Contrary to popular perception, vegetarians do get enough protein

Here are some FAQs about the most vital component of nutrition

brunch Updated: Nov 12, 2016 19:28 IST
Nuts and seeds are healthy sources of protein for vegetarians(Shutterstock)

By now, anyone who’s even remotely interested in nutrition is aware that protein is an important part of what we eat. Still, there is quite a lot of confusion on the topic, so to make things easier, here are some FAQs with answers.

Q. Do vegetarians get enough protein?

A. The answer to this is an unequivocal yes. It was once erroneously assumed that it would be best to get all the protein we needed from a single food source with all the amino acids, such as eggs. However, this failed to take into account the fact that humans have always eaten a varied diet that accumulates the amount of protein we need.

Health tip: Vegetarian protein sources include nuts, seeds, sprouts, peanuts, soya milk, tofu, paneer and cheese.

Q. Which are safe proteins for expecting mothers?

A. Expecting mothers need extra protein to help the foetus develop. However, some foods carry health risks. Seafood may contain toxic mercury. Protein powders can be adulterated. And concentrated soya protein powders contain phytoestrogens, which are bad for expecting mothers.

Health tip: Eat paneer, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, steamed mung sprouts and quinoa.

Q. Which are the best proteins for athletic teenagers?

A. Teenagers who are into sports need a fine balance of complex carbohydrates (fuel for exercise), good quality complete proteins (which aid muscle recovery and development), and good quality fats (which support nerves and skin regeneration). So they must follow a proper diet plan.

Best vegetarian additions to the diet plan: Amaranth cereal with milk, mixed grain dalia topped with lightly roasted chia seeds, muesli with low-fat milk, almonds and walnuts, tofu and paneer snacks, a salad of chopped apples, low-fat chopped cheese and pineapple, boiled white channa chaat, roasted and puffed makhanas, boiled green peas chaat.

Best non-vegetarian additions to the diet plan: Eggs, freshwater fish and chicken. Red meats can be included, but nothing should be fried or eaten with a heavy curry. Vegetables are a must to ensure that the protein in the non-veg items is properly released.

From HT Brunch, November 13, 2016

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First Published: Nov 12, 2016 18:17 IST