Protein is a buzzword these days, but what is protein? And how much protein do you need? What are the ideal plant-based protein sources? Can you have too much protein?
What Is Protein
Protein is an essential nutrient for the building, maintenance, and repair of almost all the tissues in your body, including your bones, muscles, blood, hair, nails, and organs. As for how much protein a person needs, the answer is the amount that a diet of whole, plant-based foods provides. Are you concerned about not getting enough protein? Don’t be. All whole, plant-based foods have protein. People thrive on a plant-based diet without ever going out of their way to find sources of protein. Indeed, we’ve evolved over millions of years without ever aiming for a “source” of this or any other nutrient.
Protein: 9 g per ½-cup serving
Low-cal, high-fiber, and high-protein lentils can be morphed into a nutrient-dense side dish, veggie burger, or even whipped into a hummus-like dip. Bonus: They’ve been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease.
Protein: 7.6 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)
Black beans are also packed with heart-healthy fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and a range of phytonutrients.
Protein: 7.3 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)
What, you haven’t had these since you were 10? Well, good news: In addition to filling protein, lima beans contain the amino acid leucine, which may play a big role in healthy muscle synthesis among older adults.
Peanuts or Peanut Butter
Protein: 7 g per ¼-cup serving (or 2 Tbsp peanut butter)