5 plant-based proteins to look out for this monsoon to chase away common cold, flu, fever, viral infections

Updated on Aug 11, 2022 02:06 PM IST

This is the time of the year when our immune system is usually weakened by battling seasonal malaises and needs a special boost to keep us in good shape. Chase away monsoon maladies like common cold, flu, fever, viral infections or just an overall sense of lethargy with these 5 plant-based proteins

5 plant-based proteins to look out for this monsoon to chase away common cold, flu, fever, viral infections (Phil M)
5 plant-based proteins to look out for this monsoon to chase away common cold, flu, fever, viral infections (Phil M)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

Indian monsoons bring with them grey skies, the sound of raindrops drumming against windowpanes and long days that are spent wishing one was cuddled up in bed, all warm and comfortable but the monsoons also bring with them a multitude of seasonal maladies – be it the common cold and flu, fever, viral infections or just an overall sense of lethargy. This is the time of the year when our immune system is usually weakened by battling seasonal malaises and needs a special boost to keep us in good shape.

Made up of an army of cells and proteins working in cohesion, our immune system is a complex network that protects us from external invaders such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and other toxins. It is therefore critical that we take all the necessary measures to ensure that our immune system is functioning seamlessly at all times and the good news is that building a robust immune system requires simple changes in your daily diet where the one nutrient that works as the torch bearer for everything immunity is “protein”.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Khushboo Jain Tibrewala, nutrition expert and health strategist, revealed, “Protein, one of the three key macronutrients, is essential for the immune system. It is also important for healing wounds, building muscle mass and strengthening bone density. While there are a number of protein-rich products one can consume, plant-based sources should be preferred as they also provide an array of supportive nutrients such as folic acid, selenium, zinc, phytonutrients and more. They are also very rich in fibre and have the perfect protein to-carbohydrate ratio.”

For those wondering which plant-based proteins to add to their diet this monsoon, Khushboo Jain Tibrewala shared the top five picks of plant-based protein sources that one must include in their daily meals.

1. SOY and SOY PRODUCTS

This humble legume is full of surprises! Extremely nutrient dense, soybeans are the only known plant-based food to contain all nine essential amino acids, i.e. they contain complete protein. With 36% to 56% of its dry weight consisting of protein content, soybeans pack a mighty protein punch.

Additionally, soybeans are also an excellent source of folate, calcium, fibre, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. They also contain unique isoflavones that make them great for growing children, and menopausal women and have shown an anti-ageing impact. The best part about soybeans is their versatility – available in many forms, it is an inexpensive and easily accessible ingredient to stock in the kitchen. Be it dried beans, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, or even edamame, soy is one of the healthiest additions one can add to their daily diet.

2. SESAME SEEDS

India’s gift to the world, sesame seeds are tiny, oil-rich seeds that are rich in protein. Just a mere tablespoon of sesame seeds provides around 3 grams of protein, and while they have a low lysine content – an essential amino acid – combined with high-lysine plant proteins such as legumes like kidney beans and chickpeas, provide a high protein boost to one’s diet.

Consumption of hulled and soaked sesame seeds helps maximize protein availability. Reports suggest that eating sesame seeds regularly may help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, which act as risks for heart disease. Moreover, they are high in fibre, which is necessary to support digestive health. Sesame seeds are also good sources of calcium, magnesium, selenium, and iron, making them excellent for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. From sprinkling it on top of salads and stir-fries to munching on sesame brittle to satiate one’s sweet tooth, it is very easy to add sesame to one’s diet.

3. SPROUTED MOTH BEANS

A staple native legume that is utilized in various Indian cuisines, moth beans or matki is a very high source of protein. In raw form, this tiny legume contains approximately 343 calories of which 23 grams is protein. It is common knowledge that sprouted legumes have better nutrient availability and absorption.

Sprouting the moth beans overnight helps improve the digestibility of the beans’ protein content. It also improves the beans’ fibre, Vitamin C, B Vitamins and calcium absorption by the body. These beans can be used in various ways – parboiled, fully boiled or even as matki flour. To start adding matki in one’s daily meals, one can also add these protein-rich legumes to classics such as matki amti or matki usal for a combination of taste and health.

4. MANGODI OR MOONG DAL WADI

As the name suggests, this popular ingredient is made of moong dal. These are almost like dumplings of moong dal paste, which is then sundried. What makes mangodi a pop of good health is the rich protein content of moong dal. A superfood, moong dal contains high-quality protein along with other essential nutrients.

1 cup of cooked moong dal can provide approximately 10-12 grams of protein, in addition to B Vitamins and magnesium. Moreover, it is incredibly light and easy to digest, a characteristic that is further enhanced by the way moong dal wadi is prepared. Soaked and spiced moong dal is ground into a batter, which is then piped out into small sections and dried in the natural heat of the sun for 4-5 days. This method of preparation improves protein content digestibility by approximately 30%, allowing one to consume more protein from the same quantity of food. Not only is mangodi super healthy and tasty but they are also super easy to prepare and store.

5. RED AMARANTH LEAVES (OR LAL MATH / LAL CHAULAI)

Possibly the only leafy vegetable that makes it to this list, red amaranth leaves or as they are more commonly known, lal math is known for much more than their vivid red colour. These leaves are bursting with protein and offer a number of health benefits. One cup of cooked red amaranth leaves provides 8-10 grams of protein.

In addition, these leaves are also high in iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium and Vitamin K content, along with containing anthocyanins and dietary fibre. Rich in antioxidants including gallic and vanillic acids, amaranth is said to reduce the risk of heart disease, inflammation and cholesterol. From preparing an easy and tasty amaranth bhaji to whipping up amaranth parathas, there are numerous delicious ways to add some colour, and good health as a staple in one’s diet.

What makes each of the above foods such great sources of high-quality protein, apart from their nutrient content, is that they are easily available all across India. With much to offer, especially in terms of strengthening one’s immunity and contributing to overall good health, these humble ingredients deserve much recognition – on our plates and as rich sources of protein.

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