What are the best plant proteins for your body?

It’s often believed that only a diet rich in animal products will give you the best protein your body needs. However, a diet rich in plant-based proteins can provide you with all the protein you need.

But wait! Before you go & buy ten bunches of kale, it’s essential to know the type of protein which is in each plant & if it’s the type our bodies need the most.

Did you know that proteins are made up of combinations of amino acids? Amino acids are organic compounds that form the building blocks of life & are essential to all our biological functions. There are 20 amino acids in our body’s protein, 9 of which are termed ‘essential’ as our bodies cannot produce them & we need them in our diet. For a food to be considered a ‘complete’ protein, it must contain all 9 of these essential amino acids, roughly in the same amount – Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine.

Although we need these nine amino acids, we don’t need to have them in each bite of food; we just need to ensure that we have some daily, this can be made easier by incorptaorating them into your favourite dishes like pasta or tacos. So what plants are richest in essential proteins?

Spirulina: 57g per 100g – but is not a complete protein as it does not contain methionine & cysteine.

Hemp seed: 36.7g per 100g – hemp is low in lysine & leucine

Sacha Inchi: 28g per 100g – contains all essential amino acids

Sunflower seeds: 26g per 100g – contain all essential amino acids

Chia seeds: 15g per 100g – are low in lysine

Quinoa: 13.1g per 100g – contains all essential amino acids

Buckwheat: 13g per 100g – contains all essential amino acids & is high in lysine & arginine (but take it easy as the anti-nutrients in buckwheat make it harder for our bodies to digest it)

Lentils: 9g per 100g – contains all essential amino acids but is very low in methionine

Tofu (soy): 7g per 100g – contains all essential amino acids (look for fermented soy products such as tempeh or natto, which are better for you. Interestingly, soy beans contain 17g per 100g!)

Kale: 4.3g per 100g – contains all essential amino acids