Although the average American (omnivorous or herbivorous) gets way more protein than they need, if you're worried about getting enough plant-based protein on your diet, try adding these 10 vegan protein sources to your plate.
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How to Add More Nuts and Seeds to Your Diet
There are few nutrients that enjoy as much time in the spotlight as protein. Don't get me wrong...proteins are important. They are the building blocks of cellular life. From the hair on the top of your head to the tips of your toenails, and everything in between, all cells in your body come from protein. Protein doesn’t just build and repair your living tissue, it also makes enzymes, hormones, and more. There’s just no way around it; we need protein. And plant-based protein is the way to go, especially for athletes.
But how much do you actually need? And can you get enough protein from vegan protein sources?
We’re here to put your mind at ease! Here’s the skinny on all things plant-based protein, including recommended dietary intake and how to ensure you're getting what you need.
Did you know plant-based dieters get about 70% more daily protein than their bodies need? This is roughly the same daily protein intake consumed by those with traditional omnivorous diets.
That’s right. Whether or not you eat animal products, you’re probably getting more than enough protein in your diet. As long as you’re eating a good range of plant foods, you really don’t need to be tracking your protein intake or combing over nutrition labels.
Your protein needs depend on your activity level, age, and other factors, but a good rule of thumb to calculate recommended daily protein allowance is to take your body weight (in pounds) and multiply it by 0.36. This will give you approximately how much protein you need(in grams). (2)
Still wondering “How much protein do I need a day?” Let’s do some quick math:
If you weigh 165 lbs, your protein requirement would be 165 x 0.36 = 59.4 grams of protein per day.
Or just 2 cups of edamame. That’s it! No need to stock up on protein powders (better yet, it's best if you don't — there are some funky ingredients hiding in most commercial vegan protein powders!)
Try whole food vegan protein sources instead, like...
1. Add Pumpkin Seeds
A one ounce handful of pumpkin seeds has 9.2 grams of protein! And these seeds are more that just a plant-based protein food. Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc which is great for boosting your immune system.
2. Add Peanuts/Peanut Butter
A one ounce handful of peanuts or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter each have 7.3 grams of protein.
Turns out protein isn’t all peanut butter has going for it. Peanuts are high in magnesium which is fantastic for your muscles. Just be sure to choose all natural low or no sodium nut butters, with zero added sugar.
3. Add Hemp Seeds
A one ounce handful has about 6.3 grams of protein.
These are perhaps the easiest plant-based protein booster because hemp seeds don’t have too much flavor, so they can be added to anything! They are loaded with vitamin E, too — hello beautiful skin!
4. Add Beans and Lentils
Beans are one of our favorite vegan protein sources because they're also chock full of fiber. High fiber diets are beneficial for heart health, brain health, gut health, and well, pretty much everything because of their anti-inflammatory properties.
Try bean or lentil pasta in place of white pasta, or mashed up chickpeas in your baked goods for an extra protein kick!
5. Add Almonds
A one ounce handful has 6 grams of protein so snack on! Almonds, almond butter, and almond flour also all help to combat high LDL levels and prevent LDL oxidation, which can benefit heart health.
6. Add Sunflower Seeds
A one ounce handful has 5.4 grams of protein. While these seeds are a great plant-based protein source, they're high in Omega-6’s, so make sure you are getting a healthy balance of Omega-3s, too. (Pro tip: flaxseeds are a great plant-based source of Omega-3s!).
7. Add Cashews
A one ounce handful of cashews has 5.16 grams of plant-based protein. And if you didn't know already, cashews are a vegan's BFF because cashew cream is the very best way to make dairy-free dishes creamy.
8. Add Flaxseeds
A one ounce handful of flaxseeds has 5.2 grams of protein. And if a mouthful of whole flaxseeds doesn't sound like your jam (we don't blame you), you can still benefit from this plant-based protein source. Ground flaxseed is easy to mix into baked goods as a vegan egg replacer, blend into smoothies, and sprinkle on your salad. It has a mild and nutty flavor...plus these little seeds are packed with fiber!
9. Add Sesame Seeds
A one ounce handful of sesame seeds has 4.7 grams of protein. Toasted or raw, sesame seeds are a great vegan protein source to add a nice texture to your dish. You can even grind them into a paste called tahini (then make this delicious oil-free tahini dressing!). Sesame seeds are also high in calcium, and iron, so they make a great topping for someone who eats mostly plant-based.
10. Eat WHOLE grains
Refined grains are stripped of their nutrients and fiber, which can cause spikes and dips in our blood sugar and leave our guts out of whack. Whole grains still have all the nutrients, including protein, in tact! So choose whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and barley over white flour and white rice.
Notice a lot of these protein boosters are nuts and seeds...but not sure how to incorporate them into your day? We've got you.
- Top your oatmeal
- Blend into your pancake or baked good batter
- Sprinkle on your sandwich
- Sprinkle on your salad
- Sprinkle on your soup
- Blend into your soup
- Blend into your smoothie
- Sprinkle onto a stir fry
- Stir into your cereal
- Calculate how much protein you ACTUALLY need, it may not be as much as you think.
- Add more nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains to your diet to boost your plant-based protein intake.
By Caroline DiNicola Fawley
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.