Where Is Your Protein Coming From?

Yum- pumpkin and pumpkin seeds. If you’re like me, pumpkin is one of your favorite all time foods. I bake it in November and freeze it for my summer vegan ice cream party. The last time you steamed up some squash or pumpkin, did you roast the seeds?  One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 9.35 grams of protein! That’s over two grams more than the same quantity of ground beef. Their high protein content and level of nutrients makes them a wonderful addition to any salad or snack. Pumpkin seeds are also great for digestion and can actually help remove parasites.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds:

  • Tryptophan: Helps fight depression (converted into serotonin and niacin).
  • Glutamate (needed to create GABA): Anti-stress neorochemical, helps relieve anxiety and other related conditions.
  • Zinc: Boosts immune function and fights osteoporosis.
  • Phytosterols: Reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and up HDL (the good kind); may also be effective in the prevention of cancer.

Pumpkin seeds are also full of manganese, phosphorous, copper, vitamin K, vitamin E, B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), folates, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium and more!

Grilled asparagus with a twist of lemon, olive oil and celtic sea salt drizzle is enough to make my mouth water. Eight spears of this delectable veggie has 3.08 grams of protein..

Health Benefits of Asparagus:

  • Vitamin K: Asparagus is the number one plant-based source for Vitamin K, which is indicated in preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
  • Vitamin A and Folate: Anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, and indicated in the prevention of birth defects.
  • Diuretic: Reduce water retention.

Asparagus is also a good source of potassium, glutathione, vitamin C, antioxidants (glumatic acid, glycine and cysteine) and more.

I lightly steam these beauties and put them gently into my Vita Mix along with an organic green apple, some spices and hot water for a delicious soup.

More people need to know about the health benefits of cauliflower and all its cruciferous plant family members. These help fight belly fat. One cup cooked = 2.28 grams of protein and a truckload of nutrients to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer!

Health Benefits of Cauliflower:

  • Carotenoids (beta-carotene and Phytonutrients): Including kaempferol, ferulic acid, cinnamic acid and caffeic acid. These nutrients help protect your body against free radical damage.
  • Sulforaphane: Strong indications as a cancer fighting agent.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Reduce inflammation.

Cauliflower is also a good source of vitamin C, manganese, glucosinolates (glucoraphin), vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine) and B9 (folic acid), phosphorus and potassium, indole-3-carbinol (strong cancer fighting indications) and more.

Cauliflower makes the best mashed potatoes without the potatoes!

Oats have gotten a bad rap as to whether they contain gluten or are gluten free. Buy organic gluten free oat groats and you will never go wrong. One cooked cup has a whopping 6.08 grams of protein along with being a great source of fiber and helpful for stabilizing your blood sugar levels. I enjoy mine in the morning with a bit of banana, coconut milk, raw walnuts and cinnamon mixed in.

Health Benefits of Oatmeal:

  • Selenium (antioxidant combined with vitamin E): Boosts immunity and mood, as well as having indications as a cancer-fighting agent.
  • Weight loss: Keeps blood sugar levels even. The high level of fiber keeps you full longer.
  • Magnesium: Helps with energy production, maintaining strong bones and possible relief of PMS.
  • Phosphorus: Assists with bone health, boosts energy and is important for healthy digestion.

Oatmeal is also a good source of tryptophan, Iron, calcium, B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin; vitamin E, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and more.

You may have seen this little bean hiding in your stir-fry? Paul Pitchford writes about the power of mung beans in his book “Healing with Whole Foods.  “They are thought to help with weight loss because of their ability to reduce swelling and can act as a diuretic. Mung beans can be used for food poisoning, diarrhea, painful urination, lead and pesticide poisoning, boils, heat stroke, conjunctivitis and edema. Mung beans can also benefit reducing high blood pressure, acidosis and ulcers.”

 Most beans are a great source of protein and water soluble fiber. With one cup containing 3.16 grams of protein, it is low in calories, but high in content.

