by Issi Brookes ~ Feb 2020
Protein is an essential macro-nutrient that helps build muscle, repair tissue, and make enzymes and hormones in our bodies. Basically, it is one of the building blocks of our bone, muscle, and skin and is an important component of almost every cell in the body. Eating adequate amounts of good quality protein is essential to our health, and with plant protein in particular gaining plenty of attention in today’s media, we take a look at the benefits of including it in your diet.
As the name suggests, plant proteins are the protein that come from plant sources. They differ from animal proteins in that they aren’t a complete source of essential amino acids. BUT DON’T WORRY! This is actually one of the beauties of these foods as you can mix and match different foods in order to meet those essential amino acid needs, allowing for a huge variety of dishes you can create.
A commission was set up in 2017 by scientists around the world (the EAT-Lancet Commission) in order to address the growing need to feed a growing global population a healthy diet that has minimal impact on the environment.
They define a healthy, sustainable diet as “rich in fruit, vegetable and whole-grains with minimal animal proteins”
Let’s take a look at the top three reasons for increasing plant proteins in your diet…
- The Nutrient Profile Is HUGE! Generally speaking, plant-based sources of protein have a bigger nutrient profile than animal sources. They are jammed pack full of all the good stuff including vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants as well as vital protein. They can provide nutrients that animal sources can’t, such as folate, Vitamin E and Vitamin K which are essential for us. On top of that, by being an incomplete source of essential amino acids (which can be seen as a negative) it allows for more variation in foods through texture, flavour and colours. And, if you compare the nutrient profile of a 100g lean steak to 100g of lentils you will see that lentils actually have more protein (28.3g vs. 20.4g). Along with that, lentils are a rich source of folate, niacin, potassium and fibre.
- Lowering Your Risk Of Heart Disease: Protein doesn’t directly affect the development of atherosclerosis and CHD, rather it has been shown that plant-based sources of protein do lower the risk of developing these conditions. The development of these diseases are linked to saturated fat, which increases LDL (bad ) cholesterol in the bloodstream, which can in turn lead to blockages in arteries, strokes and heart attacks. Basically, animal products tend to have higher amounts of saturated fat as compared to plant products, so by consuming plant-protein you are able to lower your risk of developing these conditions.
- And, You Are Helping The Planet! You can not only help the environment by using your keep cup, you can eat to save the planet too! Plant-based products tend to produce less greenhouse gas emissions during production, have a lower production cost and less wastage. By choosing these products, you can help make a difference to help our beautiful planet as well as your health.
There are so many benefits of consuming plant proteins for both you and the environment, and the change can be as simple as just increasing your consumption of plant-based proteins. Try challenging yourself to having one plant-based meal a day, or even go for one full day per week. Spice up your Bolognese by either removing mince and swapping for lentils, or try reducing the amount of mince and adding lentils in. Use chickpeas, beans and edamame to bulk up your salads and stir fry.
Is it time to give plant-based protein a go?