Choosing Healthier Proteins for Your Diet

Proteins are the building blocks of life. The proteins that you eat – whether from animal or vegetarian sources – break down in the human body to form amino acids, which then promote cell growth and repair. Proteins are considered a “macronutrient” – they are made up of a family of amino acid molecules.

Proteins take longer for the human body to digest than carbohydrates, thus helping you feel full longer, and often on far fewer calories.

Animal products, such as beef, chicken, eggs, and fish can all be excellent sources of proteins in the diet, but they can also be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. However, animal protein is more complete. It contains more essential amino acids.

What many people may not realize: you can get a good amount of your protein intake from vegetarian sources, and avoid some of those high fats and cholesterol that you will find in animal protein.

How Much Protein Does the Average Person Need in a Day?
A 150-lb person needs about 55-68 grams of protein per day, or about 20 grams of protein per meal. It is very important that you eat a diet that provides your body with the appropriate amount of protein for your body.

Protein is essential to the health of our bodies because it helps our bodies with growth and maintenance. Once the proteins are broken down into amino acids in our bodies, the amino acids are responsible for things such as forming skin and organs, blood cells, keeping the immune system healthy and functioning properly, creating hormones in the body, and creating neurotransmitters.

So, whether you are vegetarian or not, be sure to choose a healthy selection of foods which are high in protein, but low in fat content. Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet – and a healthy body.

Picking Foods Rich in Proteins – Which Vegetables are Rich in Protein?
Not many vegetables can provide the proper amount of proteins your body needs. If you eat a vegetarian diet, or a diet high in vegetables, you’ll need to know which ones you should be eating in order to provide your body with the proper amount of protein. Once you are educated on which vegetables provide you with the proper amount of protein, you can begin to eat a balanced diet.

There are some favorable reasons to choose vegetable proteins over animal proteins such as beef, chicken, eggs and fish. For example, you will find less fat content in vegetable proteins.

Tubers and Leafy Greens
Vegetables such as kale, spinach, carrots, asparagus, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, and others, can be used to supplement proteins in the human body. Vegetables may not be as rich in protein as non-vegetarian proteins such as beef, chicken, eggs, and fish, but they are a high necessity if you eat a strictly-vegetarian diet.

Legumes
Nuts, beans, and peas are also a rich source of protein.

One cup of green peas contains 7.9 grams of protein. This is about the same as one cup of milk.

Nut butters, such as almond and peanut butter, often contain 5-6 grams of protein per ounce. Just be sure to avoid nut butters with added hydrogenated oils, or lots of added sugar.

Two cups of kidney beans contains about 26 grams of protein.

Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) contain 7.3 grams of protein per half cup.

Fruits
Fruits can be a good source of protein, although they are often not as protein-rich as vegetables, beans, and legumes. When seeking protein from fruits, the best choices are usually dried fruits and berries.

Soy Milk and Dairy Products
Soy is another rich source of vegetarian protein. Tempeh and tofu are excellent sources of protein – they contain about 15-20 grams of protein per half cup serving. Boiled edamame contains 8.4 grams of protein per half cup.

Other Vegetarian Sources of Protein
Hemp – can be found in some cereals and trail mixes. A serving of 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contains around 10 grams of protein.

Avocados – unusual for a fruit, avocados do contain proteins, carbohydrates, and omega-6 essential fats. One avocado is 2% complete protein per 100 gram serving, which is only a little lower than whole milk.

Chia seeds – 4.7 grams of protein per ounce.

Sunflower seeds – 7.3 grams of protein per quarter cup.

Sesame seeds – 5.4 grams of protein per quarter cup.

Poppy seeds – 5.4 grams of protein per quarter cup.

Seitan – This popular vegetarian meat substitute is made of wheat gluten that is seasoned with salt and other savory seasonings. It is full of protein – 36 grams of protein per half cup! Its appearance is similar to that of duck meat, and its flavor can be compared to chicken. It can be used as a meat substitute in just about any recipe that calls for poultry.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – 1 gram of protein per tablespoon.

Top choices for protein

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