Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Switching to a meatless diet is easier said than done. It’s often a challenge to procure the right amount of protein from a vegetarian diet. But protein is crucial to good health. No matter what the diet, it is important to have protein-rich foods to maintain optimum health.
Why is a High Protein Diet Important for Good Health?
The word “protein” is derived from the Greek word “proteos” meaning “primary.” Proteins are made of amino acids, strung together like a long chain of beads. Each “bead” is like an amino acid. There are 20 amino acids that string together to form thousands of protein patterns in the body.
Proteins help the cells grow, regenerate and repair weak tissues. At certain times when the body needs extra nourishment, during an illness, puberty, pregnancy or breastfeeding, for instance, protein is required to maintain higher levels of activity and health. The amino acid chains that form protein and peptides make up several body hormones and transmit information between the organs, cells and tissues to help them all function properly.
Challenges of a Vegetarian Diet
The biggest challenge of switching to a vegetarian diet is finding the right replacements for animal protein sources. But here’s the good news! There is a wide variety of plant proteins that are just as good replacements. You just need to know the ones that are best suited for you.
If you are not a fussy eater or suffer from allergies, a variation of these proteins in your diet will work just as well and you can easily meet the daily recommended intake required. The recommended daily intake of proteins for women is 46 gms and for men is 56 gms.
Check out the list of protein-rich foods below:
Grains such as Whole Wheat and Brown Rice
Brown wheat and brown rice are great sources of protein and fibre.
2 slices of whole-wheat bread = 5 gms of protein.
1 cup cooked brown rice = 5 gms of protein
1 cup cooked spaghetti or noodles = 8 gms of protein
1 cup cooked quinoa = 9 gms of protein
Isolated wheat gluten has a higher amount of protein. It contains 31 gms in just a 3-ounce serving. Just a single serving of these foods can provide the protein nourishment you are looking for.
Cooked lentils and legumes are common sources of protein for vegetarians. Black beans, chickpeas, soy and the wide variety of lentils that you commonly see are all good sources.
1 cup of cooked lentils = 18 gms of protein
1 cup of chickpeas = 12 grams
2 tablespoons of peanut butter = 8 grams of protein
1 cup of cooked soybeans = 29 grams
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are a rich source of protein for any kind of diet - vegetarian, vegan or keto. Peanuts technically fall under the legumes category like beans and peas do. But almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and pecans are all good to eat in any form: raw, roasted, toasted, seasoned, pureed or cooked. Nuts contain 5 gm of protein and many other minerals. The carb content is highly variable though. Although nuts are considered high-calorie, they are said to aid weight loss, especially almonds and pistachios, and lower cholesterol level.
Eggs and Dairy Products
Most vegetarians tend to include eggs in their diet even though there are many who don’t. Vegans typically do not have eggs or dairy products. Eggs are high in protein as are dairy products.
1 cup of 1 percent milk = 8 grams of protein
1 ounce of whole milk mozzarella cheese = 6 grams,
An 8-ounce pack of plain, low-fat yogurt = 12 grams of protein.
1 large, white chicken egg = 4 grams of protein
1 duck egg = 9 grams of protein.
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