Ask the Dietitian: 'What Are the Best Sources of Plant-Based Foods?

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Ask the Dietitian: "What are the best sources of plant-based foods and why are they so trendy?"

By Kristin Neusel, MS, RD, LD, CDCES

We have begun to switch from meat-based to plant-based foods, and as a result “plant-based proteins” are piquing the interest of people everywhere.  

Everyone has different reasons for focusing on plant-based proteins.

  • For some, it’s because they believe by eating plant-based proteins—rather than meat—it will help the environment.
  • For others, they are vegan and must turn to plants to obtain the protein their body needs
  • Perhaps others want to improve their cholesterol so they are switching to more of a plant-based diet
Whatever the reason, I get asked lots of questions about how people can incorporate more plant-based proteins in their diets. 

 

What are plant-based diets?

In general, plant-based diets are usually:

  • High in fiber
  • High in vitamins
  • High in minerals

This can help lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol (LDL), reduce the risk of diabetes and help maintain a healthy weight (1).

I'm not saying that you have to completely cut out meat products to achieve these health benefits. I'm also not saying that all plant-based products are “healthy" (take a look at white bread which is plant-based, but also highly processed). 

To see if a plant-based diet is right for you, always speak with your healthcare provider. 

Good sources of plant-based proteins
  • Tofu: 20 grams of protein/1 cup
  • Lentils: 18 grams of protein/1 cup- easily add these to soups or casseroles for added protein AND fiber
  • Edamame: 15 grams of protein in half a cup- a great side, or snack when these are dried
  • Chickpeas (canned): 10 grams of protein/1 cup- air fry these and toss in a salad or pack as a snack
  • Almonds: 10 grams of protein/ ½ cup
  • Quinoa: 8 grams of protein/1cup- swap out your rice for quinoa, or try finding a good quinoa burger recipe
  • Rolled oats: 7 grams of protein/ ½ cup- toss these on your morning yogurt
  • Hemp seeds: 6.5 grams of protein/2 tablespoons- toss in a salad or bowl for lunch
  • Powdered peanut butter: 5 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons- powdered peanut butters have way less fat, but still a good amount of protein!
  • Chia seeds: 4.5 grams of protein/ 1 oz- you can add these to tons of recipes without really impacting flavor but adding protein
  • Sprouted bread: 4 grams of protein in 1 slice- make a sandwich and you’re adding 8 grams of protein easily

If you have any questions about the gut microbiome diet, Pendulum has registered dietitians who can help you

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Interested in submitting a question to Kristin? Email it to her at nutrition@pendulumlife.com and we’ll try to answer it in an upcoming post!

References
  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-right-plant-based-diet-for-you
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