Vegetarian Protein | Complete Protein for Vegetarians | Protein and Indian food

इस पन्ने को हिन्दी में पढ़ें

Protein is one of the most talked about topics these days. People are often concerned about their protein intake. Many people think that vegetarians don’t get enough protein. Specially, those who have recently quit meat and moved over to a vegetarian diet have concerns about their protein intake.

What is protein?

Protein is a macro-nutrient which plays a critical role in the body and is essential for our health. It is required for growth of muscles, tissues, bones etc. It is also required for the healthy growth of nails and hair. Protein is made of a chain of ~20 different amino acids. While our body synthesizes some of these amino acids, it cannot synthesize nine amino acids; these 9 are classified as essential amino acids - and these are what we need from our diet. Protein is present in meat, milk, eggs as well as plant-based diets.

Three categories of protein

1. Foods having complete protein - are foods which have all the essential (i.e., nine) amino acids. Most meats, poultry, eggs and milk (dairy products) have complete protein. Soybean also has complete protein.

2. Foods having incomplete proteins- are those which have one or more than one amino acid missing from the protein. Most lentils, beans, nuts etc. are sources of incomplete protein.

3. Foods having complementary proteins- when two or more than two foods having incomplete proteins are eaten together, they compensate for each other’s missing amino acids and together provide all the 9 essential amino acids. Such a combination is categorized as having complementary protein. Some examples are rice and beans, wheat bread with peanut butter, lentils with bread etc.

In Indian food there is a whole range of food items eaten in combinations which provide complementary proteins. For example- daal chawal, rajma chawal, chole chawal, idli sambhar, badam ka doodh (milk with almonds) , raita, roti with lentils, roti with mangaudi ki sbaji etc. The list is long!

vegan protein

How much protein does an adult need?

There are many different opinions. The prevailing view is that one needs about 0.8 grams of protein per Kg of body weight. For example, if your weight is 55 kg then you need about 44 grams of protein daily. A second view is that less than 10% of your daily calories should come from protein (1 gm of protein provides 4 calories).

How much protein is there in my food?

If we look at vegetarian ingredients, all the lentils beans, grains, milk, curds/yogurt, paneer, tofu, nuts like almonds, peanuts are all rich in protein. Let's have a look at some of the protein rich vegetarian ingredients. (1 cup= 237 ml)

  • 1 cup milk- 8 gram protein
  • 1 cup curds/dahi- 17 grams
  • 1 cup paneer- 20 grams
  • 1 cup soyabean- 68 grams
  • 1 cup chickpeas 38 grams
  • 1 cup kidney beans- 16 grams
  • 1 cup masoor, udad, arhar dal- about 16-20 grams
  • 1 cup wheat flour- 13 grams
  • 1 cup barley flour- 23 gram
  • 1 cup oat flour- 12 gram
  • 1 cup semolina- 23 gram
  • 1 cup white rice- 5 grams
  • 1 cup peanuts- 38 grams
  • 1 cup Amaranth- 28 grams
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour- 6 grams
  • 1 cup green peas- 8 grams
  • 100 grams fenugreek leaves-4 grams
  • 100 grams mustard greens- 2.5 grams
  • 1 cup cauliflower- 2 grams

Amount of protein in some Indian Meals

  1. If you are eating oatmeal with almonds and milk or cracked wheat porridge for breakfast, that is rich in protein. You will easily get about 15 grams of protein with grains, milk and almonds.
  2. if you are eating 4 semolina idli with coconut chutney and sambhar, it has about 17 grams of protein.
  3. Sprouts are also a rich source of protein. Upma, dhokla, etc. all have a decet amount of protein.
  4. Dal chawal and roti sabji with dahi has about 22 grams of protein.

Above are examples of some basic meals. Chick peas/ chole, rajma/kidney beans, paneer etc. are richer in protein. Butter milk, roasted gram, roasted peanuts, etc. are also a good source of protein. If you go to a gym and are working on your muscles, then you can increase the amount of dahi/curds in your diet. Badam ka doodh (Fresh almond milk) is also a good source of protein. You can also make protein rich and healthy bars at home with almonds, dates, sesame, and chia seeds.

Excess of protein can be harmful, in that the body may not be able to burn calories coming from protein, and these may then be converted into fat.

Some Protein Rich Indian Foods

It is just a myth that vegetarians do not get enough protein. In fact, Indian vegetarian food has all the required nutrients in it. There are plenty of Indian vegetarian food combinations which provide complementary protein.