Natural Plant Protein: Rejoicing in Longevity, Vitality, Energy and Youth
There are many benefits to eating plant-based diets: reducing the risk of chronic diseases, helping to manage weight, and improving overall health. Eating a plant-based diet means consuming mostly foods that come from plants, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. By consuming these foods often, your diet will be lower in calories, cholesterol and saturated fat, while being rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Protein, which supports growth, builds and repairs muscles, and builds hormones (among many other things) is essential to human life and is usually associated with animal sources–meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs and cheese. Animal proteins contain ample amounts of all nine essential amino acids, and therefore are known as complete proteins. Plant proteins are known as incomplete proteins, because they’re missing at least one of the nine essential amino acids.
However, two or more plant proteins can be combined to compensate for the amino acids each one is missing. These combinations of plant proteins that make up all nine essential amino acids are called complementary proteins.
Example Complimentary Proteins:
- Legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas, are missing the amino acids methionine and tryptophan.
- Grains, nuts and seeds are missing the amino acid lysine.
When you combine a food from each group above (e.g., lentils + seeds) you create a complementary protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. Hummus and pita bread, beans and rice, or a lentil and barley stew are all delicious ways to derive complementary protein from a plant-based diet.
Quinoa and soybeans are exceptions, and are complete proteins. Tofu (aka soybean curd), provides the most protein of these plant-based options. It is an excellent choice as a meat alternative, while being low in saturated fat, and free of cholesterol and sodium. It’s also low in calories (about 85-100 calories per serving). There is some evidence that soy may be beneficial for heart health, cancer, and reducing some of the symptoms of menopause. (Rejoice, ladies of a certain age!)
There are many sources of plant-based proteins, including soy and soy products (like tofu, tempeh and fortified soy beverages), meat alternatives (TVP, seitan and veggie burgers), legumes (lentils, dried beans and peas), grains (such as quinoa, brown rice, bulgur and oatmeal) nuts, nut butters and seeds.
Chickpeas, a type of legume, are a very versatile and popular pea and a is staple in Evolve Retreat Co.‘s menu. Also known as garbanzo beans, they have a nutty flavor with a smooth buttery texture. They are great for making creamy sauces and dips, but also hold their shape well when cooked, such as in stews and curries. They are great mashed in sandwiches or used as a base for simple fritters. Like other legumes, they are great for digestive and heart health with soluble and insoluble fibre. They are rich in energy-enhancing manganese and folate. In addition, they contain phytochemicals that help with disease prevention. Buying canned legumes can be a real time-saver, but ensure you are buying varieties without or with little added salt, and always rinse them before using to wash away any excess salt.
We have attached a few meal ideas that will not disappoint. These meals are sure to increase your energy, vitality and youth. Enjoy!
Summer Glow Buddha Bowls
- Recipe retrieved from Oh She Glows
Protein Rich Ingredients: Quinoa (Complete Protein) and Pepita Seeds
Chopped Power Salad with Baked Tofu and Almond Miso Dressing
- Recipe retrieved from Oh My Veggies
Protein Rich Ingredients: Tofu (Complete Protein), Miso (Complete Protein), Almond Butter, Cashews, Sesame Seeds and Hemp Seeds
Mexican Stuffed Peppers
- Recipe Retrieved from Kris Carr
Protein Rich Ingredients: Tempeh (Complete Protein), Black Beans and Brown Rice (Complementary Proteins)