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Sharp Health News

The importance of protein in a plant-based diet

July 18, 2019

Vegetarian diet and protein
From soy-based burgers to dishes so flavorful you’ll never miss the animal products, it’s easier than ever to eat a plant-based diet. The one thing that stops many people from making the switch is the concern that they will not get enough protein to keep their body healthy.

According to Patti Ennis, manager of the clinical nutrition program at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, adequate protein to maintain body tissues, including muscle, can easily be achieved with a plant-based diet.

“Not only are certain vegetables high in protein, but they also provide other nutrients including fiber, vitamins and minerals,” she says. Plus, these healthy proteins contain no saturated fat or cholesterol.

The benefits of a vegetarian diet include:
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced risk of some types of cancer
  • Improvement to environmental impact
How much protein do you need to eat each day?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein needed for the average adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight — for example, if an individual weighs 135 pounds, he or she would need 48.6 grams of protein each day. To calculate your RDA, multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.36.

When following a plant-based diet, ensure you are receiving the recommended amount of protein each day by incorporating healthful, plant-based protein sources to your diet. Here’s a list of some high-protein, vegetarian options:
  • Tofu, firm (1/2 cup) = 19.9 grams of protein
  • Lentils, boiled (1 cup) = 17.9 grams of protein
  • Black beans (1 cup) = 15.2 grams of protein
  • Chickpeas, boiled (1 cup) = 14.5 grams of protein
  • Quinoa, cooked (1 cup) = 11 grams of protein
To help support eating more fruits and vegetables, many Sharp Mindful Cafes observe “Meatless Mondays,” and offer healthful, meat-free options. If you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, start by dedicating one day a week to eating plant-based meals. That way, it will be easier to either make the switch completely or work toward maintaining a modified version of the plant-based diet.

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