The Health Benefits of Vegan Protein
Why we need protein?
Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in the human body is made up of chains of amino acids, which are in themselves the building blocks of protein. Our bodies can naturally produce 11 “non-essential” amino acids on their own whereas 9 “essential” amino acids have to come from our diets. Protein helps to support growth and energy levels, build our strength, repair our tissues and muscles, and is essential for the production of enzymes and neurotransmitters that work constantly to keep our digestion and metabolism working and our brains functioning. Our body loses and replaces approximately 2 million cells per second and without adequate protein from our diet, our body is unable to repair damaged cells or produce new ones. Simply put, we need adequate protein in order to thrive.
Benefits of vegan protein:
Improved Digestion – Vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds are loaded with healthy fibres that naturally improve digestion and absorption, increase motility and reduce symptoms of gas and bloating.
Metabolism Booster – The combination of fibre and protein means it takes your body a while to digest vegan whole foods. The more your body works on metabolising the plant protein, the better your body becomes at burning extra fat.
Cardiovascular health – Plant-based diets tend to be lower in cholesterol and saturated fats and high in healthy plant sterols which can help to improve heart health and overall well-being.
Avoid added hormones & antibiotics – Many animal-based sources of protein can contain added hormones and antibiotics whereas plant-based sources of protein are packed with antioxidants, phytochemicals (compounds produced naturally by plants), vitamins and minerals which are essential for optimal health.
Complete proteins – Many people believe that animal sources of protein are the only “complete” proteins (i.e. they contain adequate levels of all 9 essential amino acids). This is simply not true. Soy, tempeh, edamame beans and golden peas are all complete sources of protein. There are also many ways to combine vegan foods to ensure that you are getting all your amino acids in one meal.
Foods with good amounts of vegan protein:
Legumes: Black beans, chickpeas, edamame, kidney beans, lentils, golden peas, pinto beans, soy (tempeh, tofu).
Wholegrains: Amaranth, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, whole-wheat
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, peanuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.
By combining at least 2 of the above foods groups you will ensure that you are always getting your full host of 20 amino acids in every meal. e.g. beans + rice, hummus + seed crackers, almond butter + rice crackers, lentil soup + whole meal bread.