Not all proteins are the same. While plant-based foods are often lacking in one or more essential amino acids, there are some options that can offer complete protein.
Protein is a necessary nutrient for the proper functioning of the body. Not all food sources of protein are created equal. There are many plant-based sources of protein, although not all plant-based proteins are complete proteins.
The Harvard Nutrition Source explains that protein is made of more than twenty basic building blocks called amino acids. The human body produces them from scratch or by modifying others. There are nine essential amino acids that the body needs to obtain from food.
Unlike meat and other animal foods, plant-based foods are often lacking in one or more essential amino acids. However, there are some plant sources of complete, near-complete protein, as well as combinations that can help you get all nine essential amino acids.
Best plant-based sources of complete protein
Quinoa is considered a whole grain, although it is actually a seed. It is a source of complete protein and fiber. It also provides manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, folate and thiamin (vitamin B1). Quinoa is gluten free so it can be consumed by those who have celiac disease.
A cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein.
2. Soy products
Soy foods are rich in nutrients, in addition to complete protein, they provide B vitamins, fiber, potassium and magnesium. Half a cup of mature soybeans provides 15 g of protein, a soy burger around 14 g, 3 ounces of cooked tempeh 13 grams, and three ounces of soft tofu 8 g of protein.
Harvard explains that soy foods are also classified as fermented or unfermented. “Fermented means that the soy food has been cultured with beneficial bacteria, yeast, or mold,” notes the nutrition source.
Amaranth is a nutritious and healthy grain. It is a source of complete protein, fiber, natural antioxidants, as well as important vitamins and minerals for the body such as calcium, iron and phosphorus. In addition, it can be consumed by people with celiac disease since it is gluten-free. A cup of cooked amaranth contains 9 g of vegetable protein.
“Spirulina has a protein content of 60%, is a richer source of protein than most vegetables, and is also a good source of beta-carotene, various minerals, and gamma linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid,” shares Harvard. Health.
Spirulina is one of the so-called “superfoods” that were part of the Aztec diet, it was considered a resistance enhancer.
A single tablespoon (7 grams) of dried spirulina powder contains 4 grams of protein that is considered to be of high quality, it has all the essential amino acids. It also provides thiamine, riboflavin, copper and iron.
Seitan is a complete protein made from wheat gluten. A rubbery meat substitute that can be flavored, cooked, and used in various dishes.
A 3-ounce serving of seitan contains 15 to 21 grams of protein. It does not contain much lysine, so it is favorable to combine it with other lysine-rich foods such as legumes for a complete protein.
Chia seeds are a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce, and they are also the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds (1 ounce or 28 grams) contain 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, 7 grams of unsaturated fat. It also provides calcium, zinc and copper.