Protein is an essential element of a healthy, well-balanced diet. In fact, protein makes up a large part of all your body’s cells, which is why it is so important that you get enough each day. And that’s especially true for those following
a vegetarian, nearly vegetarian or vegan diet who don’t get their daily requirement from protein-rich sources like meat. The good news is that reaching your daily protein needs doesn’t mean having to include more meat or even any meat all.
Just how much protein do you need on a daily basis? Women need approximately 46 grams and men 56 grams of protein
each day. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers need to add additional protein to their diets. On average, it is recommended that they get 70 grams each day. Athletes and active individuals also require more protein based on the length, frequency and intensity
of their workouts, which could mean increasing their protein intake by 50% more than a non-active man or woman.
Nearly every food contains some amount of protein but there are plenty of protein-rich, vegetarian-friendly options out there too. It might
surprise you just how much protein there is in some of these healthy, meatless foods.
Jennifer Panicko, RD, LDN at NorthShore, shares some of the best veggie-friendly options to maximize daily protein intake:
What are some of your favorite vegetarian protein sources?
Sometimes the best gifts come in small packages and sometimes the best foods do too. They might not look like much
but seeds can pack a hefty nutritional punch. Tiny titans of a healthy diet, seeds contain nutrients like protein, fiber, iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
Jennifer Panicko, Registered Dietitian at NorthShore, discusses the big benefits of adding any of these five seeds to your already healthy diet:
Chia seeds. Packed with fiber, chia seeds are filling and nutrient-rich, adding omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, potassium and iron to the mix too. Their pleasant nutty flavor means they can be consumed raw or added to yogurts, oatmeal and
sprinkled on top of favorite whole grain snacks.
Banana almond overnight oatmeal with chia seeds
Sunflower seeds. With lots of B vitamins, especially folate, sunflower seeds are a great snack for pregnant women and those looking to boost the strength of their immune systems. They also have lots of vitamin E, and, even better, are packed
with protein and heart-healthy fats. Go natural and skip the salted variety.
Shaved squash, sunflower seed and feta salad
Flax seeds. Small but mighty, flax seeds are brimming with nutritional value. They contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lignans—which are plant-based phytoestrogen that have been shown to lower one’s risk for some types of cancer—and
both soluble and insoluble fiber. Make sure to grind the seeds before consuming to ensure you get their full benefits.
Date and oat muffins with flax seeds
Sesame seeds. The health benefits of sesame seeds go on and on. They are high in antioxidants, which help boost the immune system, and have been shown to lower hypertension and bad cholesterol, and reduce stress levels. With a delicate nutty
flavor, they can be added to just about anything.
Salmon with sesame and orange relish
Pumpkin seeds. A delicious source of B vitamins and iron, pumpkin seeds are also high in a particular amino acid that has been shown to reduce anxiety: tryptophan. They’re also a fantastic source for omega-3 fatty acids, which can help
lower bad cholesterol levels. Serve them raw or roasted, either will make a healthy snack.
Corn and quinoa summer salad with toasted pumpkin seeds
What is your favorite seeded recipe?