Proteins are essential in nutrition. They are major components of the cellular architecture and play a pivotal role in the maintenance and function of almost all biological reactions that occur within our bodies.
The name, protein, comes from the Greek word protos which means ‘first’ or ‘foremost.’ They are the most abundant biological macromolecules that occur in the cells of all living organisms. They are also greatly diverse in forms, lengths, and functions.
Many proteins act as enzymes which are like tiny machines that carry out biological functions and reactions, such as energy conversion/production, or cellular molecular structure components building. Other proteins act as structural components of the body in assemblies such as skin, muscles, nails, and hair. Proteins are made out of chains of 20 different amino acids that can combine in many different configurations to yield an amazing diversity.
Humans can not synthesize amino acids (the basic components of proteins,) which makes protein consumption indispensable in our diets. Animal products like meat, eggs and dairy products are rich in protein.
But, what about vegetable proteins?
How do vegetarians, or people who want to cut down on animal food sources, achieve a correct balanced diet with enough rich protein nutrients?
The answer comes from the correct choice of veggies that we put on our plates.
All vegetables have some amount of protein, but in some cases is to low to fulfill our daily needs. Care should be taken to guarantee a balanced diet with sufficient amounts of vegetable protein.
For example, a potato is a very nutritious meal, full of energy (carbohydrates) and vitamins, but low in protein (less than 4 g per portion). The same goes for many fruits. So, when eating these veggies, a combination with richer protein-containing vegetables can do the trick to keep our diet on the mark.
Almonds, nuts, kale, peas, beans (in all of its forms and colors) cereals, spinach, lentils, broccoli, corncob, berries, mushrooms, algae are some of the rich protein veggies (> 9g per portion) indispensable to be in vegetarian’s diets.
Sprouts are another excellent source of protein. Basically, any edible sprout will boost your protein intake. Alfalfa, lentils, soybeans, cabbage are among the many plants suitable for produce edible sprouts.
There are also many processed vegetable food products that are rich in proteins. For instance, soy milk, tofu, almond milk, Spirulina bars are among the richest vegetable protein foods that can be consumed.
As we mentioned above, proteins are essential in our diets. At least 50g of protein should be eaten daily.
When following the path of yoga many choose also a spiritual connection that demands a vegetarian diet. Ahimsa virtue in many Indian traditions aims to produce no harm, or no injury to other beings, making eating animal meat a fallacy. But, yoga also imposes a strong physical demand on the body. So, a correct diet with correct protein intake is very important. Following a proper diet will help achieve the full benefits of the practice. This is where knowing protein-rich veggies come in handy.
Put healthy eating into practice, full of veggies, full of diversity, full of colors, and full of flavors. Keep it balanced and watch out for protein intake. And after a revitalizing healthy meal, put on your yoga leggings and do some asanas. Treat your body as a temple. Feed it right and nourish it with love.