Regardless of what lifestyle you practice, we all can benefit from a diet rich in plants, fibre, minerals, phytonutrients, and all the health benefits that result from these foods
Protein is an important component of a cell in the body. This is because the hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Also because your body uses protein to build and repair tissues, eating enough protein is important. The same nutrient is useful in making enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals that help in the functioning of the body.
The following foods, according to Fausta Akech, a nutritionist at Healthy U, are excellent plant protein sources.
Most seeds, especially chia seeds are high in proteins and fibre. They are low in calories and contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are a complete source of protein that contains two grammes of protein and 5.5 grammes of fibre per tablespoon.
“Chia seeds have become a popular food and they are not only easy to digest but are also a very versatile ingredient that you can easily add to any recipe. They can be added to soups, smoothies, yoghurt or soaking them in water,” she says.
Aketch says legumes are great protein sources. They include lentils, green peas, soy, chickpeas and beans. They are also good for digestive health and blood sugar balance since they contain large amounts of fibre and phytonutrients, including anti-inflammatory quercetin.
“There are several varieties of bean including black, white, green, yellow and many others but one thing they all have in common is their high amounts of protein,” she adds.
Dr Pius Mwanja, a general practitioner at Linflink Medical Centre, says fruits such as guavas, avocados, blackberries, oranges, bananas, raspberries and peaches are good protein sources that also have a multitude of vitamins content to boost your immunity. “For example, apples are a lower potassium fruit that acts as a natural cleanser for the body,” he says.
Akech says: “Most dark-coloured, leafy greens and vegetables contain protein. Eaten alone, they are not enough to meet daily protein requirements, but a few vegetable snacks can increase protein intake, particularly when combined with other protein-rich foods. Broccoli, kale and mushrooms are good protein sources you can incorporate into your diet.”
Grains and cereals
According to Fausta Akech, a nutritionist at Healthy U, Oats, millet, rye, sorghum are all good protein sources. Maize is a good source of dietary fibre and protein, while being very low in fat and sodium. It is also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron and selenium. Wheat is also a good plant protein.
“Nuts and peanuts are protein-rich, and a tablespoon contains eight grammes of proteins. Peanuts and peanut butter are full of healthy fats, and may improve heart health. They are also rich in important nutrients such as fibre, protein, minerals, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants that boost your immunity,” she says.
Milk alternatives are not just for the lactose intolerant. They are great additions to any diet with soy milk having the highest measure of protein per cup followed by almond, hemp and rice milk.