Plant-based foods typically contain fiber, which promotes good gut bacteria, smoother digestion, and, in the case of soluble fiber, better heart health.
Research has suggested that a plant-based diet could play a role in cancer prevention. Other studies have shown plant-based eating can be a helpful strategy for weight loss and type 2 diabetes management.
Beyond their advantages for personal wellness, proteins from plants also make a difference for the environment. In terms of land use, freshwater consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions, plant foods have a definite upper hand over animal products.
Drawbacks of plant-based protein
Despite their many benefits, proteins from plants do have some drawbacks.
Though most plant-based choices provide ample amounts of protein, in many cases, they simply can’t compete with the high levels in animal products like beef or chicken.
Similarly, don’t expect plant-based proteins to provide one-to-one levels of micronutrients with animal products. Many have lower amounts of B vitamins, iron, and vitamin D3.
It’s important to note that commercially prepared plant-based proteins are often processed. A diet high in processed foods has been linked to weight gain and a possible increased risk of cancer.
To distinguish your many plant protein options, here’s a look at the various categories:
Plant Protein types:
- Soy-based: tempeh, tofu, edamame, Impossible Burger, soy milk, soy crumbles (textured vegetable protein)
- Bean- or legume-based: lentils, beans and rice, chickpeas, black beans, bean burgers, eggless eggs
- Pea protein-based: Pea protein, pea milk
- Grain-based: seitan, Ezekiel bread, whole wheat flour, spelt, teff
- Nut- and seed-based: almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa
- Veggie-based: potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, asparagus
- Other: mycoprotein, spirulina
|Plant-Based Protein||Service Size||Protein|
|Edamame||1/2 cup||7 g|
|Pea protein||1 tbsp||24 g|
|Lentils||1 cup, cooked||18 g|
|Beans and rice||1 cup, cooked||12 g|
|Chia seeds||2 tbsp||5 g|
|Quinoa||1 cup||8 g|
|Chickpeas||1 cup||15 g|
|Almonds||1/4 cup||6 g|
|Green peas||1/2 cup||4 g|
|Seitan||1 oz.||21 g|
|Tofu||3 oz.||8 g|