Raw Meat with Rosemary

Sustainable & Power Packed Green Alternative For Meat Protein

 Why You Should Cut Back On Meat Part 3 

2021 July

In this final article of our meat consumption series, we will take a closer look at three of the most commonly found planet-friendly protein alternatives —peanuts, quinoa, and soy. This will also help address the dilemma that vegetarian food lacks protein.

Peanut 

Peanuts, a legume variety originating from South America, are well known famous for their high protein and healthy fat content. They can be consumed raw, roasted, or more commonly as butter! 

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Nutritional Content:

In addition to peanuts being an exceptionally good source of protein & healthy fats, they are also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are low in carbs, making them an attractive dietary option for people with type 2 diabetes. Their high calories content makes them comparable alternatives to meat.

 Interesting Facts 

Some protein variants in peanuts are what make up the allergic content of peanuts.

Health Benefit: 

According to multi-country research, peanuts provide protection against heart disease, with a 17-21% less chance of death from heart conditions seen in cohorts that consume peanuts. Peanuts also lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to their high unsaturated fat content that helps the body better regulate insulin.

So go ahead, add them to your morning smoothies or as a salad dressing for a nutty rich taste! But as with anything, ‘Moderation’ is the key.

Quinoa  

Called a ‘Superfood’, this Peruvian goodie is a fantastic source of plant-based protein and fiber. Classified as whole-grain, quinoa is highly nutritious, to a point where it can provide a large portion of a person’s daily nutritional requirement. 

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Nutritional Content:

Quinoa is not only high in protein but is one of the few plant-based foods that contain sufficient amounts of all 9 essential amino acids. And as we all know that amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and essential amino acids are ones that the body is not able to synthesize on its own, and requires quinoa from our diet.

Compared to other plant-based sources, quinoa is relatively high in carbs but is also high in antioxidants (compounds that are important in fighting inflammation and chronic conditions), and fiber, which aid digestion.

 Interesting Facts 

  • Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, so it is an excellent option for those who are intolerant or are avoiding gluten

  • Though it is rich in minerals, the presence of a substance called phytic acid prevents their absorption. Soaking and/or sprouting the quinoa prior to cooking can reduce the phytic acid content and make the minerals more bioavailable.

Health Benefit: 

Quinoa is high in protein, fiber as well as low in glycemic index, making it very popular for a healthy lifestyle.

Soy 

Soy, a legume native to East Asia, is widely known for its numerous health benefits and valued for its high protein and oil content. It has also been studied extensively for its role in chronic disease prevention.  It is enjoyed in many forms including tofu, soy milk, and soy sauce.

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Nutritional Content:

Soy's protein content is much higher compared to other plant sources and is comparable to animal sources. It is also a great source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, notably calcium, potassium, and iron. Like peanuts, the low levels of carbohydrates in soy make it a great plant-based meal option for people with diabetes. Much of soy’s carbohydrate is made of complex sugars that are poorly digested by intestinal enzymes; and so travel is unscathed to the colon, stimulating the proliferation of bacteria that are important in fiber digestion and infection prevention.

 Interesting Facts 

Concerns over the soy-isoflavones arise from their similarity with the female hormone estrogen, and the belief that these substances affect estrogen-sensitive tissues like breast and uterus, and may even promote cancer growth in these regions. It must be noted that the issues regarding this controversy are primarily based on animal studies, and existing human research supports the safety and benefits of soy foods. This is further backed up by a study done by the North American Menopause Society that isoflavones DO NOT increase the risk of breast or uterus cancer.

Health Benefit: 

Soy decreases levels of bad cholesterol in the body and also helps regulate blood pressure, which in turn decreases the risk of developing heart disease. 

 Interesting Facts 

So What now? 

Plant proteins are healthy & sustainable. These protein alternatives can be used in creating sumptuously delicious and hearty dishes, so much so that you won’t miss ‘meat’ anymore. Give these green alternatives a chance; they are low in calories and will keep you full for long. In fact, this kind of diet can be useful in lowering your chronic illnesses and helps your as well as our planet’s health.

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PS - We will be sharing some creative recipes by  Raymond Yap, who has been on this journey for a while now. With a strong passion for cooking, he continues to try new recipes, one of which is soy yogurt. He is super excited to share this with our readers. and will be dropping a video soon. So Stay tuned!.

About the Author 

Eleleta Surafel

Eleleta is a medical graduate, who, inspired by the pandemic made a transition to public health practice, and found passion in delivering education on health impacts of environmental issues.

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