The benefits of eating a more plant-based diet are becoming more widely known to the general public. For athletes, opting for vegan protein alternatives (compared to meat, dairy, etc.) has been shown to help improve the rate of recovery, all while mitigating muscle soreness.
Beyond athletic performance, anybody of any age, sex, race, or activity level stands to gain from consuming a diet that is rich is vegan, plant-based foods. According to Harvard professor, Frank Hu, MD, PhD, a diet centralized to plant-based protein sources can be highly advantageous to better prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mortality.
Whether you’re interest in embracing a more plant-based diet head-on for weight loss and nutritional advantages, or simply want incorporate plant-based protein powders for post-workout recovery, the benefits of eating more vegan, plant-based foods are widespread.
Benefits of Plant-Based Protein
Nuts, seeds, and legumes are consider some of nature’s treasures when it comes to nutrient density. These foods are also powerhouses when it comes to offering rich sources of plant-based protein. Further, these 100% vegan protein sources are loaded with cholesterol-lowering fiber, disease-fighting phytonutrients, and are naturally low in commonly over-consumed sodium and cholesterol.
In fact, studies have shown that reducing the amount of animal protein in one’s diet, while emphasizing the consumption of plant-based protein sources, has been scientifically associated with lower risks of heart disease. Additionally, vegan diets rich in pant-based protein also contribute to lower blood pressure, minimized risk of cancer, and in some instance, weight loss.
According to Dawn Jackson Blatner’s reports from the publication The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life, it has been reported that individuals who lead healthy diets with low amounts of animal protein weigh up to 15 percent less than their more carnivorous counterparts. Not only that, but Blatner also discovered that individuals who eat more vegan diet rich with plant-based protein sources to have a dramatically lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and have been shown to live an average of 3.6 years longer.
Best Sources of Plant-based Protein
While there are countless sources of plant-based protein ranging from vegan protein powder supplements chock full of various ingredients to almost anything green in the plant kingdom, some are more accessible than others. Below we take a look at some of these best sources of plant-based protein that are often more available to most individuals.
Tree nuts, peanuts, and seeds are some of the only types of plant-based proteins that contain high level of fat. However, it’s important to note that these are healthy fats. Beyond quality fats and protein, nuts and seeds are a great source of fiber and select phytonutrients. Take for example walnuts which are the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids found in plant form. Also consider peanuts which offer the highest amount of plant-derived protein as well as almonds which provide the greatest amount of fiber and calcium.
Beans, which are one of the best sources of plant-based protein, are so nutritious that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has increased the recommendation of bean/legume consumption from one to three cups per week.
Unique to other types of vegan foods, beans are found in both the vegetable and protein groups. Not only are legumes highly nutrient dense, but they can help in meeting the recommended nutritional levels in individuals when it comes to fiber, calcium and even potassium. Beans have also been shown to be good for cardiovascular and heart health. A study back in 2005 reported that just a 1/2 cup serving of beans per day was associated with lower risk of heart attack by up to 38 percent.
Consuming More Plant-based Sources of Protein
While it may seem daunting to some individuals, it’s relatively easy to incorporate more plant-based sources of protein into your diet. Certain types of plant protein can make for simple substitutes when otherwise animal protein would be used.
One of the best strategies is to use legumes to replace animal protein in your meals. Beans, lentils, and tempeh, when prepared right, can be delicious and clean alternatives that provide sufficient levels of protein.
When it comes to snacking and adding more flavor and texture to meals, try using seeds and nuts. You can add them to oats, granola, cereal, trail mix, salads, baked dishes, desserts, yogurt, and so much more.
Be creative and have fun incorporating plant-based protein sources into your meal planning, and experience the difference first-hand in how your body feels with a more vegan diet.
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