Alternative sources of protein when we want to limit meat

We cannot doubt that a plant-based diet offers human health benefits. People who consume vegetable foods in their daily diet have lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease, blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Proteins are present in both vegetable and animal products. Lentils, beans, soy, and its products are very good sources of protein that can compete with many animal foods. The point where vegetable foods lag behind animals is in the protein components, the amino acids.

Protein-rich foods provide 20 amino acids in our body, 11 of which can be produced by our body. The rest that our body cannot synthesize itself must be provided by the diet.

Animal products contain all the amino acids necessary for the maintenance and development of the body and therefore animal proteins are considered to be of high biological value. Conversely, plant proteins do not provide all the essential amino acids. Soy is the only exception, as it provides all 9 of the essential amino acids.

However, it was previously believed that foods with low amino acids should be combined with others that had more so that the body could obtain the 9 proteins needed to function properly. We now know that if there is a variety of vegetable foods in the daily diet then there will be no problem of missing the necessary protein.

In the question of which foods provide proteins that can replace animals, we can see in the table below that a cup of soy or tofu provides as much protein as would provide 90g. meat, chicken or fish. Legumes are also an alternative source of protein, as lentils and beans provide about 18 and 15g. per cup respectively.

The following table shows some protein-rich vegetable foods that are a nutritional alternative for people who want to reduce meat.

  1. Eating Protein (grams)
  2. Nuts
  3. Almonds, ¼ cup
  4. Mixed nuts, ¼ cup 6
  5. Peanuts, ¼ cup 9.5
  6. Walnuts, ¼ cup 4.5
  7. 1/3 cup sunflower seeds 6
  8. Tahini, 2 tablespoons 5
  9. Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons 8
  10. Cereals
  11. Quinoa, cooked, 1 cup 8
  12. Brown rice, cooked, 1 cup 5
  13. Wholemeal bread, 1 slice 6
  14. Rye flour, cooked, 1 cup 6
  15. Boiled oatmeal, 1 cup 6
  16. Legumes & soy products
  17. Lentils, cooked, 1 cup 18
  18. Black beans, cooked, 1 cup 15
  19. Beans, cooked, 1 cup 13
  20. Soybeans, cooked, 1 cup 22
  21. Cooked soybeans, 1/3 cup 10
  22. Tofu, ¾ cup 15.5
  23. Vegetable burger, 60g 14

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