Health Benefits of Mung Bean Sprouts:

  • Lecithin: Lowers blood cholesterol levels, reduces liver fat.
  • Zinc: Along with the protein and other vitamins in mung beans, Zinc can help strengthen your nails.
  • Phytoestrogens: Contain many anti-aging components for the skin. These phytoestrogens act on estrogen-receptors found in the skin, stimulating the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin, which are all essential components of the skin’s structure.

Mung bean sprouts are also a good source of vitamin A, many B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and more!

This is a wonderful snack to have around at all times, both for its protein, good fat content plus nutrient density. Raw Almonds (not roasted) are at the top of the nut chain when it comes to nutrient density, which means they will keep you full longer. With one ounce (approximately 24 nuts) containing 6.03 grams of protein they are a wonderful addition to any snack or meal.

Health Benefits of Almonds:

  • Phenylalanine: Aids in the development of cognitive function.
  • Nutrient Rich: Keeps you full longer which can aid in weight loss.
  • Vitamin E/Magnesium: Important for heart and muscle health.

Almonds are also a good source of calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, niacin, managese, riboflavin, folic acid and more.

We all know spinach is a special kind of green. I use it for my smoothies, salads and chick pea and spinach casserole. From Popeye to the posh salads you’ll find in fine dining restaurants, spinach has gotten some good press and with due reason. One cup cooked = 5.35 grams of protein. It is also filled with flavonoids (a phytonutrient with anti-cancer properties). Spinach is good for your skin, your eyes, your brain and your bones!

Health Benefits of Spinach:

Neoxanthin and violaxanthin: Anti-inflammatory epoxyxanthophylls.

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin: Protect the eyes against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Vitamin K: Ensures a healthy nervous system and brain function, healthy bones (1000% of the RDA of vitamin K in each full cup of spinach!)
  • Vitamin A: Strengthens immunity and promotes healthy skin.

Spinach is also a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants, flavonoids, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium and more.

Broccoli has many of the same amazing compounds as cauliflower, which is logical due to the fact that they are both in the cruciferous plant family.  I enjoy their impressive nutritional profile AND the fact that you can eat it on the go. My dog even likes it.  One cup of chopped broccoli = 5.7 grams of protein.

Health Benefits of Broccoli:

  • Glucoraphanin (which the body processes into sulforaphane): Helps the skin to detoxify and repair itself, along with ridding the body of H. pylori which increases the risk of gastric cancer.
  • Beta-carotene, zinc and selenium: All work to strengthen the immune system.
  • Indole-3-carbinol: A powerful antioxidant and anti-carcinogen, which may hinder the growth of breast, cervical and prostate cancer along with boosting liver function.

Broccoli is also a good source of folic acid, vitamin C, calcium (more calcium in fact then most dairy products), lutein and zeaxanthin, B6, folates and more.

All of the plants on my list that have preceded this one fall short in comparison to quinoa’s potential. On its own it is a perfect protein and the king of all grains. It has the highest percentage of protein content at 16 percent per volume! This means that a measly ¼ cup (dry) quinoa has 6 grams of protein. If you paired this grain with a couple of spears of asparagus and pieces of cauliflower, broccoli and sprouted mung bean stir–fry, you would have an easy meal with 30 grams of protein or more!

 

Health Benefits of Quinoa:

  • Magnesium: Relaxes muscles and blood vessels, which can help regulate blood pressure.
  • Manganese and copper: Both work as antioxidants to protect the body from free radicals.
  • Lignans: A phytonutrient found to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as certain types of cancer.

Quinoa is also a good source of natural iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, manganese, tryptophan copper, phosphorus and more.

Footnotes:

1-http://gentleworld.org/10-health-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds/

Image Credits

Broccoli: Image: zirconicusso / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mung Bean Sprouts: Image: numanzaa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2-There is American grown quinoa for anyone concerned about the politics of Bolivian grown quinoa.

3-“When the body receives complete or complex proteins it has to rip the amino acids apart and reassemble them accordingly. Amino acids from plant sources allow the body to skip that process and go right to the end game.” (http://vegetarian.about.com/od/beverage1/a/Raw-Food-and-Protein.htm)

4- The world of the future, a plant based diet: (http://gentleworld.org/why-james-cameron-says-you-should-be-vegan/)

Connie Rogers from www.Bitesizepieces.net