Top 10 Sources of Vegetarian Protein

Those who are on a weight loss journey would have heard the word, ‘Protein’ being thrown around all the time. Speaking for myself, it is my favourite nutrient.  For meat eaters, consuming sufficient protein is quite easy, given the presence of large quantities of the nutrient in their diets. However, vegetarians do not have to fret! We have for you, a ready reckoner and a list of foods rich in vegetarian protein! Incorporating these in your diet in sufficient quantities every day will ensure you receive the required amounts.

Did you know the average sedentary man requires 56 grams of protein a day and an average sedentary woman needs 46 grams of protein every day?

The Top 10 Sources of Vegetarian Protein

Aim for a good amount of protein in every meal. This keeps you full, is healthy and one feels much better in terms of general well-being.

#1) Soy and Soy Based Products

1.Soy Products like soybean, tofu, soya milk provide 26-48 grams of protein per 100 grams. Consumption every few days will ensure an adequate intake of protein. There are discussions regarding long term effects of soy products however, as long as consumed in moderate amounts they make for a great protein packed meal.

Consumption of Soy products every few days, like soy beans, tofu and soya milk among others, will ensure an adequate intake of protein. There are some discussions regarding long term side effects of soy products. However these do not appear to be conclusive yet, and as long as consumed in moderate amounts, with around 48% protein content, soy products make for a great meal packed with vegetarian protein.

Pregnant and lactating women, and those who indulge in strenuous physical activity, need to consume more protein in their diets, than the average person.

#2) Pumpkin and Squash Seeds

These seeds not only make for a great snacking option toasted and added to salads, but can be used as gravy thickeners instead of the rich cashews, or as healthy addition whilst baking breads. A must try!

Pumpkin and squash seeds not only make for a great snacking option, toasted and added to salads, but can be used as thickeners for gravies and other dishes instead of the rich cashews or starches we normally would, or as a healthy addition to breads. A must try, especially since they contain 34% vegetarian protein on average.

Apart from water, which constitutes nearly 80% of our body weights, proteins make up the next biggest component.

#3) Pulses and Lentils

Lentils are an everyday affair in most households. The trick to get the maximum benefit of protein is to have absolute thick versions and not the soupy, rasam kind. A meal of this during the day with some vegetables and Low GI carbs is as healthy as it gets!

Lentils are an everyday affair in most households. The trick to get the maximum benefit of vegetarian protein is to have absolute thick versions and not the soupy, rasam kind of preparations. With 26% protein content, a meal of lentils during the day with some vegetables and Low GI carbs is as healthy as it gets!

Consuming too much protein can affect the filtration process and affect our kidneys, especially so if there are pre-existing kidney problems.

#4) Peanut Butter

Struggle to let go of the need to spread some butter on your toast, rotis, etc. Next time, try peanut butter. It is healthier for sure compared to the traditional butters and has more good fats! Try portion control with this one and remember this butter is there if you crave some!

Do you struggle to let go of the need to spread some butter on your toast and rotis? Next time, try peanut butter. It is healthier for sure compared to the traditional butters, contains 24% vegetarian protein and has more good fats! Try portion control with this one and remember to try this butter if you ever crave some!

Protein is the fuel that is needed for a body’s growth and maintenance. It has a role in muscle strength, in organ functioning, hair, nail and all cell growth.

#5) Walnuts and Almonds

If you do want to go the nutty route during snack times, try these healthier nuts which also contain good fats in good amounts.

Nuts are a satisfying, portable and versatile snack. They do represent a bit of a nutritional minefield however, given the amounts and types of fat they contain. If you do want to go the nutty route during snack times, try these healthier nuts which also contain good fats in good amounts in addition to 24% vegetarian protein.

There are thousands of amino acids but our body only needs 22 for functioning, out of which 9 come from dietary sources.

#6) Beans & Legumes

The good ole' rajma or kidney beans is a blessing for vegetarians and can be made in a variety of ways like salads, curries, burgers, burritos etc. Rajma and other beans should be a part of your meal on most days for that protein punch!

Our good old rajma or kidney beans is a blessing for vegetarians and can be made in a variety of ways like salads, curries, burgers, burritos etc. Rajma and other beans should be a part of your meal on most days for that punch of vegetarian protein! Apart from containing between 19 to 24% protein, kidney beans are also a great source of soluble fibre!

Protein supplements should not be treated as replacements to regular dietary sources of protein. They should be consumed on the advice of a nutritionist/dietitian or physician.

#7)  Quinoa

Although, for many this may not be a local and cheap produce but Quinoa needs a special mention as this 'wondergrain' has all the 9 essential amino acids in it. A rarity!

Although for many this may not be a local and/or cheap produce, but Quinoa needs a special mention as this wonder grain has all the 9 essential amino acids in it. A rarity, don’t you think, given that this grain also contains 24% vegetarian protein?!

