Thursday, October 2, 2014

Meatless Protein Options

Are you a vegetarian, vegan or just enjoy having meatless meals? "Going meatless even one day per week may reduce your risk for developing conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity," says Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

You may be wondering if consuming plant-based foods will provide enough protein in your diet, and the answer is YES! IT is possible to get your protein sources from plants, and there are other health benefits in these such as fiber, potassium and decreased saturated fat and cholesterol.

-Beans and lentils, which are cost-effective protein sources and can be bought dried, canned, frozen or fresh. They are protein packed, and are high in fiber as well as vitamins and minerals.

-Tofu and tempeh are soybean products that can be used as a mock meat.

-Some vegetarians include eggs and dairy products in their diets. These sources are high in protein, but may also contain higher saturated fat and cholesterol content. Try purchasing low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

-Vegetables contain protein too! 1 cup of cooked spinach contains about 5 grams of protein, and 1 cup of cooked broccoli contains about 4 grams.

-Grains, nuts and seeds are found in many varieties and can be added to meals or eaten as snacks.
The whole grain, quinoa, is considered a complete protein (containing all of the essential amino acids, usually just found in meat). ½ cup of quinoa will provide 4 grams of protein.

-Meat substitutes are abundant in the grocery isles, but tend to be heavily processed, higher in fat, sodium and sugar than other plant proteins. Be sure to check the food label and eat these sparingly.

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