Proteins are the macronutrients that play many vital roles in the body. Proteins are made up of long chains of 20+ amino acids known as the cell’s building blocks. Our body can synthesize most of the amino acids except nine. These nine amino acids are known as essential amino acids, and we need to consume these through our diet.
Proteins can be further categorized into complete and incomplete proteins-
- Proteins that contain all essential amino acids are complete proteins. Examples include quinoa, buckwheat, soy, and animal products. People who do not eat meat can choose from a variety of high protein vegetarian foods.
- Incomplete proteins are proteins that do not contain all the essential amino acids. Many plant-based sources are considered incomplete proteins. Examples include beans, nuts, and whole grains. Incomplete protein sources can be added to the meals that consist of all the essential amino acids. Each protein’s structure and function are determined by the specific order of amino acids in the chain.
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Why Do We Need Protein?
Every cell of our body is dependent on protein to grow and survive, and therefore, our body needs protein in larger amounts. For that, we need to consume protein-rich food items. A Protein-rich diet helps recover the daily wear and tear of muscles, promotes muscle strength, and aids in weight loss and metabolic health.
Have a look at few reasons to eat more protein:
- A high-protein diet improves the function of weight-regulating hormones helping you lose weight.
- Protein is required to increase muscle mass while preventing muscle loss during weight loss.
- A Protein-rich diet makes your bones healthy, lowering the risk of osteoporosis and fractures as you age.
- Protein-rich food boosts metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day.
- A higher protein intake helps you lower your blood pressure and reduces the risk factors for heart diseases.
- Eating more protein increases the recovery speed after an injury.
As most animal foods possess an array of amino acids compared to a vegetarian variety of food, lack of sufficient protein intake is a major concern for vegetarians or vegans. This concern is genuine, looking into the fact that how essential proteins are for our bodies.
Any food that provides two or more grams of protein per serving is considered protein-rich food. Putting a full stop to your worries, in this article, we will be discussing the top high protein-rich food for vegetarians in India. Incorporate them into your diet and increase your protein intake easily.
Protein-Rich Vegetarian Foods And Vegetables List:
Buckwheat is an excellent plant-based source of protein which is an excellent option for vegetarians. Those who want to follow a high-protein vegan diet must consider incorporating buckwheat in their daily meals. Buckwheat is a complete protein containing all the nine essential amino acids. Because of the complete amino acid profile, the protein in buckwheat is of very high quality. Also, a good amount of fiber and resistant starch in buckwheat may help improve colon health. Not only for vegans or vegetarians, buckwheat is a great choice to get protein for people with gluten-intolerant as it is gluten-free. Buckwheat dosa, buckwheat khichdi are great dishes to try out.
Lentils, also called Daal is a staple dish Indian meal. Each cup of boiled lentils contains about 17.86 grams of protein and 15 gms of fiber, which is pretty high. They are one of the best, readily available, and inexpensive protein-rich Indian veg food with virtually no saturated fat. Also, the high fiber content in lentils helps maintain a healthy gut. Consumption of lentils regularly may also reduce the risk of developing heart disease or cancer. Having a cup full of lentils every day is a great way to have your daily dose of protein. Have it with some rice or roti for a complete meal.
A close second to lentils are legumes that include varieties of beans such as kidney beans or rajma, black beans, chickpeas, etc. A ½ cup of rajma contains about 7.5 gms of protein, and the same serving of chickpeas contains about 7.3 grams of protein. Not only proteins but legumes also are rich in other minerals that help you remain healthy and fit. Excellent source of fiber, legumes are low in fat which is an added advantage. Make delicious curries or enjoy them as a topping in salads, legumes are certainly great scorers in the protein-rich veg food list. And yes, what could be better than a simple rajma chawal or chhole chawal to increase your protein intake.
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4. Soy Milk
Soy Milk is becoming quite popular in India off lately, and the reasons are pretty obvious. Soy is a complete protein and contains all the nine essential amino acids your body needs. Soy foods including soy milk are a rich protein source and are an excellent choice for people who want to have a high-protein vegan diet. Soy milk contains around 7 gms of protein per cup and is a perfect alternative for lactose intolerant individuals and cannot have cow milk. Besides being one of the high-protein-rich vegetarian foods, soy milk is also a good source of calcium Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D(fortified). You can have plain or flavored soya milk or add it to your tea, whatever suits you the best.
You all must have heard about all the good things about nuts, and that’s absolutely true. Nuts are the superfoods that are a great source of protein. If you consider following a high-protein vegetarian diet, make sure you add nuts to your protein-rich food list. 28 grams of nuts contain around 5-7 grams of protein, depending upon the variety of nuts. Not only do nuts contain protein but are also a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin E, healthy fats, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and certain B complex vitamins. The amount of protein present in different nuts varies, so it’s always better to get a mixed bag. Just sprinkle with some salt or chaat masala and have a handful of them with tea or anytime you want to munch on something.
6. Green Peas
Green peas are one of the most popular vegetables in Indian Kitchens. The high-protein content of these tiny green seeds makes them unique from other vegetables. A ½ cup(170gms) of green peas contains 4 grams of fairly high protein. This high-protein vegetable is loaded with almost every mineral and vitamin necessary for your body and contains a significant fiber amount. One of the most impressive things about green peas is that they are relatively low in calories. Peas paratha, Matar-paneer, or simple Aloo- matar with chapati are some of the delicious Indian recipes to include peas in your diet.
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Oats are a superfood without any doubt and one of the easiest ways to up your daily protein intake. A ½ a cup of dry oats (120ml) can provide you up to 6 grams of protein. Not only are oats a great source of protein, but they also are a powerhouse of soluble fibers. Oats are well known to lower cholesterol levels and risk of heart diseases. Regular oats are the best to have oats, and other varieties of oats may contain a high amount of salt or sugar. You can have oats pancakes or simple porridge topped with your favorite nuts, seeds, and fruits. There is no better way to start your day than to have oats as breakfast in whichever way you like.
8. Cottage Cheese/Paneer
Paneer needs no introduction in India. It is a food that is liked by the majority of Indians, especially vegetarians. One of the best vegetarian protein sources, Paneer is rich in casein, a slow-digesting dairy protein that increases satiety and helps you burn more fat. Low in fats and carbs, paneer provides you with all the protein and calcium needed to build strong bones and muscles. Per 100 gms of paneer gives you about 23 grams of protein, making it a great protein-rich Indian veg food. There are uncountable Indian dishes to make from paneer, or you can just saute it a bit, sprinkle some salt and eat it as a snack.
9. Protein-rich Vegetables
Most vegetables are generally high in vitamins and minerals but contain small amounts of protein. However, many vegetables contain a good amount of protein as compared to the others. Some of the high-protein vegetables are cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes. Per cooked cup of these vegetables may contain about 4-5 grams of protein. So if you are fond of eating vegetables and simultaneously want to increase your protein intake, consider incorporating these high-protein vegetables into your daily diet.
As mentioned above, a protein-rich diet is essential for your body’s growth and development, but consuming a high-protein diet for a long time may increase the risk of specific health problems. So, it is always better to consult a nutritionist or a dietician before you start consuming a high- protein diet or supplements. Also, if you are suffering from a health condition, always consult your doctor before making any dietary changes.