Proteins are the, ‘Building blocks of life’ and are made when several amino acids branch up together.

#8) Sesame seeds, Chia seeds and Flax seeds

These seeds are currently in vogue and people tend to religiously use them in daily meals but do be aware that they are also rich in good fats.

Every so often we see trends in food, with specific foods being pushed all across the consumer spectrum. It is now the turn of Sesame (18% protein), Chia (17% protein) and Flax (18% protein) to be worldwide celebrities. These seeds are currently in vogue and people tend to religiously use them in daily meals. Do be aware however, besides being rich in vegetarian protein, they are also rich in good fats.

We need all essential 9 amino acids in sufficient amounts for the protein to do its job properly.

#9) Low Fat Dairy Products

The keyword here is, 'Low Fat Dairy'. Dairy products do have protein but they are also rich in saturated fat. Selecting low fat options for consumption will ensure a good dose of protein, calcium, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin A.

The keyword here is, ‘Low Fat Dairy’. Dairy products do have protein but they are also rich in saturated fat. Selecting low fat options  like semi skimmed milk, low fat mozzarella, low fat yogurt for consumption will ensure a good dose of vegetarian protein (up to 24%), calcium, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin A.

1 gram of protein gives 4 Kcal of energy. In real terms, this means, eating a whole chicken breast (150gms each on average) will result in the addition of 600 Kcal.

#10) Vegetables like Edamame, Broccoli, Asparagus and Peppers

Vegetables may come far down the charts but edamame, broccoli, peppers, asparagus, peas are fairly good sources of protein not to mention all the fibre, nutrients and antioxidants they bring with them. Vegetables should make up the bulk of your meal and are as important as any other source if not more!

Vegetables may come far down the charts when speaking of protein content, but edamame, broccoli, peppers, asparagus and peas among others are fairly good sources of vegetarian protein (about 18%) not to mention all the fibre, nutrients and antioxidants they bring with them. Vegetables should make up the bulk of your meal and are as important as any other meal component, if not more!

As you can see, some of the above mentioned rich sources of protein are also rich in good fats whilst some others are richer in fibre. Some can be expensive to incorporate like Quinoa but Besan or Chick pea flour might be a cheaper option as it has (22 grams of protein per 100 grams). It is all about choosing your ingredients wisely and being aware of what other nutritional elements are present in each food and making them a part of a sensible meal. 

 

References
 1) http://nutritiondata.self.com/
 2) http://www.frysvegetarian.co.uk/vegetarian-sources-of-protein/

  • Reem Khan

    Fantastic, Dr. Sushma!
    ? ? ?

  • Tejaswini kadam

    That sounds good enough for a healthy protein intake for a few days!!! Thanks a lot! My son is an avid skater and his practice sessions are very rigorous so this helps!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Dr. Sushma thanks for your wonderful work. My question is Which one should we choose lowfat Vs. Full fat dairy products? As its said low fat is full of sodium ?

  • Bhavna Bhatt

    Brilliant, thank you-lots of ideas here!

  • Anonymous

    Wow…me enlightened

  • Mrunalini Behere

    Thanks a lot for above information and what about matki or moth and whole moong ?

  • Reena Kiran

    Awesome info Dr Sushma…Thank you so much for making us aware of vegetarian protein sources…

  • Reena Kiran

    Dr. Sushma can you please let us know if TVP(Textured veg protein) and TSP(Textured soy protein) good sources of protein?Heard that soy is deflated at high temperature killing all the nutrients…
    Tia
    Reena

    • Hi Reena, TVP is a very rich source of protein no doubt however, currently what the long term side effects of this product are not available as this is fairly new and not enough research is out there. Just like soya products I would use TVP as a once in a while option rather than a daily affair. Hope this makes sense. :)

  • Pragya

    Thanks a lot for the information. I correlated my protein consumption with the information and it´s good to see that I am on right track. Hope to see more Informative articles by you.

  • deepika

    Thanks dr. Sushma. Want to know is homemade cottage cheese not rich I protein?

    • Yes Deepika cheese is a fairly good source of protein but making a ‘healthier’ choice is the key. For example, although cheese has good amount of protein and calcium in it, I would perhaps replace this a bowl of low fat yogurt and semi skimmed milk and include a can of rajma to get my protein, calcium, fibre and not make paneer an everyday affair due to the saturated fat content in it. Does this make sense? :)

  • Sonali

    This is an awesome write up . Being a vegetarian always looking for protein options .

  • Archana Amin

    Thanks for sharing wonderful tips, I wanted to know could I add homemade cottage cheese tats panner along with sprouts

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  • Abhay

    We all know these stuff but we hardly implement in our lives :-( Atleast I dont