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Natural Protein Sources for Vegetarians

by Nicole Nutter

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The United States Food and Drug Administration recommends that every day, people consume .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This calculates to approximately 54 grams of protein every day for a person that weighs 150 pounds. Why do we need protein in our diet? Proteins are essential in maintaining good health. The amino acids we get from protein support every part of the body, from skin to bones and everything in between. So how can someone who doesn’t eat meat get the adequate amount of protein? Well, that’s easy.

Our bodies create all but eight of the essential amino acids that we need for it to function sufficiently. We get the rest from consuming foods that have protein in them, and SavvyVegetarian states that all plant based foods contain protein. The body combines “proteins from all sources to make ‘complete protein,’ and that goes for everyone—vegans and vegetarians included. A complete protein is defined as having the proper amount of all eight essential amino acids.

There are plenty of natural sources of protein that are vegetarian friendly. Some may be surprising to you. For example, a ¼ cup of almonds contains 7 grams of protein, and a medium avocado has 4 grams. Fruits, vegetables, grains and seeds can all contribute protein to your diet. Natural Health Lifestyles goes into details about some of the protein sources that vegetarians can benefit from. Beans can be used in a number of dishes including salads or soups. They also are a great side dish. One of the best beans to eat for protein is the black bean. One cup of black beans has 15 grams of protein in it. Soy beans go above and beyond all other beans to provide you with adequate protein levels. Today, soy is the staple food for many vegetarians.

Nuts and seeds are also wonderful protein sources (unless you have a nut allergy), and there is a wide variety of types and uses for both. Mixed into oatmeal, toppings for salads or by themselves, you can be sure to find some way to enjoy nuts and seeds. Some different types of nuts include: cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, macadamia and pecan. Examples of seeds are pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame.

Grains are found in a number of different foods, but it is suggested that you get 100 percent whole grains when buying groceries, such a breads or pasta. Grains include rye, oatmeal, barley and wild rice, and many breakfast cereals are made of these whole grains.

Vegetables and fruits can also contribute significant amounts of protein to your diet. One medium potato provides you with 4 grams, and a banana has 1 to 2 grams. Other good fruit and vegetable protein sources include artichokes, broccoli, corn, kale, peas, squash, tomatoes, blackberries, grapefruit, pomegranate, strawberries and watermelon. Veg Paradise lists the protein content of several plant-based foods that can be included in the vegetarian or vegan diet.

Though you can clearly obtain enough protein from a balanced vegetarian diet, there are also protein supplements available to use should you choose to do so. A natural and healthy lifestyle is promoted by veganism and vegetarianism. As long as you are aware of what you’re eating (though every person alive should be aware of what they are eating), you should have no problem getting the proper nutrients into your diet. Protein gives us energy, fights disease and illness (antibodies are proteins), and carries nutrients throughout our blood stream. So, no matter how you get your protein, just make sure you get an adequate amount. For a great vegan and soy free source of protein from Sunwarrior click here

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