It's June and we’re six months into our Positive Resolution project. This month’s resolution topic focuses on plant proteins and encourages everyone to eat a plant! This topic continues the themes from the past three months which were whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Adding plant proteins easily builds upon these earlier achievements.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, plant-based diets lead to reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, some types of cancer, and obesity. More and more studies recommend we eat more plants and less animal products. A plant-based diet consists mainly of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes, with modest amounts of meat. This is good for us and good for the environment.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows the average American gets 46% of their protein intake from animals, 16% from dairy products, and 30% from plants. The main plant proteins currently eaten by Americans include yeast breads, seeds and nuts, beans, peas, legumes, potatoes, tortillas, beer, cookies, brownies, and ready-to-eat cereal.
This month’s goal is to select nutritious plant-based protein choices. In addition to the protein in these plants, you also get fiber, probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Good plant-based protein choices include tempeh, edamame, lentils, beans, quinoa, brown rice, tofu, peanut butter, and nuts.
Be mindful of what you’re eating. Think about how and why you could add more nutrient-dense plant proteins to your meals. How can you make it a habit? Take the time to evaluate and reflect on this month’s goal and what will work for you.
Here are some possible goals (pick a few to try or make some of your own).
- For one dinner this month, instead of a beef burger, try grilling a portabella mushroom or a veggie burger.
- Pack a nut butter and banana or apple sandwich in your lunch once a week.
- Make a pot of chili this month using beans instead of meat.
- Twice this month, when a recipe calls for ground beef, use lentils. Or try lentils as a main dish.
- Try a new recipe each week that includes a plant protein. Some of our favorites are Black Bean Relish, Breakfast Pizza (with peanut butter and fruit), or an Asian Wrap with tofu.
- Vow to experiment with at least one type of plant protein that is new to you such as tofu, tempeh ,or a commercially-made plant protein product.
Take one more step this month to a healthier lifestyle…..eat a plant!
By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University
Need more info on plant proteins? Here are some articles from our archives that might inspire you!
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.