Protein is an important part of a healthy diet. It promotes cell growth and tissue repair and is an essential building block of bone, muscle, cartilage, skin and blood. In fact, every cell in the human body contains protein.
Your body does not store protein so it consistently needs a new supply. Some of the best sources of protein come from animal products, but if you’re a vegetarian, there are other foods you can include in your diet so you get the protein you need.
Here are 5 good sources of plant-based protein:
You won’t be lacking in protein if you make beans a staple of your vegetarian diet. All types of beans, including kidney, pinto, cannellini and black beans, contain high amounts of protein. One cup of cooked kidney or black beans, for example, has over 15 grams of protein. Beans are great in soups and chili but they also work well as a base for salads and can even be disguised in sweet treats such as brownies.
Foods made from soy, such as tofu or tempeh, provide ample amounts of protein and are very versatile. These foods contain about 15-20 grams of protein per half cup and usually take on the taste of whatever you cook them with. Edamame, soybeans still in the pod, make a great snack or appetizer when steamed or boiled with some sea salt.
This grain contains more than 8 grams of protein per cup and is considered a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body needs. You can eat quinoa as a protein-rich side dish instead of rice or pasta, add it to soup or chili, make it into a delicious salad or even eat it warm for breakfast with some fruit and cinnamon.
All nuts contain a healthy dose of protein, but they are also high in calories so eat sparingly. Almonds and cashews, for example contain 5-6 grams of protein per ounce. Sprinkle nuts into your salad, mix into yogurt or simply grab a small handful for a satisfying protein-filled snack.
Chia and Hemp Seeds
You can add protein and fiber to your diet with chia seeds (almost 5 grams of protein per ounce) or hemp seeds (9 grams of protein per ounce). Sprinkle the seeds over salads, blend into smoothies or add to baked goods.