The Truth Behind Plant-based Proteins

No matter what kind of dietary lifestyle you ascribe to, whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, or omnivore, there is one thing I know for sure as an integrative registered dietitian: we all need to be eating more plants. The science is clear, a diet that is rich in plant-based foods (note it doesn’t have to be 100% plant-based) has been shown to prevent, and even reverse many chronic illnesses that plague people around the world today. [1]

The Power Of A Plant Based Diet and Plant Based Protein

When you are filling your diet with plant-based foods, you are loading your diet up with fiber, healthy fats, high quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients work together in the body to keep you healthy by fighting inflammation, and preventing disease progression. [2] However, even with all of these known benefits if there is one question that always gets asked when it comes to a plant-based diet it’s — but how do you get your protein?

Contrary to what most people may believe, it actually can be very simple to make sure you are consuming enough protein on a plant-based diet. Protein can be found in plant-based foods such as legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. All of these foods are considered to be nutrient dense and contain a variety of heart healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients that have continually been linked to positive health outcomes.

Good For The Environment

Additionally, when you choose to consume more plant-based protein, you also are choosing to do something good for the environment as a whole. With studies consistently showing that plant-based diets are better for the environment, simply by choosing more plant-based protein sources you can help reduce the burden that excessive factory farmed meat consumption has on greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. [3]

What To Look For In A Plant-Based Protein Source

What’s most important when it comes to plant-based protein is how you choose to pair them. Most plant based proteins are considered to be incomplete, which means that they are missing some of the essential amino acids our body needs to create protein. There are a few outliers, like soy and quinoa, but for the most part, plant-based proteins need to be paired with one another to create a complete amino acid profile. This just means that you have to be a little more thoughtful in your meal pairings and know what to look for.

Plant-Based Pairing:
Believe it or not, but humans naturally know how to pair plant based foods together to create complete protein sources, and they have been doing it for centuries. Combinations such as “rice and beans”, “hummus with pita”, and “peanut butter with whole grain bread” all create perfect pairings for complete plant-based, protein rich meals and snacks.

Choose A High Quality, Complete Plant Based Protein Supplement: 
Sometimes you just don’t want to think about pairing your foods together, and I totally get it. This is when complete plant based protein supplements can be excellent additions to an otherwise whole foods based diet, to ensure you are meeting your protein needs. Personally, I love adding ALOHA’s Vanilla Plant-Based Protein in with my daily green smoothie every morning. By combining organic hemp seed, pumpkin seed, and pea protein, ALOHA’s Plant-Based Protein contains all essential amino acids and is a perfect addition to a healthy diet.

For all these reasons and more, there are so many delicious and healthy ways to include plant-based proteins into your diet, and in doing so you can be sure that you are doing something wonderful for both your body and this beautiful world we live in.

[1] Martinez-Gonzalez, M. A., & Bes-Rastrollo, M. (2014). Dietary patterns, Mediterranean diet, and cardiovascular disease. Current opinion in lipidology, 25(1), 20-26. [2] Orlich MJ, Singh PN, Sabaté J, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Fan J, Knutsen S, Beeson WL, Fraser GE. Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Mortality in Adventist Health Study 2. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(13):1230-1238. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6473 Tilman, D., & Clark, M. (2014). Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health. Nature, 515(7528), 518-522.