Protein is one of the macronutrients, along with fats and carbs, that we require to survive. It helps the body create hormones, enzymes, and other essential components for hormone production, tissue growth, and repair. In addition to helping the body repair cells, proteins are essential in making new ones. Besides, proteins are critical in the growth and development of teens, children, and pregnant women.
Although traditionally considered our primary protein source, many more are available. The most popular over the years is plant-based protein. An IFIC (International Food Information Council) survey shows that 28% of Americans ate more protein from plant sources in 2020 than in 2019.
What prompted the abrupt switch to plant-based protein? More people are becoming aware of the significant health advantages of plants as a rich source of protein.
How can plant proteins benefit your health? Read on to learn more!
Are Plant-based Proteins as Beneficial as Animal Proteins?
The body requires 20 different types of amino acids. Eleven of them—known as “non-essential amino acids”—are produced by our bodies, while the remaining nine—”essential amino acids”—are obtained through food.
Complete proteins, or those that include all of the essential amino acids our bodies require, are found in animal proteins like meat, eggs, and milk. However, several studies have connected eating red meat to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and early mortality. Compared to animal products, some plants can be excellent protein sources since they frequently have fewer calories and less risk of adverse side effects. Soy is an example of a complete plant protein, meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids humans require. Adding innovative soy products like soy milk to your diet can offer health benefits—especially when eaten as an alternative to red meat.
What Are the Sources of Plant Protein?
There is a widespread misperception that plant-based diets are poor in protein. Veggies, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes contain protein. Some nutritious plant-based protein sources include chia seeds, tofu, beans, chickpeas, nuts, and whole-grain bread. Others are nutritional yeast, quinoa, hemp seeds, peanut butter, oats, broccoli, and lentils. While all these foods are great protein sources, lentils take the lead with about 18 grams of protein per cup.
What’s more? Some plant proteins, like quinoa and soy, are complete as they provide all nine necessary amino acids humans require.
Advantages of Plant Protein
Eating legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, whole grains, and other plant-based protein sources are good for your health and the environment.
Here are the top benefits of plant-based protein:
- Healthy Lose Weight
Looking for a healthy way to lose weight? Consider switching to a diet high in plant-based protein to get your body back on track.
Knowing what to eat is essential to achieving your fitness and health objectives since studies have shown that a diet high in plant-based protein is optimal for weight loss. Plant-based protein supports healthy metabolic function, the growth and maintenance of lean muscle, and the squelching of irritating hunger pains. And although steak, poultry, and fish might be at the top of your menu, plant-based choices are much healthier. They are essential for getting your body in shape and healthily because they are bursting with fiber, antioxidants that fight inflammation, tons of nutrients, and minimal calories.
A plant-based diet significantly impacts environmental health. Compared to the production of animal-based proteins, plant-based proteins consume less water and less land and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, if we all cut out meat and dairy products from our diets and switched to plant-based alternatives, we could cut our water use by at least 50%.
Consuming a plant-based diet helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cropland use, water use, increases water quality and minimizes contaminants that leak into water and soil.
- Boost Your Heart Health
Plant-based diets are low in saturated fats, iron, and hormones, which can increase the risk of heart disease. Adopting a plant-based diet can lower your risk of heart disease and the risk factors that go along with it. In their unprocessed form, most plant-based foods are low in saturated fat. Additionally, many plant-based foods contain the beneficial polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Compared to a diet that contains much more meat, eating a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and meat substitutes like soy may reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
- Improve Overall Heath
Numerous minerals, fiber, and antioxidants are present in plant-based protein, enhancing your general health and lowering the risk of certain diseases. According to research, substituting plant-based protein sources for specific animal-based proteins may help reduce the chance of contracting chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. The fiber that plant-based proteins offer is a significant advantage. Fiber facilitates regular meal digestion, controls appetite, and helps regulate the body’s sugar usage and level.
Plant-based proteins are essential in the human diet since they are high in other nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Most notably, they are low-cholesterol alternatives to high-cholesterol animal proteins like red meat. Consuming a diverse range of healthy plant proteins is crucial to get the benefits of a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet high in processed foods and added sugars might not give you the nourishment you require.