If you are a vegetarian, then chances are that people tell you about the lack of nutritional value in plant sources that animal sources have in abundance. You must have heard about plants not having the same level of carbohydrates, fat, omega 3, and most importantly proteins, as animal sources.
“Where do you get your energy from?” must be the common question asked to you at your office party. If you have watched the Aamir Khan Starrer bollywood film Dangal, you might remember the scene where Aamir Khan makes his daughters eat chicken to build their stamina in order to participate in wrestling competitions.
Most athletes are advised to eat boiled chicken to increase the protein levels in their body. It is true that Plant sources do lack few nutrients in comparison to animal sources as shown in the below table.
Fish, meat, dairy products
Oily fish, eggs and dairy products
Beef, pork, lamb
Plant sources may not provide macronutrients such as carbohydrates and fat the way animal sources do, but they are rich in micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. There are iron rich foods and plant based protein food that you can consume to balance your diet and maintain your energy levels.
Iron is very vital for your body. It produces haemoglobin, which helps in carrying oxygen to the body’s cells. Lack of adequate haemoglobin levels could make a person anaemic and might, in turn, make them weak, fatigued and irritable. Anaemia is one of the most common conditions among men and women alike. Hence, it is important that you consume iron enriched food regularly. Thankfully, unlike other nutrients, vegetarians have plenty of options to choose from to get their dose of iron.
Here are few plant foods high in iron:
Spinach: Eating spinach may not make you Popeye, but it will definitely protect you from becoming anaemic. Spinach and other leafy vegetables are known to be good sources of iron. Here is a simple and tasty recipe that you can follow to add spinach to your diet in its healthiest form.
Weird as it might sound, this banana spinach smoothie is supposed to be one of the easiest and tastiest ways of consuming spinach. The banana and milk together nullify the raw taste of spinach.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
There cannot be a better way to beat the summer heat. You can also add variations such as mint leaves and berries to make it tastier.
Before we talk about the best sources of plant-based protein, let us first debunk the myths that people have about plant based protein food.
Myth # 1 – Proteins are available only in meat
Reality – Lentils, tofu and nuts like almonds are known to be an equally good source of proteins as meat.
Myth # 2 – Plant-based proteins are not complete
Reality – While it is true that plant-based food does not have all essential amino acids as animal sources are believed to have, there are plant source food such as Hemp seeds and Quinoa that have complete protein. You can consume them to get a complete dose of proteins.
Myth # 3 – You need to combine different plant source food to get full advantage of plant proteins
Reality – As stated above, plant-based proteins may not have all the essential amino acids. Few sources might be rich in certain amino acids, while some may lack them. However, as per a 2009 study published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you need not combine different plant-based foods to get all the essential amino acids.
You can eat a variety of plant foods over the course of the day to get your dose of nine essential amino acids. For example, you can have soya milk in the morning and then have a cup of almonds for snacks.
Now that we have debunked few myths behind plant based protein food, let us look at some of the richest sources of plant-based protein.
Source # 1 – Lentils
Undoubtedly one of the best sources of getting proteins, Lentils are a staple for every Indian. Besides proteins, lentils are also a good source of carbohydrates and fiber. Indians usually add split pigeon peas and split green gram in their daily food. Dal is one of the staple foods consumed by Indians. It is considered as one of the easiest and tastiest gravies that can be eaten with anything such as rice and Indian bread.
Source # 2 – Nuts
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios are known to be a filling and rich source of proteins. Besides proteins, nuts are rich in minerals, vitamin E and healthy fats.
Source # 3 – Soya Milk
Soya milk is the vegetarian version of animal milk, which is known to be high in protein content. Soya beans are soaked, dried and grinded in water. 100 gms of soya milk is believed to be 3.3 gms of protein.
Source # 4 – Chia Seeds
People often tell you that plant-based food does not have Omega 3. Here is another myth that can be debunked. Chia seeds are known to be rich in Omega 3 besides boosting fiber and protein in your body. Chia seeds have a unique property of absorbing water through their soluble fiber content.
Soya milk, nuts and Chia seeds can be eaten in their raw form. However, lentils are usually consumed in cooked form. Here is a simple dish that you can prepare using lentils. It is called Lentil soup. Lentil soup can easily be called soul food as it can be eaten on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you are in no mood to cook a lavish dish or when you are unwell.
Preparation Time: 35 minutes
You can bring variation to the otherwise boring Chia seeds with this easy and tasty Chia seed porridge.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Besides iron and plant-based protein food, plant sources are also rich in macronutrients. In fact, there are foods that are rich sources of energy. Let us now look at some of the foods you must include in your diet.
Like animal based foods, plant-based foods have also been graded to help you determine the frequency at which you must consume them.
|Safe starches: potatoes, white rice, taro, tapioca, sago, sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash
|Healthful sugary plants such as beets, carrots, onions, fruits, berries
|Low omega-6 nuts such as macadamia, coconut
|Moderate-omega-6 nuts such as avocados
|High-omega-6 nuts and seeds
|Beans; rye, oats; quinoa
|Wheat, corn, and other grains; peanuts
There cannot be a better way to end a lavish dinner without having a bowl of carrot halwa. While carrot halwa is a much sought after dessert eaten in winter, it can be eaten throughout the year if sweet carrots are available in the market.
Preparation time: 40 minutes
It is summer and there is no better time to indulge in everybody’s favourite fruit – the mango. While eating mango in its purest form is the most enjoyable experience of a sultry summer, a slight variation can make the experience even more fun.
Preparation Time: 1 hour
We hope this information helped you understanding the important of plant-based proteins. Kindly leave your comment to let us know if we missed anything important in this article!