People across the world and in India, are increasingly converting to vegetarianism or vegan diets, cutting their overall consumption of animal-based products.
Sufficient protein intake is a common concern amongst people who follow vegetarian/vegan diets, especially since several meat options and dairy products are high in protein. Appropriately planned vegetarian (including vegan) diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity. Although the Indian government has been regularly sharing information about the fact that COVID-19 doesn’t spread through eating non-vegetarian food like eggs, chicken, mutton and seafood, people are still wary about it, and opting for vegetarian diets.1
Vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and athletes as long as they are well balanced with appropriate intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, dairy, nuts, and seeds.2Besides that, plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage.3
If you too are contemplating to switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, here are 3plantfoods that provide proteins which you could include to ensure your body’s daily requirement for protein is fulfilled:
Almonds are a rich source of protein, a nutrient that is not only energy-yielding but also known to contribute to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. Besides that, a handful of almonds may have satiating properties that promote feelings of fullness, which may keep hunger at bay between meals. According to Indian Food Composition Tables 2017, in 100 gm of almonds, you get 18.4 grams (30% of RDA) of protein. Research shows that almonds, which are a source of protein and high in dietary fibre, can help in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, may improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes, and help lower the blood sugar impact of carbohydrate foods, which affects fasting insulin levels.4
Added to all these health benefits, almonds make for a delicious and healthy snack as well. They are light and quick to flavour with all Indian spices making them a great ingredient to keep handy in your pantry for hunger breaks! So be sure to add a handful of almonds to your diet every day, to contribute to your body’s protein requirements.
Lentil based dishes have been a part of the Indian diet since ancient times and lentils have been a staple food since the Indus Valley Civilization. Currently, the most common types are green (moong dal) and red (tur dal) which are regularly consumed by people across different parts of India – in different forms, and using different preparation methods. Lentils are known to be a good source of proteins, providing many of the essential amino acids to the human body. 100 gm of lentils, provide you with approximately 23 g of protein. However, to get good quality protein, lentils should be combined with cereal grains in a meal. Lentils can help to maintain the gut microbiota, and with their antioxidant potential help to reduce the risk of various diseases.
Millets (pearl millet and little millet)
Pearl millet(bajra) and little millet (kutki) are also high in protein andhave several health benefits. Milletsaid in weight loss, and help in easier digestion6.100g ofpearl millet, gives 10.9 g of protein and 100 g of little millet provides 10.1 g of protein. There are many types of millets: Foxtail millet (kangni/kakum), Finger millet(ragi), kodo millet (kodon), sorghum (jowar), and so on. Each type of millet has its own benefit and millet dishes are very easy to prepare at home. They can be used in the place of rice sometimes and can even be cooked as porridge / upma / dosa / idli / kichdi and many other varieties.