Proteins are known as the building blocks of life: In the body, they break down into amino acids that promote cell growth and repair. (They also take longer to digest than carbohydrates, helping you feel fuller for longer and on fewer calories - a plus for anyone trying to lose weight.) Here are 6 good vegetarian and vegan sources, and tips on how to add them to your diet today.
1. Black Beans - 21g per 100g
Black beans have been gaining in popularity over the years as a healthy side dish, but vegetarians and vegans have known just what a great source of protein they are for quite some time. Black beans are often recommended to those with diabetes as they help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. They are digested gradually by the body, and can help you feel fuller longer. They also help the digestive tract because of their ratio of protein and fiber.
2. Almonds - 21g per 100g
Almonds contain a decent amount of protein for a nut, and their portable nature makes them a great bring-anywhere snack. There is also a lot of fiber in almonds, and they could just as easily make a high fiber foods list with the amount of fiber they contain. Other notable highlights include calcium, iron, and potassium, even magnesium to help you sleep. They have a high fat content, it is mostly healthy fat but you'll still want to take it easy on them and not over consume them for their protein.
3. Sunflower Seeds - 21g per 100g
Sunflower seeds pack in the protein in a small package, and they'll help boost your daily intake of protein in no time flat. Sunflower seeds are emerging as a bona fide super food for all of the benefits they provide. In addition to being high in protein they also help bring down cholesterol levels, and the magnesium they contain can help calm you down. They also contain selenium, which could help prevent cancer. A handful of sunflower seeds can be taken with you anywhere, so use them as a way to hold you over between meals.
4. Cottage Cheese - 11g per 100g
Low-fat cottage cheese is often recommended on diet programs because it provides plenty of protein, without a lot of fat and calories. When paired with fresh fruit it provides a balanced meal of protein and carbohydrates. Cottage cheese also contains vitamins and minerals, but is a bit high in saturated fat so you won't want to eat too much of it in an attempt to make up a lack of protein from not eating meat or cutting back on meat. Vegans will of course take a pass on cottage cheese because it's made from milk, and therefore an animal by-product. Most vegetarians will eat dairy products.
5. Milk and Soy Milk - 3.3g per 100g
Cow's milk and soy milk have the same amount of protein per serving, so vegans can opt for soy milk, and ordinary vegetarians can go with cow's milk. Both soy milk and skim milk have been used as part of a healthy diet to promote weight loss and both contain calcium for stronger teeth and bones. Since many recipes call for milk they're both great ways to bump up the protein level without adding much in the way of fat and calories. No matter which form of milk you go with, be sure it's organic. You'll be avoiding antibiotics and hormones found in ordinary cow's milk, and you'll be staying free of pesticides and herbicides used to grow conventional soybeans.
6. Lentils - 26g per 100g
If you're not eating lentils on a regular basis, you may want to start. They have a surprising amount of protein in them, taking the number two spot on our list. Lentils pack a ton of fiber, so in the same 100 gram serving that nets you 26 grams of protein you're getting your entire days' worth of fiber met. You probably wouldn't eat that serving size in one sitting, but adding it to your diet in any amount is going to be big plus.