Sources Of Plant-Based Protein

Good plant-based foods can be great sources of protein and other nutrients, often with fewer calories than animal products. Some plant products, such as soybeans and quinoa, are complete proteins, which means they contain all nine essential amino acids that humans need. Some of these amino acids are missing, so it is important to eat a varied diet.


The lentil is an edible legume. It is an annual plant known for its lens-shaped seeds. It is about 40 cm tall, and the seeds grow in pods, usually with two seeds in each. As a food crop, the majority of world production comes from Canada and India, producing 58% combined of the world total. Lentils also contain good amounts of slowly digested carbs, and a single cup (240 ml) provides approximately 50% of your recommended daily fiber intake.

Cooked lentils contain 8.84 g of protein per ½ cup.

Lentils are a great source of protein to add to a lunch or dinner routine. They can be added to stews, curries, salads, or rice to give an extra portion of protein.

Chickpeas and Varieties of Beans

One of the most popular and widely used legumes in the Middle Eastern diet is the chickpea. Chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans in Spanish cooking and Ceci beans in Italian. Beans and chickpeas contain about 15 grams of protein per cup cooked (240ml). They are also excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, iron, folic acid, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and several beneficial plant compounds.

What’s more, several studies show that a diet high in beans and other legumes can lower cholesterol, help control blood sugar, lower blood pressure and even reduce belly fat. Chickpeas can be eaten hot or cold, and are highly versatile with plenty of recipes available online. They can, for example, be added to stews and curries, or spiced with paprika and roasted in the oven.

A person can add hummus, which is made from chickpea paste, to a sandwich for a healthful, protein-rich alternative to butter.

Spelt and Teff

Teff is an ancient grain, small in size and packed with nutrition. Because the grains of teff are so small, the bulk of the grain consists of the bran and germ. This makes teff nutrient dense as the bran and germ are the most nutritious parts of any grain. This grain has a very high calcium content, and contains high levels of phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin. It is considered to have an excellent amino acid composition, with lysine levels higher than wheat or barley. Teff is very high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. It contains no gluten so it is appropriate for those with gluten intolerance.

Spelt is similar to wheat in appearance, but it has a tougher husk than wheat that may help protect the nutrients inside the grain; in fact spelt is an ancestor of modern wheat. A wonderfully nutritious and ancient grain, spelt is an excellent source of protein, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and fiber. It has vitamin E and B-complex vitamins too (selenium, zinc, iron, and manganese especially niacin).  The fiber in spelt can also help to reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels. Avoid whole wheat, white flour, whole purpose flour, cake flour, wheat crackers, store bought cookies, most breakfast cereals, thickeners and many snack foods made from wheat.


Hemp seeds contain almost as much protein as soybeans. In every 30 grams (g) of seeds, or about 3 tablespoons, there are 9.46 g of protein. These seeds are a complete source of protein, meaning that they provide nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for all proteins. The body cannot produce nine of these acids, so a person must absorb them through the diet. Relatively few plant-based foods are complete sources of protein, making hemp seeds a valuable addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Hemp seeds are especially rich in an amino acid called arginine, which has benefits for heart health.


Mycoprotein is a fungus-based protein. Mycoprotein products contain approximately 13 g of protein per ½ cup serving. Products containing mycoproteins are often advertised as meat substitutes and are available as chicken nuggets or chops. However, many of these products contain egg white, so people should be sure to check the label. Very few people are allergic to Fusarium venenatum, the fungus from which the brand of mycoproteins known as Quorn is made. People with a history of fungus allergies or have many food allergies may wish to consider an alternate source of protein.


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