People who eat vegetarian foods have a tendency to consume carbohydrate-high foods, missing out on foods high in protein and fibre. Many vegetarian foods that do contain protein, only contain a few of the amino acids — the building blocks that make up proteins — that are needed for good health. Poor dietary fibre and protein intake can lead to low energy levels, reduced immune function and increased blood sugar imbalances. Making sure that you get adequate protein and a high fibre diet will support a healthy vegetarian lifestyle in the long-term. Knowing which foods contain both of these nutritional components can make this process easier, and simpler.
Vegetarian Foods High in Protein and Fibre
Sea vegetables may not be the first thing that comes to mind when trying to think up foods high in fibre and high protein foods for vegetarians. But seaweeds like kelp, wakame, nori, dulse, bladderwrack and sea lettuce are packed full of nutrients that are important to vegetarians. Seaweed can contain anywhere from 15% to 40% protein, containing all 8 essential amino acids. Raw or fresh seaweed contains approximately 1% dietary fibre, but once dried the fibre content can rise as high as 30%. Seaweed is also one of the top dietary sources of iron, iodine, magnesium, potassium, copper, vitamin A, vitamin D and omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. Being such a powerhouse of good nutrition, it is a wonder that eating sea vegetables has not become more common place in the modern diet. Seaweeds can be easily purchased as dried whole fronds, strips, granules, and powder. Add kelp to stir fries, soups, casseroles, and stews, or consume nori, sea lettuce and dulse as dried snacks.
Mushrooms contain excellent amounts of protein and fibre for vegetarians. Though often thought of as a vegetable, mushrooms are actually a fungi, which means it contains large amounts of whole protein with all 8 essential amino acids. One cup of white button mushrooms can contain approximately 6g of protein, as well as 1g of dietary fibre. The dietary fibre in mushrooms consists of glucans and chitin, which have been researched to have special medicinal benefits once consumed. According to a study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” in 2008, the fibre in white button mushrooms may be able to stimulate the production of white blood cells that prevent infection. Other studies have also demonstrated mushrooms can balance hormones, protect against breast cancer, and support digestion. To spice things up, try out some exotic varieties of mushrooms, like shiitake, porcini, boletes, morrels, oyster and other wild seasonal species.
Grains & Cereals
Grains like wheat, rye, barley, oats, and rice are often eaten for their high dietary fibre. But their high protein content should not be taken for granted. Though most grains are missing essential amino acids (lysine, methionine, and threonine in rice), the overall protein content ranges anywhere from 5% to 15%, depending on the grain. Cereals, pastas, toast, sandwiches, etc. all contribute to daily dietary protein. But focus more on whole grains from a mixture of plant species. Over-reliance on white bread in the Western world has resulted in increasing numbers of people developing intolerances and sensitivities to gluten around the world. Alternative between gluten-containing (wheat, barley, rye) and gluten-free (oats, corn, rice) grains. Some species of grains do content all 8 essential amino acids – namely quinoa and amaranth. Hence, these two grains are becoming increasingly popular among vegetarians and vegans.
Legumes are vegetables that come from the Fabaceae family — which includes peanuts, peas, lentils, beans, soy, alfalfa, clover, and carob. While most members of the legume family are missing important amino acids – tryptophan and methionine – soy beans are the exception. Soy beans contain all 8 essential amino acids, which is one reason soy-based products like soy milk, tofu, tempeh and whole soy beans are popular foods high in protein amongst vegetarians. Tofu can contain as much as 10% protein and 1% dietary fibre, while whole soy beans can contain up to 36% protein and 10% dietary fibre. But be cautioned. Soy beans and other legumes are the highest food sources of estrogen-like compounds known as isoflavones. Isoflavones should only be consumed moderately by men, and avoided all together in women with a history of hormone-related cancers.Also you might like to read this post – fibre rich foods high in protein