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Top 10 Protein-Rich Foods and Supplements for Vegetarians in Asia

Looking for tips on how to increase your protein intake that are vegetarian friendly? Check out these ten tips that include natural foods and supplements specifically for women living in...

Getting adequate protein intake is essential for women, especially as they enter midlife and/or perimenopause. Protein is required to build and repair tissues, including bones, muscles, and organs. As women age, their body's ability to absorb and utilize protein decreases, leading to a loss of muscle mass and strength. Additionally, during menopause, hormonal changes can lead to increased risk of osteoporosis, making adequate protein intake even more crucial. Unfortunately, many women in Asia, especially vegetarians, have a deficit of protein in their diet. This is because many plant-based sources of protein are incomplete, meaning they lack one or more essential amino acids necessary for the body to build proteins. As a result, it is crucial for women, especially those who are vegetarian, to consume a variety of protein sources to ensure they are getting all the essential amino acids their body needs. If you want to learn more about why Protein is so important as you age - click here. 


As a vegetarian, it may seem challenging to get enough protein in your diet, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are ten tips on how to increase your protein intake:

  1. Incorporate pulses and legumes: The many types of lentils- moong, toor, masoor and urad dals along with pulses like chickpeas, kidney beans (rajma), black-eyed peas (chawli/ lobia) are excellent sources of protein. A regular part of the daily Indian diet, make sure to actively incorporate a variety of these in your meal rotation.
  2. Consume soy products: Soy products such as tofu and tempeh are a rich source of protein 
  3. Include nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are rich in protein. Keep them on hand as a healthy snack, add them to chutneys for a creamy texture (almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds), sprinkle onto your breakfast plate of poha/ upma (hemp seeds) or soak chia seeds in milk/ coconut milk and chill overnight for a healthy treat.
  4. Quinoa: Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It's a versatile ingredient that can be used in salads, stir-fries, and soups.
  5. Eat whole grains: Whole grains such as brown rice and oats are excellent sources of protein.
  6. Amaranth/ Rajgira: A local superfood, much like quinoa, Rajgira also contains all the essential amino acids. Amaranth flour can be used instead of/ along with wheat flour to make rotis, and puffed amaranth and jaggery laddus are a great snack.
  7. Paneer: A versatile ingredient, paneer is a great source of protein and very easy to incorporate, whether in Indian, Asian or continental meals.

Protein supplements

  1. Protein-Fortified Flour: Many brands offer protein-fortified flour that can be used to make roti or bread. You can also find recipes online for homemade protein powder that can be added to your flour.
  2. Protein-Packed Chai: Add a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder to your chai for a protein-packed beverage. Mix the protein powder with a small amount of hot water first, then add the chai concentrate and milk of your choice.
  3. Protein powder: Protein powder is an excellent way to add extra protein to your diet and can be added to smoothies or even your roti or dosa batter. Whey protein powder, which is derived from milk, is a popular choice, but there are also plant-based protein powders available that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans, such as soy, pea, and brown rice protein powders. When choosing a protein powder, make sure to read the label and select one that is low in added sugars and artificial ingredients. 

By following these tips, you can increase your protein intake and meet your daily protein needs as a vegetarian.



Sources 

  • Paddon-Jones D, Leidy H. Dietary protein and muscle in older persons. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2014 Jan;17(1):5-11. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000011. PMID: 24310053; PMCID: PMC4162481.
  • Bonjour JP. Protein intake and bone health. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2011 Mar;81(2-3):134-42. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000063. PMID: 22139564.
  • Chuang TL, Lin CH, Wang YF. Effects of vegetarian diet on bone mineral density. Tzu Chi Med J. 2020 Sep 16;33(2):128-134. doi: 10.4103/tcmj.tcmj_84_20. PMID: 33912409; PMCID: PMC8059457.

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