources it would now be easy for you to prepare your own vegetarian protein meal plan. Which vegetarian protein foods did you decide to include in it?