Protein – we know it’s essential for growth, repair, the heart, immune system and of course for our muscles. When we hear the word protein, most of us think of the stock standard animal protein sources such as fish, chicken or beef. But with plant-based choices being more popular now, we thought we should look at some non-animal, natural food sources rich in protein. Which ones will you try?
1) Spirulina & Chlorella:
Both types of green algae contain a massive 60–71% protein. Furthermore, they are excellent sources of amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and chlorophyll. You can place a tablespoon of the powdered form varieties in your daily smoothie or juice. Alternatively, you can take them in tablet form.
100g of these little beauties contain 21g of protein! They’re full of fibre, omega 3 fatty acids and lignans (phytoestrogen that protects us against cancer). The milled variety of flaxseeds can easily be sprinkled over porridge, enjoyed in smoothies and added to other recipes.
3) Lentils and Beans:
Listen up; this is impressive! 100g of lentils has 9g of protein, and 100g of chickpeas has a massive 19g. However, the winner is black beans, or kidney beans weigh in at an amazing 23g of protein per 100g! Lentils and beans can so easily be tossed into salads and added as a side to any meal.
4) Maca (a root plant):
A total superfood. 100g of this superfood powder contains 14g of protein. Besides protein, Maca contains iron, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium, zinc, silica and copper. Furthermore, it has been found to increase your stamina, strength, and endurance. It comes in both capsule and powdered form. For example, in powder form, you could sprinkle a teaspoon over porridge or mix it into smoothies – it’s especially delicious in raw chocolate.
5) Chia Seeds:
Did you know that 50g chia seeds contain 8.5g protein? This is in addition to high amounts of fibre, calcium (in amounts that put milk to shame) and all 9 essential amino acids. Best of all, Chia seeds have no flavour, so you can easily add them to meals without altering the taste. You can even pour them into a glass of water and drink them!
This little goldmine is loaded with protein. 1 cup of this couscous look-a-like seed contains 8.14g of protein. Quinoa is a complete protein meaning it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that are crucial to body function. It’s gluten-free, basically tasteless and can be used in various ways from porridge to a rice substitute.
7) Almonds and Almond Butter:
These well-known treats contain a whopping 6-8g of protein per handful. Try and enjoy them daily, as a morning snack perhaps? Try to go for a raw, unsalted almond for maximum nutritional benefits.
8) Hemp Seeds:
These seeds make you feel full because 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds contain an amazing 5g of protein. Hemp is also high in potassium, fibre, iron, vitamin A and minerals including zinc, magnesium, and iron. Sprinkle over your morning porridge or your salad at lunch. You can pop them into your smoothies and incorporate them into most recipes.
9) Dark Leafy Green Vegetables:
Yes, this is a regularly overlooked group as many people don’t realize that leafy greens pack a healthy protein-rich punch! So how much protein are we talking you ask? Well..
250g of spinach has 7g
250g of kale has 4g
250g of chard has 3g
250g of collard greens has 2g.
A great alternative to meat. Can be added to salads, stir-fried or even made into scramble instead of eggs! A 100g serving of ‘naked’ (unflavored) tofu can give you as much as 12.6g of protein. This food source also contains all 9 essential amino acids!
So there you have it. In the end, though, the choice is yours – carnivore, herbivore or maybe a little of both? Whatever you decide, do what’s best for you and what you feel your body needs. Happy, healthy eating, folks!!!