Vegetable proteins are those with a raw material that is exclusively related to a non-animal source. As such, proteins are the macronutrient in charge of performing essential functions for life and the will work like animal proteins do.
- 1. Why do we need to consume proteins?
- 2. Sources of Vegetable Proteins
- 3. Advantages of Proteins of vegetable Origin
- 4. Where can we find vegetable proteins?
- 5. Types of Vegetable Proteins
- 6. Which are the Vegetable Proteins?
- 7. Benefits of Vegetable Proteins
- 8. Vegetable Protein and Sportspeople
- 9. Related Entries
Why do we need to consume proteins?
They are one of the fundamental nutrients for any biological process, which is why they are very important in any type of sport diet – They intervene in the digestive process, protect the circulatory system and they make up a fundamental part of the tissues and organs. The amount of proteins that you need will depend on your physical condition, type of training and objectives.
Even though they are mainly found in higher concentrations in foods of animal origin, there are several foods of vegetable origin that are capable of providing different types of proteins, even with some benefits that meat does not have. Even though many of these foods are consumed specially in vegan diets, they can be perfectly combined with an animal protein, which will provide variety a new benefits in fitness diets.
Sources of Vegetable Proteins
Advantages of Proteins of vegetable Origin
Those proteins of vegetable origin have great advantages like:
- Low fat content.
- Ability to contribute to reducing the cholesterol.
- Prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Where can we find vegetable proteins?
We can find them in soy, nuts, cereals and their derivatives, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, legumes, and vegetables. If we combine them within a balanced diet, these protein foods of vegetable origin can provide an important amount of proteins for our organism.
Types of Vegetable Proteins
Depending on the type of vegetable raw material used we can find:
Which are the Vegetable Proteins?
1. Soy and Tofu
It is one of the richest sources of vegetable protein. It has around 37g of proteins per 100g and it has low levels of saturated fats. Tofu, tempeh, and soy hamburgers are great alternatives made of soy which have a lot of protein, apart from calcium and iron. It is also advisable to cook stews with soy, legumes, and chickpeas.
It is one of the best vegetable foods rich in proteins. A cup of boiled quinoa has 18g of vegetable proteins. Quinoa is regarded as a super cereal that also has vitamins, minerals, carbs, and a great amount of amino acids. It helps to reduce the cholesterol and the risk of suffering diabetes. It is also used in diets to control or lose weight and it helps to control of blood pressure.
Produced from wheat gluten, seitan is also called “the vegetable meat”. Apart from having a similar percentage of protein to meat (20g per 100g), it is practically cholesterol-free and it is quite versatile when it comes to cooking it. In order to enhance its benefits you can combine it with cereals to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies.
Legumes, either if they are lentils, chickpeas, beans, or soy, are one of the foods of vegetable origin with a higher protein content. If they are combined with some cereal, they provide a great quality protein that can be compared to that of meat. They are low in fat and have great amounts of carbs and fiber. A cup of lentils is capable of providing 18g of proteins.
It is a basic and universal food. Its main benefits are due to the fact that it does not have cholesterol nor sodium, it is a complex carbohydrate, easy to digest, and it also has high quality protein. Brown or wild rice has around a 40% more proteins than white rice. The absence of lysine within the amino acids that are present in rice can be compensated by combining it with other foods like lentils, so that we get a complete protein.
Amaranth is considered one of the most nutritious plants in the world. This pseudocereal is one of the vegetable foods that are rich in proteins. It is rich in the lysine amino acid, which is absent from most of the cereals. Apart from its nutritional supply, it has a high content in vitamins, fiber, healthy fats, and magnesium. Its properties can be found in its leaves and seeds.
7. Spirulina Algae
Spirulina is mainly used as a nutritional supplement in fitness diets. Apart from being a safe source of nutritious elements like vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids, it has proteins that are more digestible than those of animal origin. It is a source of vegetable proteins. Every spoonful of dry spirulina provides 7g of extra protein and barely any calories.
8. Chia Seeds
The Chia seeds are called a “superfood” because their composition provides an important amount of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. They have a 23% of proteins, which helps to regenerate the muscles and tissues. Moreover, these seeds are a great support during weight loss diets, growth periods, and for the treatment of several diseases.
The maca root has approximately an 11% of proteins. Moreover, it also works as a multivitamin, it contains minerals in their natural state, and it is regarded as an energizing plant. It is used to treat diseases like tuberculosis, anemia, leukemia, due to the fact that it has essential nutrients for life.
Even though they belong to the leguminous family, peas could be included in this classification. They are an important source of remarkable nutrients in vegetable proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals; they barely provide any fat and just a few calories. The pea protein is becoming a great alternative to other sources.
A bunch of nuts daily can be an important nutritional supply for our organism. The almonds provide approximately 20g of vegetable proteins per 100 g, while walnuts provide 14 g and hazelnuts 12 g. They also provide a great percentage of healthy fats, and they can be perfectly combined with legumes, whole cereals, or vegetables. Other less known nuts can also be a nice source of proteins: pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, or macadamia nuts.
It is becoming more and more common to see hemp protein shakes in many sport nutrition stores and parapharmacies. Like the rest of the proteins that have been mentioned, a 100% vegetable protein is ideal for vegetarian and vegan diets. It is not a complete protein and it does not have the appropriate proportion of essential amino acids. However, hemp is the closest to a complete source of protein when compared to other products made from seeds, except for soy.
Benefits of Vegetable Proteins
Vegetable proteins provide a series of benefits such as:
- Amino acids for the growth and regeneration of the muscles
- They do not have cholesterol, since this is found only in foods of animal origin
- These proteins do not have lactose, which is a type of carbohydrate derived specifically from milk, which is therefore not found in vegetable sources
- They are easy to digest and therefore they will not cause stomach upsets
Vegetable Protein and Sportspeople
There are many sportspeople and athletes that follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, which means that they do not get their amino acids from animal sources. But despite that fact, their performance and recovery has not been compromised at all, on the contrary, in many cases it has even improved. Many of these athletes are even Olympic competitors.
When it comes to the protein demands, athletes have greater requirements than the rest of the population. The workouts are physical activities that cause the breakdown of muscle tissue, which makes it necessary to supply enough material for their regeneration, which mainly consists on amino acids. Vegetable proteins tend to lack or be low in some amino acids. However, taking a daily intake from several different sources of vegetable proteins will completely solve this issue, since our bodies will ultimately have the entire spectrum of amino acids (the aminogram) with which to carry out the actions that are attributed to them. Consuming products like vegetable protein shakes will make this more simple.
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