Plant-based alternatives can help you to meet the protein requirements necessary for maintaining body function while boosting physical health and mental well-being and helping reduce your environmental impact.
It is good to have a variety of plant proteins in your diet to reap the maximum benefits. Soybean, pulses, seeds & nuts, and hemp can be great sources of protein, with soy protein having a Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) (a measure of quality of amino acid and its digestibility) value of 1.0, which is the highest for any plant protein, and the same for Pea Protein is 0.87. Other than soybean, hemp seed, sunflower seed, and other nut proteins contain all the nine essential amino acids, making them complete protein sources. These can be incorporated in various forms, such as traditional meals, protein blends such as brown rice & pea, protein supplements, tofu and tempeh, plant-based meat, dairy, eggs, and more.
These proteins can be consumed by all age groups for various use cases. For instance, clinicians frequently recommend soy-based infant formula to babies experiencing diarrhea and milk allergies, which are prevalent in infants. Studies have shown that pea protein, in combination with other plant protein sources and potato protein concentrate aid, in muscle growth similar to milk proteins. US FDA mentioned consuming 25g of soy protein a day in a diet (with low saturated fats and cholesterol) may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Seeds and nuts, like chia, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, sesame seeds, almonds, and walnuts, contain a good amount of protein that can help one achieve their protein requirement. Cereal-pulse combinations like khichdi and idli-sambar, adding soy chunks or granules, tofu, and tempeh to quick breakfast options such as, muesli and flakes, can help in achieving a good amino acid score.
But it is also important to acknowledge the fact that right now, in India, the soybean grown is majorly from a feed consumption point of view. Instead of importing fats (soybean oil) duty-free, we can import protein (human-grade soybean) from the US, which is superior in terms of quality and quantity. Their stable protein structures make them more suitable for processing into plant-based meat and dairy without the downside of off-smell, an intrinsic characteristic of human-grade soybean.
The quality of protein can improve by 10% and more with various methods like fermentation, germination, soaking, and cooking. For example, fermentation can improve the protein digestibility of pulses by promoting protein cross-linking and reducing the levels of Anti-Nutritional Factors (ANFs) that inhibit digestive enzymes. Apart from being high in protein content, plant-based foods are naturally rich in an array of other nutrients such as B Vitamins, selenium, zinc, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A while being low in saturated fats, cholesterol, sugars, and calories.
In conclusion, by consuming the right quantity, combination, and kind of plant proteins, you can not only get holistic nutrition but also make a significant contribution to a more sustainable future for everyone.
For further queries, kindly contact Sanjay Sethi, executive director, Plant Based Foods Industry Association, at +91 9004777119 or email@example.com