Best Vegan Protein Source – Hemp, Sacha Inchi, Spirulina and More

 

Hi everyone,

Recently I posted an article comparing a range of ‘protein rich’ vegetarian foods, showing how they stacked up in terms of nutritional quality. In today’s follow on article I thought I would continue exploring this, and this time add a range of fresh vegetables and seeds to show you just how many options you really do have at your disposal!

I hope the table below proves useful to you, and as usual, I have highlighted some of the key findings so help fast track the learning that takes place from your viewing.

So which vegetables reign supreme?

  1. I have highlighted the foods highest in protein, but remember we are looking at these all based per 100g; Hence both the vegetable pastas would rate the highest in terms of protein per serve. Other foods such as seeds and food supplements may contain high protein percentages, however it is unlikely you would eat 100g of these alone, not to mention they are significantly more calorie dense.
  1. While vegetables contain only moderate levels of protein, they are significantly lower in calories compared to other items with serves generally greater than 100g. For example you can obtain a greater amount of protein with significantly less calories from a 100g of green peas compared to a serve of seeds (roughly 1 tbsp).
  1. While seitan has been included for comparison, it should be noted that this is predominantly made from processed gluten; It would therefore be unsuitable for those with gluten intolerances. It also lacks many of the nutrients which more natural protein sources contain, and therefore I would recommend above this.
  1. In terms of high fibre foods, both vegetable based pasta’s stand out with their impressive fibre content. Seeds are also high in dietary fibre, however provide less when compared on a serving size basis (say 20g of seeds V 100g of pasta).
  1. Naturally all seeds contain high levels of zinc, with the best source being hemp seeds. Sun dried tomatoes are also high in zinc, however be careful as many store bought varieties can be loaded with oil and salt. You would also need to eat a substantial amount in order to reach your recommended daily zinc intake.
  1. In terms of ‘heart healthy’ omega 3 fatty acids, it’s no surprise that the best sources were chia seeds. We must remember that this is in the form of the plant based ALA which is not as readily utilised by the body as EPA and DHA found in animal and algae based foods. Chia seeds are extremely versatile and can be added to many dishes in order to boost your omega 3 and fibre intake.

 

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Vegan Protein Sources – Nutrition Comparison

Protein Source Values per Calories Kilojoules Protein (g) Total Fat Saturated Fat Carbohydrate Dietary fibre Sugar Sodium (mg) Iron (mg) Zinc Omega 3 (mg)
Hemp seeds 100g 580 2428 36.7 45.0 3.3 6.7 3.3 0.0 0.0 9.6 11.5 8680.0
Sunflower seeds 100g 589 2465 26.8 51.0 4.3 2.2 10.8 2.0 0.0 4.6 5.82 0.0
Pumpkin seeds 100g 577 2416 24.4 45.6 8.4 13.7 10.2 1.0 20.0 10.0 7.46 0.0
Chia seeds 100g 490 2052 15.6 30.8 3.2 44.0 38.0 0.0 19.0 0.0 3.5 17552.0
Black bean pasta 100g 322 1344 45.0 3.6 2.0 30.0 22.0 9.0 0.0 36.0 0.0 0.0
Mung bean fettuccine 100g 325 1360 44.6 3.6 1.8 30.4 19.6 10.7 3.6 36.0 0.0 0.0
Seitan (wheat gluten) 100g 370 1548 75.0 1.8 0.3 13.8 0.6 0.0 29.0 5.2 0.85 0.0
Sacha inchi seeds 100g 630 2647 28.3 55.7 3.6 3.0 6.7 2.2 4.0 Unable to obtain data Unable to obtain data 25400.0
Spirulina 100g 290 1214 57.5 7.7 2.7 23.9 3.6 3.1 1048.0 28.5 2.0 823.0
Unsweetened cocoa powder 100g 220 921 18.1 13.1 7.7 58.3 29.8 1.8 19.0 15.5 6.4 0.0
Chia seed peanut butter 100g 594 2485 22.0 50.0 6.0 22.0 9.0 3.0 0.0 13.0 Unable to obtain data Unable to obtain data
Chia seed butter 100g 541 2259 15.6 43.8 6.3 34.4 25.0 3.1 93.8 4.0 Unable to obtain data 22500.0
Almond butter 100g 633 2650 15.1 59.1 5.6 21.2 3.7 0.0 11.0 3.7 3.0 423.0
Broccoli (cooked) 100g 31 129 4.6 0.3 0.1 0.4 3.8 0.4 22.0 0.85 0.6 0.0
Cauliflower (cooked) 100g 25 103 2.2 0.2 0.0 2.0 2.8 2.0 31.0 0.47 0.25 0.0
Asparagus (cooked) 100g 25 105 2.9 0.1 0.0 1.6 2.7 1.6 2.0 1.12 0.22 0.0
Mushrooms 100g 25 103 3.3 0.3 0.0 1.4 1.5 0.3 8.0 0.27 0.56 0.0
Sun dried tomatoes 100g 263 1101 11.2 4.6 0.0 35.2 14.7 33.9 73.0 5.6 13.3 0.0
Edamame (cooked) 100g 122 511 10.9 5.2 0.6 10.2 5.2 2.2 6.0 2.3 1.4 361.0
Green peas (cooked) 100g 62 259 5.2 0.3 0.0 6.4 6.6 2.5 3.0 1.8 1.0 0.0
Spinach 100g 24 101 2.6 0.3 0.1 0.7 4.1 0.7 23.0 3.5 0.6 0.0

This table again highlights a small sample of the amazing breadth of vegetarian protein sources on offer. I think it shows you just how easy it can be to incorporate a range of different foods in order to maximise your protein intake. For example, simply adding a handful of seeds to your next salad or choosing a vegetable based pasta over regular wheat varieties can go a long way to boosting the nutrition of the dish.

Until next time,

TD x

 


NUTTAB database:
http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/monitoringnutrients/nutrientables/nuttab/Pages/default.aspxData sources/references:

USDA nutrient data base: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods

Self-nutrition data: http://nutritiondata.self.com/

Hemp seed omega 3-s: http://www.hempfood.com/nutrition.html

Sacha inchi seeds: http://www.morlife.com/sacha-inchi-seeds-whole-roasted-125gm/

Mung bean fettuccine: http://www.explore-asian.com/mungbeanpasta#.U_clavmSxGk

Chia Kind butter (Chia seeds & peanut butter): http://www.myfitnesspal.com/en/food/calories/chiakindbutter-gator-grit-smooth-chia-seed-peanut-butter-41438767

Chia seed butter: http://www.livingtreecommunity.com/store2/product.asp?id=208&catid=1

 

 

About The Author

Kara Landau aka "Travelling Dietitian" is an Australian Accredited Practicing Dietitian based in Sydney, Australia. She is a world explorer, healthy foodie, social butterfly, barre and HIIT class lover. When she isn't trying new cuisines, researching new product innovations in the health food space, or speaking to the media on behalf of her food industry clients, she can be found quietly conjuring up her next idea on how to make this world a healthier and better place.

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