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5 protein-rich vegetarian substitutes for when meat isn’t an option

Here are five protein rich vegetarian sources of food that you can eat if meat is off limits.

You must’ve studied in school that proteins are the building-blocks of the body and that amino acids are the building-blocks for proteins. While some amino acids are produced naturally, some need to be consumed.

Meat is undoubtedly, a major source of amino acids but for vegetarians or those on a no-meat diet, protein-rich substitutes become of mammoth importance.

There are plenty of plant-based proteins that are equally beneficial for the body and can fulfill its basic nutritional needs.

These proteins can be found in a variety of readily-available pulses and grains which are a staple in India. And because the options are many, a clear explainer of which substitutes are most rich in proteins.

So here is a list of five protein-rich food items you need to include in your diet.

Also Read: 5 Foods For Healthier And Thicker Hair

1. Seeds

Sunflower and sesame seeds are high sources of protein. Sunflower seeds contain 3.3 gm of protein. Edible seeds can be used in many different ways–add them to your cereal, to a hot toast, in a bowl of soup or mix them in stir-fried veggies and salads. The most comforting way of including these seeds is by making delicious til chikkis or laddoos. In fact, the West is actually selling these chikkis as a protein power snack, so enjoy them while they remain somewhat cheaper.

2. Nuts

Nuts are a powerhouse of healthy unsaturated fats the body actually needs. Nuts also help stabilise blood sugar levels (according to a study by the British Journal of Nutrition).

They have a number of nutritional benefits and for those suffering from hair loss, nuts prevent hair damage while making shiny and thick. There is so much variety among these colourful nuts, that you can choose which ever one you like more than the others. Nuts like Cashew, almond, pistachios and peanuts have higher amount of protein, as compared to hazelnuts.

These nuts can be consumed as snacks in between meals or in the morning before your breakfast. The Indian diet includes dishes which are even seasoned with nuts. You can add your favourite nuts to muesli or porridge bowl. Regular consumption of nuts has been linked to low BMI and higher life expectancy.

3. Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain, that makes for a great substitute for starchy rice and pasta. There are a number of delicious ways to prepare quinoa. You can make it warm like an upma by boiling it with vegetables and mild spices.

Other options are to make Quinoa pulao and salad with lettuce, rocket and feta cheese.

Lentils are a very common food item cooked in Indian cuisine. These lentils are an excellent source of protein. In fact NDTV quotes Harvard School of Public Health claim that a cup of cooked lentils provides us with 18 gm of protein and 15 gm of fibre while being low on saturated fat and sodium.

Pulses like kidney beans and chickpeas which are also a source of protein and fibre and are low in fat. Rajma is a common bean used in Indian kitchens, and is rich in phosphorus, that is necessary to form strong bones. A simple rajma-chawal meal can boost your protein intake. Beans can be boiled and crushed into a delicious spread. You can even eat hummus (boiled and crushed chickpeas) as a healthy protein rich snack.

5. Ancient Grains

Healthy grains like oats, wheat, ragi and bajra (millets), are packed with proteins. Bajre ki roti or your oatmeal bowl are perfect ways to include protein in your daily diet. A grain called amaranth, which is commonly available but rarely used, is much higher in protein content as compared to other grains. Amaranth contains an amino acid called lysine, which is missing in many other grains. You can add amaranth flour to your daily chapati or paratha atta. In fact, making your chapatis from a blend of attas will substantially raise their nutritional value and make them into healthy ‘multigrain’ breads.

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