It’s a well-known fact that protein is good for you, but what about the type of protein? The meat industry has always been a large part of American culture. But with more and more research coming out on how harmful it can be to your health, people are starting to look elsewhere for their protein. Plant-based proteins are not only healthier than animal proteins, but they’re also quite tasty. Here are seven reasons why plant-based protein is better than animal-based.
1) More Nutrients and Fiber – There’s a reason why the American Heart Association recommends you get two and a half servings of veggies while emphasizing nuts, seeds, beans, peas, and lentils as essential protein sources. These foods are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber necessary for good health. Animal proteins, on the other hand, are not as nutrient-rich. The only thing to be aware of is that few plant sources will be a “complete protein,” meaning they don’t have all the essential amino acids. This can be easily remedied by eating various plant-based proteins throughout the day.
2) Variety – The world of plant proteins is vast and varied. There are so many different kinds of beans, nuts, seeds, and grains to choose from that you’ll never get bored. Protein is also found in quinoa, gluten-free grain with a nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture. In addition, there’s protein just about everywhere you look in the plant world, including Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, and potatoes. With this list of ingredients, you’ll be challenged to get creative and make delicious dishes.
3) Reduced Saturated Fat – Animal proteins are high in saturated fat, leading to heart disease and other health problems. For example, a meta-analysis of studies done between 1952 and 2012 found that a high intake of meat and processed meat was associated with an increased risk of disease, possibly leading to early death due to the higher amounts of saturated fat. On the other hand, plant proteins are low in saturated fat and can actually help reduce the risk of heart disease.
4) Not Carcinogenic – One of the biggest dangers of eating meat, mainly processed meat, is that it can possibly lead to cancer, according to some authorities in the field of medicine. The World Health Organization has released a statement saying that processed meat is carcinogenic. However, when compared to plant-protein sources that also contain cancer-fighting nutrients, it’s clear that plant proteins are the safer option.
5) Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease – Numerous studies have shown that a diet high in animal protein can increase cardiovascular disease risk. This includes meat and dairy — something to keep in mind if you are a fan of whey protein, which is a dairy-based protein powder. It might be time to make the switch to a plant-based protein powder, which will ensure that you’re not putting your heart at risk.
6) Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes – A diet high in animal protein can also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. One study showed that animal protein consumption was a significant risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, in the same study, they found that plant protein was a protective factor for some, meaning that it lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
7) Less Chance of Weight Gain – Meat is high in calories and quickly leads to weight gain. Also, animal protein is significantly connected to fast food, which is even more likely to make you gain weight. On the other hand, plant proteins are generally lower in calories and don’t have the same association with fast food. In fact, plant-based diets are often associated with weight loss.
Excellent Sources of Plant Protein
If you’re not used to looking at plants as a source of protein and your plate is always a third (or more) of meat, this whole process of switching over can be a little daunting. But fear not — as we mentioned earlier, there are plenty of sources of plant protein out there that you can start including in your diet today.
- Nuts – Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews are all excellent plant-based protein sources. They’re also a good source of healthy fats, fiber, and minerals like magnesium and potassium.
- Seeds – Chia seeds, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are some of the best sources of plant-based protein around. They’re also a good source of minerals, healthy fats, and fiber.
- Legumes – Beans, lentils, and peas are all great sources of plant-based protein, as well as fiber and minerals.
- Grains – Quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat are high in protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients.
- Plant-Based Protein Powders – If you’re looking for an easy and convenient way to get your plant-based protein fix, a plant-based protein powder might be the way to go. There are many different types of plant-based protein powders on the market, so finding one that suits your needs shouldn’t be too difficult.
Occasionally, when people start eating less animal protein and more plant protein, their gut goes through a bit of a transformation. Often, this is because it’s healing and getting used to not having all the animal products. If you’re feeling bloated, gassy or like you have candida, these could all be signs that your gut is transitioning. Be patient and give it some time. It will eventually even out. And in the meantime, reach for some digestive enzyme supplements to help you along. As well, take a nourish supplement to help with the gut healing process.
Making the Transition to Plant-Based Protein
If you’re interested in making the switch to plant-based protein, but you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips to help you out.
- Work into it, slow and steady – Start by gradually replacing some animal-based proteins in your diet with plant-based proteins. This could mean swapping out one meal per day for a plant-based meal or adding a plant-based protein powder to your smoothie.
- Try some new plant-based recipes – There are plenty of amazing plant-based recipes out there, and you’re sure to find one that you love.
- Explore different plant-based proteins – As we mentioned earlier, many different types of plant-based proteins are available. Try out a few different kinds to see which ones you like best.
- Talk to your doctor or nutritionist – If you’re looking for more guidance on making the switch to plant-based protein, talking to a professional is always a good idea. They can help you create a plan that’s right for you and make sure that you’re getting all the nutrients that you need.
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