Just like meat, many plant products are a good source of protein. But what plants offer the best protein source as an alternative to meat? And are some of these sources better than others?
The short answer is yes, certain plant foods contain significantly more protein than others.
Here is a list of some of the top plant products that are healthy sources of proteins and other vitamins. These characteristics are making them an increasingly attractive alternative to meat products for food producers.
These ingredients are becoming hot topics and commodities that category managers, procurement professionals and sourcing specialist need to watch.
Here is a list of the best protein source from plant products:
Mock meat made from wheat gluten which has a high protein content. Unlike many other soy-based products, Seitan can be made with a multitude of textures and flavours, making it comparable to multiple types of meat; this versatility makes it a popular plant-based protein choice.
2. Tofu, Edamame, Tempeh & Soybeans
Tofu, edamame and tempeh are all derived from soybeans and are a complete source of protein. Soybeans, in general, are considered a whole source of protein as well as a good source of several other essential nutrients. Edamame is produced from immature soybeans resulting in a distinctive sweet and slightly grassy taste. Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process like cheesemaking. Finally, tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans before pressing them into a patty.
They are all a good source of protein, and all are rich in iron and other vitamins including folate, vitamin K and fibre.
Lentils are rich in protein with around 18 grams of protein for every 240ml. They also contain respectable amounts of other nutrients which may help reduce the risk of certain diseases.
4. Chickpeas and Most Varieties of Beans
There a range of beans including kidney, black and pinto, all are protein-packed legumes with around 15 grams of protein per 240 ml. Chickpeas also contain similar levels of protein, and they also include a variety of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds.
5. Nutritional Yeast
It may sound unusual, but nutritional yeast is a popular plant-based ingredient. Used to give dishes a dairy-free cheese flavour as well as provide a source of protein with around 14 grams per 240ml. Along with protein, nutritional yeast is also high in fibre and other nutrients and vitamins, including B12.
6. Spelt and Teff
Spelt and teff are grains with a protein content of between 10-11 grams per 240 ml. They are also a source of other vitamins such as phosphorous and magnesium.
Hempseed contains 10 grams of a highly-digestible protein. Hemp seed comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, which belongs to the same family as marijuana. However, it does not contain the THC compound that produces the effects associated with marijuana.
8. Green Peas
Green peas are high in protein with around 9 grams per 240ml. They are also high in fibre and vitamins.
Spirulina is a high-protein food with 9 grams of protein along with other vitamins and minerals.
10. Amaranth and Quinoa
Both amaranth and quinoa are pseudocereals which are known to provide a complete source of protein with around 8-9 grams of protein.
Many other plants also provide a source of protein at levels below 8 grams per 240 ml. These include Ezekiel and similar types of bread made from sprouted grains, soy milk, oats and oatmeal, wild rice and chia seeds. Along with a wide range of nuts and protein-rich fruits and vegetables.