Non-vegetarian diets, and to some extent, even eggetarian diets, are hailed for their ability to provide high amounts of protein. Vegetarians, on the other hand, are almost always left to find protein in traditional sources like paneer (cottage cheese), soy and lentils. And even then, they hardly ever manage to meet their daily requirements. Time to change that – here is a list of seven foods that you probably never considered including in your diet, but are super high in their protein content!
1. Chickpeas And Most Varieties Of Beans
Most varieties of beans, including kidney beans and black beans, have high protein content as do chickpeas. They are also excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, fibre, folate, iron and phosphorus and several other nutritious plant compounds. They also help in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, besides controlling sugar levels and reducing fat in your body.
It is made from gluten found in wheat and is one of the richest sources of protein. It also has minerals like selenium, calcium, iron and phosphorus and looks like meat once it is cooked. You can cook seitan in different ways – pan fry, sauté or grill.
Although this food is popular among vegetarians and vegans looking to eat a high-protein diet, it should be avoided by those who have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and/or wheat allergy. Make sure you buy organic, not processed seitan. Wondering how much protein this food has? Well, brace yourself for this – approximately 70-75 grams of protein per 100 grams!
3. Tofu, Tempeh And Edamame
All three originate from soyabeans, which are a whole source of protein and provide all the necessary amino acids to your body.
Edamame are immature soyabeans that have a sweet and grassy taste. They can be eaten as they are or they can also be added to soups and salads. But in either case, they should be steamed or boiled.
Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together. It doesn’t have a taste of its own and therefore absorbs the flavor of the spices it is cooked with. You can replace cottage cheese with tofu if you are looking to increase your protein intake while keeping a check on fat consumption.
Tempeh is made by slightly fermenting mature soyabeans before pressing into a patty. It has a nutty flavor.
All three are good sources of iron, calcium and protein. Edamame also has folate, vitamin-K and fibre. Tempeh contains probiotics, vitamin-B, magnesium and phosphorus.
4. Quinoa And Amaranth
They are gluten-free grains that grow differently than other cereals and are hence called pseudocereals. However, they can be ground into flours like wheat or rice. Both quinoa and amaranth are good sources of protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, iron, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium.
You can make different foods like chappattis, porridge and salads with these grains. Amaranth is called Rajgira in Hindi and has all the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is not present in most other grains.
5. Chia Seeds
They are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, iron and several other beneficial plant compounds. They are bland in taste and easily absorb water, which gives them a gel-like consistency.
You can add chia seeds to your smoothies, coconut water or even eat them directly. They have all the nine essential amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, lysine, tryptophan, methionine, valine, phenylalanine, histadine and threonine.
6. Protein Rich Fruits And Vegetables
Most vegetables and fruits contain small amount of protein. However vegetables like broccoli, spinach, asparagus, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts have more protein than others. Sweet corn is also a good source of protein. Guavas and bananas are a few fruits that have higher protein content as compared to others. You include these fruits and veggies in your daily meals to get the required amount of protein regularly.
Lentils are a great source of protein; these slowly digested carbohydrates also have high-quality fibre, the type that feeds the good bacteria in your colon, thereby promoting a healthy gut. Lentils are rich in folate, manganese and iron, besides having a good amount of antioxidants and other health promoting plant compounds. They also reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, excess body weight and some types of cancer.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. Buckwheat, Greek yoghurt, hemp seeds, spelt, green peas, spirulina, soy milk, nuts and oats are also good source of protein and have other nutrients too. All these should be eaten alternatively so that there is a change of flavour to look forward to and you also get the required nutrition.