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Why Protein's Important: Registered Dietitian Tracey Hull Breaks It Down For Us

Aug 31, 2021 08:38PM ● By Tracey Hull

Protein seems to be the center of attention lately. Protein is important for muscle, right? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Protein forms the structure of your skin makes up your blood cells, and even takes sugar out of your blood and into your muscles and other tissues. Did you know your body contains 10,000 - 50,000 different proteins? They carry messages and balance fluid inside your body, heal wounds, and even make up your DNA.

Since protein is so important to everything happening in our body, we need to eat a lot of meat, right? Nope. 

Eggs and dairy, then. Those are high in protein. Yes, they’re great sources of protein, but you can find protein hiding in some surprising places. Where do you think the cows and chickens got their protein? From the plants they eat.

The great thing about plants is you’re getting a burst of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber with all that delicious protein. If you’re worried about protein combining, that’s a thing of the past. Just focus on a variety of foods throughout the day, and you’ll be just fine.

Here are just a few plants loaded with protein (and nutrients) but low in calories. 

  • Split Peas 16 grams/cup cooked
  • Lentils 18 grams/cup cooked
  • Adzuki Beans 17 grams/cup cooked
  • Black beans 15 grams/cup cooked
  • Green Peas 8 grams/cup cooked
  • Broccoli 6 grams/cup cooked
  • Brussels Sprouts 6 grams/cup cooked
  • Spinach 5 grams/cup cooked

Next time you’re putting together a meal or snack, try adding some plant foods for protein. Split pea or lentil tortilla soup can make you feel cozy on those cool fall nights. Load up on the broccoli for protein and your healthy greens. You can even mix shaved brussels sprouts with quinoa and drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette. The possibilities are endless (and delicious).

Tracey Hull, RD

YouTube: Tracey Hull Plant-Based Dietitian

[email protected]

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