Plant-Based Sources of Protein

Published:  01/18/2018

An appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. 

"Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity. Low intake of saturated fat and high intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds (all rich in fiber and phytochemicals) are characteristics of vegetarian and vegan diets that produce lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and better serum glucose control. These factors contribute to reduction of chronic disease. Vegans need reliable sources of vitamin B-12, such as fortified foods or supplements." Source:  J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116:1970-1980

Plant-based diets are good for your heart, your weight and your overall health. Eating little meat and a variety of colorful fruit and vegetables, grains, and peas and beans helps reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Vegetarians are those who only eat plant-based foods. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not eat other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products.

Plant-based proteins can be easily incorporated into meals. For example, quinoa and buckwheat can be served in place of traditional sides such as potatoes or rice. Beans and lentils are great protein additions to put in soups and salads. Other plant-based proteins such as tempeh, seitan and tofu can be cooked as you would meat (broiled, baked, grilled or sautéed) and enjoyed a number of ways.

The key to a nutritionally sound vegetarian or vegan plant-based diet is dietary variety. The healthiest vegan diet includes a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, seitan, tofu, and soybeans. This is to ensure adequate protein in addition to iron, calcium, omega-3s and B12 which can be lacking in the vegan diet. 

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