Whenever protein is mentioned in our meal, the first thing that comes to our mind is meat. It’s funny how there are other sources of protein that we hardly pay attention too.
Although meats are complete proteins, they are one of the most expensive and healthy sources of protein.
As we age, protein is important for keeping up muscle mass to stay active, avoid injury, and support a healthy immune system.
Choosing non-meat proteins in later years can be a good idea for more than just health or ethical reasons. Many non-meat protein sources are lower in cost, and if you’re on a fixed income, then watching the food budget can be helpful.
Dental issues like missing teeth and dentures can come into play, too — making a piece of steak or hamburger hard to chew. But there are plenty of ways to get protein besides meat. You just have to know what you’re looking for.
Here are 7 sources of protein that aren’t meat:
Not only are eggs an incredible source of protein, but they also contain several B vitamins responsible for energy, including B6, B12, thiamin, riboflavin, and folate. A single hard-boiled egg with the yolk will provide you with 6 grams (g) of protein alone. The all-natural, high-quality protein found in eggs is often used as the benchmark for evaluating the protein quality of other foods. Although it is true that eggs are high in cholesterol, they are only high in HDL “good” cholesterol and do not have an unhealthy impact on our cholesterol levels.
The best part about adding nuts to your diet as a healthy protein source is the amount of variety you have. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, and cashews are packed with all three macronutrients on top of essential micronutrients such as vitamin E, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. The protein count for each type of nut includes 5.9g for 22 unsalted almonds, 5.9g for 49 unsalted pistachios, 4.3g for 14 walnut halves, 6.7g for 35 unsalted peanuts, and 4.3g for 18 cashew halves.
Veggies like spinach and kale are an easy way to get a whole host of nutrients, including protein. Add a layer to sandwiches, or fill a bowl and top with your favorite veggies for a healthy salad.
Greens can give you your smoothies, too: Along with fruits, milk, yogurt, or even a dab of peanut butter, you can also throw some spinach into your blender. Spinach provides you 5 grams of protein per cup. This isn’t huge, however, it’s great because you’re getting other things like vitamin A and calcium and iron.
4. Chia Seeds
Something as small as a chia seed may seem like an odd source of protein, but this tiny superfood is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and, of course, protein. An ounce of chia seeds contains 4g of high-quality protein, 12g of carbohydrates (11 of which are fiber), and 9g of fat (5 of which are Omega-3s).
Pick a bean, any bean, and you’ve got protein. Beans are a fabulous source of protein.
Vegetarians rely on beans as a major source of protein for their meatless diet, and for good reason. Similar to nuts, protein can be found in a variety of different bean choices, including soybeans (28.5g of protein per cup), kidney beans (15g of protein per cup), black beans (15g of protein per cup), pinto beans (15.5g of protein per cup), and lima beans (14.5g of protein per cup). The variety of different bean options can also be added to a variety of different meal options, including omelets, salads, chili, and other popular dishes.
In addition to beans, the superfood quinoa is a recommended protein source for people on a vegetarian diet. It is a complete protein that has all nine essential amino acids. A single cup of quinoa is packed with around 24g of protein. If you’re not familiar with it, think of it like a grain or pasta.
Look for low-fat options for your protein fix. Cottage cheese, yogurt, and low-fat cow’s milk are all pumped with it. Pour milk on your cereal for breakfast, or have cheese with your snack crackers. You can even slide in some dairy protein for a delicious dessert.
If you’ve always thought that the only way you can up your protein intake is by eating more steak and chicken (meat), now you’ve learnt that there are more sources of protein in your diet other than meat. Incorporate any of these foods into your diet and enjoy from its amazing list of benefits.