Protein is one of those words that has become aligned with a misleading reputation. Think “protein,” and you might imagine someone trying to bulk up, or a refrigerator stuffed with…
Protein is one of those words that has become aligned with a misleading reputation. Think “protein,” and you might imagine someone trying to bulk up, or a refrigerator stuffed with meat — or the misconception that it’s something plant-based eaters don’t get enough of.
While plant-based diets can be great sources of the building block nutrient, protein is not created equal. Getting it from sources like beans, quinoa, and chickpeas come with a myriad of additional health benefits that help you live longer (a study found just eating 3 % more plant-based protein can lower the risk of early mortality by 10%) and look as good as you feel.
Protein-rich legumes — think pinto beans, peanuts, black beans, and kidney beans — also contain saponins. Along with helping lower cholesterol levels and boosting general immunity, saponins have been found to be beneficial in protecting against cancer. In comparison, cow milk (and all derived dairy products) contains a protein called casein, which promotes cancer growth by making our body more acidic and modifying enzyme activity. Excuse us while we reach for our almond milk.
Lately, our hearts have been at risk: cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death around the world, but having a healthy heart doesn’t have to be difficult. Unlike traditional Western diets, plant-based food has less cholesterol and saturated fat, protecting your cardiovascular system while improving your overall health.
Gut health is one of the biggest wellness movements of the past few months, so it’s only natural you’d want your everyday diet to give your gut some serious love. By consuming so many fruits and veggies, you’re naturally getting lots of healthy fibers. Not only does this fight bloating, having a healthy digestive system is also key to boosting your immune system and energy levels. For best results, eat fruit by itself — wait an hour after a meal before reaching for an apple or banana.
Meat and dairy can trigger inflammation in the body, which can aggravate autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Chronic, low-grade inflammation left untreated can be debilitating on your body, making you more vulnerable to disease, and can be triggered by everything from stress to food allergies to lifestyle to a lack of sleep. The biggest culprits? Dairy, meat, and refined carbs and sugars. By swapping these for foods like dark leafy greens, quinoa, and berries, you’ll be reducing inflammation and its symptoms, including acne, eczema, susceptibility to infections, and high blood pressure. Some of our fave inflammation fighters include ginger, turmeric, chia seeds, and coconut oil.
Of course, one of the greatest advantages of getting plant-based protein is that eating green means going green. Eating whole, plant-based foods drastically decreases your environmental footprint by reducing land clearing, a demand on land, water waste, and greenhouse gas emissions. Studies have also found that it could combat world hunger by freeing up millions of tons of grains for hungry populations that would otherwise be used to feed livestock. A healthier planet is a healthier us.