A Vegan Guide to Plant-based Proteins

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Where do you get your protein ?

Be ready to answer that question when you start transitioning to a vegan lifestyle because some people were taught that only animal products contain proteins.

What is Proteins?

Proteins can be found in every cell of our body. They are the building block of our muscles, skin, hair and others tissues. They are made of long chains of molecules called amino acids. These can be divided in 3 groups: essential, semi-essential and non-essential.

  • Essential amino acids cannot be made by our body and must be obtained through food.
  • Non-essential acids can be produced by our own.
  • Semi-essential amino acids must come from food .They are needed if our system is stressed, out of balance or in cases of extreme trauma.

Protein Functions

Proteins play many important roles in the body:

  • Building, repairing and maintaining body tissues
  • Supporting the immune system cells and attacking viruses and bacteria
  • Transporting nutrients and other compounds through the blood
  • Accelerating chemical reactions like digestion
  • Coordinating body activities and communication between cells, tissues and organs
  • Supplying energy

Protein Intake Recommendations

Often newly vegans think that they will lack proteins if they stop eating meat and dairy. Actually, according to the U.S. Government Department of Health and Human Services, most people eat more proteins than they need.

10% of our total daily calories should come from proteins. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends a daily allowance of 0,8mg/kg body weight (about 44 grams for a 120-pound woman and 55 grams for a 150-pound man).

If you are not sure how many grams you consume daily, a lots of free applications are available online.

Best Sources of Plant-Based Proteins

A diet rich in proteins includes lots of vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts.

Here’s a list of the best sources of plant-based proteins by category :

Beans  (1 cup)

  • Tempeh : 30,78 g
  • Lupins, cooked : 25,85 g
  • Tofu, firm : 19,88 g
  • Lentils, cooked : 17,86 g
  • Chickpeas, cooked : 14,53 g
  • White beans, cooked : 17,42 g
  • Adzuki beans, cooked : 17,30 g
  • Pinto beans, cooked : 15,41 g
  • Red kidney beans, cooked : 15,35 g
  • Black beans, cooked : 15,24 g
  • Lima beans, cooked : 14,66 g
  • Mung beans, cooked : 14,18 g

Nuts & Seeds (1/4 cup)

  • Pumpkin Seeds : 9,75 g
  • Almonds : 8,33 g
  • Walnuts : 7,52 g
  • Sunflower seeds : 6,77 g
  • Pistachios : 6,44 g
  • Cashews : 5,43 g
  • Brazil nuts : 4,76 g
  • Pine nuts : 4,62 g
  • Hazelnuts : 4,29 g
  • Macadamia nuts : 2,65 g
  • Pecans : 2,50 g

Grains and Pasta  (1 cup)

  • Cornmeal : 11,16 g
  • Amaranth grain, cooked : 9,35
  • Quinoa, cooked : 8,14 g
  • Macaroni, cooked : 8,12 g
  • Oat bran, cooked : 7,03 g
  • Millet, cooked : 6,11 g
  • Couscous, cooked : 5,95 g
  • Buckwheat, cooked : 5,68 g
  • Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked : 5,03 g
  • Rice, white, long-grain,cooked : 4,60 g
  • Barley, pearled, cooked : 3,55 g

Vegetables  (1 cup)

  • Edamame : 16,86 g
  • Peas : 11,13 g
  • Potatoes, red, flesh and skin, baked : 6,88 g
  • Potatoes, white, flesh and skin : 6,28 g
  • Broccoli : 5,70 g
  • Spinach : 5,66g
  • Brussels sprouts : 5,64 g
  • Bulgur, cooked : 5,61 g
  • Corn, sweet, whiter yellow, kernels on cob : 5,41 g
  • Asparagus : 5,31 g
  • Collards : 5,15 g
  • Sweet potatoes : 4,49g
  • Artichokes : 4,19g

Fruits (1 cup)

    • Apricot, dehydrated : 5,88 g
    • Raisins : 5,07
    • Avocados : 3,00 g
    • Figs, dried : 3,68 g
    • Dates : 3,60 g
    • Banana : 2,45 g
    • Kiwi, gold : 2.29 g
    • Orange : 2,21 g
    • Kiwi, green : 2,05 g
    • Grapefruit : 2,02 g
    • Mulberries : 2,02 g
    • Blackberries : 2,00 g

For more detailed lists, see the links below :

Fruits USDA Protein List

Vegetables USDA Protein List

Nuts & Seeds USDA Protein List

Grain & Pasta USDA Protein List

Legumes USDA Protein List


References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nutrition for Everyone, Protein, last updated: October 4, 2012

Food and Nutrition Board – Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. 2005, 500-589

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Human Sciences, Protein in the body

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27, Software v.2.1.5, Nutrient Lists, Nutrients: Protein(g), Measured by: Household

 

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