This week I introduced protein-rich tofu. Although I am not a vegetarian, I recognize that all of us can benefit from replacing some animal protein in our diets with plant protein. The current US diet consists of a 1 to 2 ratio of plant to animal protein. A 1 to 1 ratio is considered more desirable for optimal health and disease protection. The evidence is striking that a plant-based diet is optimal for health and wellness.
The benefits of a plant-based diet are mostly due to the rich fiber content and the plant-specific phytochemicals in each plant food. Phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant components with preventive or therapeutic benefits. These benefits are specific to the plant and can reduce your risk for chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
The sources of plant protein are: legumes and soybeans; whole grains; nuts and seeds; and vegetables.
Except for soy and the whole grain quinoa, sources of plant protein are incomplete. This means that not all of the essential amino acids are present in the food. However, if paired with a complementary source of plant protein during a day of eating, complete proteins can be built by the body.
This list shows you how to pair different sources of plant protein to build a complete protein:
Whole Grains with Legumes (like black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans and lentils)
Nuts and Seeds with Legumes
Vegetables with Whole Grains
Vegetables with Nuts and Seeds
Corn with Legumes
Myplate2yours is a great resource for recipes featuring plant protein. Most of the recipes tagged ‘Meatless Mondays (vegetarian)’ and ‘Vegan’ are good sources of plant-based protein. You’ll find Bean & Cheese Quesadilla, Rice & Bean Burrito Bowl, Greek-Style Hummus,and Quinoa with Cherries and Pine Nuts. Stay tuned for more!!