Ingredients containing the highest levels of protein
Proteins are one of the fundamental nutrients for the human organism. They do most of the cellular work, since they build and regenerate our muscle tissues and organs, take part in the digestive process, protect the circulatory system and keep our metabolism active. They are the basic food of the cells and provide the materials that constitute the muscles, bones, glands, internal organs, the nervous system, blood and other liquids of the body, as well as the skin, hair and nails, reason why integrating them abundantly in our diet is indispensable.
It is estimated that we need between 65 and 75 grams of protein per day to ensure our body’s proper performance, although the amount of protein that each person needs varies depending on their physical condition and lifestyle. But where can we get protein from?
The best sources of protein
Traditionally, it was thought that the only sources of protein were animal products (meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products). However, the percentage of protein in these products is not always very high: meats barely reach 20% on average, while fish are at 17% on average. Nonetheless, the vegetable realm offers us quality and healthy, protein-rich foods.
Vegetable proteins stand out for their high biological value. They have a high proportion of essential amino acids (those that our body cannot produce and, therefore, must be obtained through food), are easy to assimilate, have low levels of saturated fats and cholesterol and, in addition, help prevent cardiovascular diseases. They are found in foods such as legumes, cereals, nuts and seeds.
Chickpeas, lentils, beans, peas... Legumes are one of the most appreciated protein sources by our ancestors. Rich in carbohydrates and fiber, they are energetic, satiating foods of high nutritional value.
Among all of them, soybeans, the vegetable food with the highest protein content with all the essential amino acids, and lupins stand out, both with 36% protein. They are followed by peanuts (belonging to the same family as peas) with 26% protein, lentils (25%), beans (23%) and chickpeas (22%).
Special mention should be made of soy by-products, increasingly popular foods that are gaining ground in diets, not only for their texture and flavour, but also for their interesting nutritional value.
Textured soybeans, for example, contain 53% protein, while tofu has up to 15 grams of protein per 100 grams of product. On the other hand, tempeh, a product resulting from the fermentation of soybeans, peas or chickpeas, has a protein content of 19%.
Among cereals, seitan (a wheat by-product) stands out, with 24% protein, quinoa (15) and oats (17%). Superfoods such as quinoa and amaranth (15%) are especially noteworthy for having complete and gluten-free protein. In addition, quinoa has all the essential amino acids that our body needs and in the quantities that it requires, in addition to providing good levels of minerals (especially calcium).
Buckwheat is another pseudocereal with a high protein content (13%), as well as bulgur (13%), wheat (12%) or spelt (11.5%).
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds also excel for their richness and nutritional virtues and are another of the jewels of the Mediterranean diet, providing calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids and proteins.
Pumpkin seeds top the list of this food group with 30% protein, followed by sunflower seeds (27%), hempseeds (25%), flaxseeds (24%), pine nuts (24%) and Chia seeds (23%), which also contain all the essential amino acids. Almonds (21%), pistachios (20%), cashews (17%), walnuts (15%) and hazelnuts (14%) also stand out for their nutritional values.
Do not miss them on your menu!
Vegetable proteins carry out vital functions for the correct development of the organism, so including them into a varied diet in which fresh and organically produced vegetables predominate is recommended to keep us active and healthy. Choose between all the veggie proteins or combine them. Due to their great versatility in the kitchen, you can prepare endless recipes to suit all tastes.