By Vanda Lakatos
Proteins are the basic building blocks of the human body. They are made up of amino acids, and help build muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails and internal organs. Next to water, protein is the most plentiful substance in the body, and most of it (around 60% to 70%) is located in the skeletal muscles.
There are 20 amino acids that are required for growth by the human body and all but eight can be produced in your body. These eight amino acids, called essential amino acids, must be supplied by food and/or supplements.
Whole grains are a great source of protein, but the queen of whole grains when it comes to protein content is quinoa. Unlike many sources of vegetarian protein, quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a “complete protein”. Just one cup of cooked quinoa contains 18 grams of protein, as well as nine grams of fiber.
All beans, lentils, and peas are an excellent vegetarian and vegan source of protein especially adzuki beans. Black beans, kidney beans, Indian dhal, vegetarian chili, split pea soup and chickpea hummus all offer a great source of protein.
Nuts, including peanuts, cashews, almonds and walnuts all contain protein, as do seeds such as sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Because most nuts and seeds are high in fat, you don’t want to make them your primary source of protein.
Seitan,veggie burgers, Tempeh
Tempeh is made from fermented soy, the process makes soy (unlike tofu) a healthy way to eat, it has a unique taste and is mildly flavorful on it’s own.
One veggie burger contains about 10 grams of protein, and 100 grams of seitan – made from the protein-rich gluten of wheat or spelt flour-provides 21 grams of protein.
Hemp (Cannabis Sativa) is recognized as a complete/balanced vegetarian source of amino acids, Essential fatty acids, natural anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and chlorophyll.
For those burnt out on soy products, Hemp Protein can provide a tasty, high-protein alternative in a very convenient form. Ideal for vegan athletes and growing vegan kids!
Although highly rated by many as the perfect vegetarian protein, others are not so sure and there are a few important issues to be aware of:
- Most soy is genetically modified these days. If it is not organic it will contain at least some if not all GM soy which can cause allergies.
- Natural toxins called “anti-nutrients” are found in soy, including soyatoxin, saponins, phytates, pxalates, protease inhibitors, estrogens, and goitrogens, factors that can interfere with protein-digesting enzymes. Consuming too much soy can put your health in danger.
- Soy can disrupt proper thyroid function.
- Soy can prevent absorption of minerals.
May 27 & June 24: Vegetarian cooking course
Tel: 951 713 575
This post is also available in: Spanish