Ask the Dietitian: "What are the best sources of plant-based foods and why are they so trendy?"
Getting enough protein from plant sources is easier than ever.Welcome to our series, Ask the Dietitian, where Pendulum Dietitian Kristin Neusel answers all of your burning nutrition and diet-related questions. Kristin is here to inform and empower you in all the food choices you make for yourself.
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Being a Registered Dietitian, I hear a lot of “buzz words”, questions about fad diets, and the latest trends in food. Over the past few years, “plant-based proteins” have continued to be a big trend for people across the country as we switch from a heavily meat-based diet to focusing on more plant-based foods. But why the sudden interest in plant-based proteins? I’ll share my insights below along with a few great ideas for plant-based proteins you can incorporate into your diet.
Everyone has different reasons for why they are 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 have been getting asked a lot of questions about how people can incorporate more plant-based proteins in their diets.
Plant-based diets, in general, are usually high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can help lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol (LDL), reduce the risk of diabetes and help maintain a healthy weight (1). This isn’t to say that you have to completely cut out meat products to achieve this, and it’s also not saying that all plant-based products are “healthy”. Take a look at white bread, for instance. It is plant-based, but it is highly processed. To see if this 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