Protein without meat

Monday, January 30, 2006
Nuts and legumes
Did you know that eating a variety of protein-rich plant foods each day will give your body all the protein it needs for good health? And with so much focus on high protein diets, it's worth considering that plant protein foods not only give you the benefits of protein, they also offer thousands of phytochemicals that protect against disease.

Plant protein powerhouses
Nuts, seeds, legumes and grains are all good sources of protein. Soy protein in particular is a high quality plant protein that provides all of the essential amino acids we need in the one food. The key is to simply eat a variety of protein-containing plant foods every day to make sure you get the best balance of essential amino acids.

Plant protein for health
Not only do plant food sources of protein offer the benefits of protein — including weight loss — but they offer the additional benefits of naturally occurring compounds known as phytochemicals. Phytochemicals — like lignans found in legumes and phytoestrogens found in soy — have been shown to protect our body against heart disease and certain cancers.

A word about high-protein diets
While high-protein diets, like the CSIRO Total Wellbeing diet, can be effective for some people, they generally focus strongly on animal sources of protein and suggest red meat consumption well in excess of Australian dietary recommendations. Processed meats in particular, like salami and ham, increase your risk of developing cancer so, if you're interested in weight loss without disease, try to replace some of the animal protein in your diet with plant protein.

Tasty plant protein ideas

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Advice Tips
Try tofu Tofu is delicious and there are plenty of ways to serve it, try:

  • Threading tofu cubes on skewers with capsicum, pineapple and zucchini and marinating them for an hour in a mixture of soy sauce, crushed garlic and ginger before barbecuing.
  • Pre-marinated tofu — it is perfect for Asian dishes and is available from most supermarkets in a wide variety of flavours, including Thai, Japanese and Malaysian.
Soy smoothie Enjoy a fruit smoothie based on soy milk — a combination of banana, berries and honey is divine.
Go nutty Snack on a small handful of nuts each day, or sprinkle some on a stir-fry or salad.
Enjoy wholegrains Start the day with a wholegrain breakfast cereal, for example, natural muesli with plenty of nuts and seeds, topped with fresh fruit, served with soy milk or yoghurt.
Lovely legumes Combine a can of rinsed chickpeas, 100 grams of rocket, 1/2 a cup of semi-dried tomatoes and 1 sliced avocado in a salad bowl. Dress with a mixture of macadamia nut oil, lemon juice and a dash of wholegrain mustard and enjoy.

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