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Protein in Plant Food?

Posted Jan 14 2010 12:00am

Since I do not consume meat, dairy, or any animal products, I am often asked where I get my sources of protein. People are usually surprised that plant foods contain protein at all, so when I explain that they contain more protein per calorie than animal products they find it hard to believe. We are taught at such a young age to associate meat and dairy with protein, that we often don’t realize the completeness of nature’s whole foods.

Meanwhile, as a nation we consume far more protein than is actually needed. About 70 percent of dietary protein comes from animal products in North America, whereas 84 percent of calories are provided by plant foods worldwide. Studies stemming from the 1950′s showed that adults require 20-35 grams of protein per day. The average American ingests 100-120 grams of protein per day, with a large majority coming from animal sources placing us at increased risk for diseases of affluence. Those consuming a vegetable-based diet tend to consume 60-80 grams of protein per day, which still meets daily requirements without stressing our kidneys on a regular basis.

One of the many benefits of increasing plant protein is that it decreases the amount of saturated fat, cholesterol, casein, and non-nutritive calories. Meanwhile ingestion of plant foods simultaneously increases micronutrients that equip the body to ward off disease and inflammation while preventing chronic health problems.

Please note the following plant foods and their percent of protein composition.

Food:                                                                            Percent Protein:

Watercress                                                                   50
Spinach (frozen)                                                         51
Romaine                                                                       28
Lentils                                                                           29
Broccoli                                                                        45
Kidney beans                                                               27
Peas                                                                               27
Walnuts                                                                        14
Almonds                                                                       13
Apricot                                                                          10
Grapefruit                                                                     8
Oats                                                                               15
Buckwheat                                                                   13

Not bad considering most people think fruit, vegetables, and whole grains have no protein. Now you know they do!

Please note that some of the above information was provided in informational newsletters available at DrFuhrman’s Member Center .

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