Before considering the benefits of plant-based protein, it’s important to understand what protein is and its importance throughout the body.
Proteins are amino acids. There are twenty-two known amino acids, organic compounds that combine to form proteins. Nine are called essential amino acids—the body can’t produce them. A complete protein source contains all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids and proteins are sometimes referred to as the building blocks of life. These building blocks support everything from organs and muscles to bones, skin, and hair.
People looking to lower their body weight, lower their cholesterol, or lower their blood pressure might look to a diet that is more plant- than animal based. Studies have shown that a plant-based diet may lower the risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
One key difference between plant-based protein and animal-based protein is that some plant proteins are incomplete on their own—they are missing at least one essential amino acid. Other plant-based proteins such as quinoa and buckwheat, however, are complete, so it’s helpful to research or ask about combinations of plant-based proteins that will incorporate the essential amino acids.
Protein-rich plant-based foods include beans, grains, nuts, avocados, seeds, and lentils. Inspired Organics offers a range of organic, plant-based protein foods including chia, sunflower, golden flax, and pumpkin seeds; white and tri-color quinoa; raw almonds, cashews, and walnuts; and red and green lentils; and whole-grain cereals. Mix them up with power veggies such as organic spinach, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, or collard greens. A certain spinach-eating cartoon character was on to something when he knew to reach for his can of leafy greens for strength. Today he’d opt for fresh organic spinach and probably know the local farmer.
Another key difference that distinguishes plant-based protein from animal-based protein is the fact that only plant-based foods provide dietary fiber. Fiber is the roughage found in plant-based food that promotes digestive health. People might joke about beans, but they are at the top of the pyramid in the plant world as a source of fiber, protein, lysine, vitamins, and minerals.