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Many of us have come into contact with a variety of protein products, in addition to animal protein, healthy plant based protein is also an important source of protein for us humans. So how much do you know about plant protein? The main sources of plant protein in human food are grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. What are their differences? Let's find out together!
Wheat and grains
Among all plant sources, wheat provides the most protein in human diet. The protein content of grains and foods made from grains ranges from 7% to 15%, which is usually lower than that of animal protein foods. Wheat gluten extracted from wheat is a by-product of starch production. The high-quality plant protein content of gluten can reach 75%-80%, and it can be added to various foods. It is also known as "gluten". However, although gluten can provide us with protein, it can also cause some people to have celiac disease.
Soy protein is the most popular source of plant protein. Soy contains 35%-40% total protein, with balanced amino acid composition. These advantages make soy protein an important source of plant protein. China is the birthplace of soybeans and has a history of edible use for thousands of years. It is one of the earliest countries in the world to produce soy products such as tofu, fermented bean curd, soy milk, soy sauce, bean sausage, and bean curd sheets.
Peas and other legumes
They can be processed into powders, protein concentrates, or protein isolates, with protein content as high as 85%-95%. These products can then be used in baking, meat processing, and more. Similarly, among legumes, red beans, peas, kidney beans, and mung beans mainly contain starch, their protein content is not as high as soybeans.
For example, quinoa, buckwheat, chia seeds, etc. They are called pseudocereals because they do not contain gluten. From a nutritional perspective, they have a good amino acid composition. Quinoa is often called a "super grain" by many people because it is rich in protein, fiber, trace elements such as iron and copper, and vitamins B, etc.
Nuts and seeds
The protein content of nuts varies greatly. Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and cashews have the highest protein content, at about 20% or even higher than 20%. Hazelnuts and pine nuts are slightly lower, at about 11%-15%. Black walnuts have the lowest protein content, less than 10%. We often treat nuts as snacks in daily life, and they can also be used to make cakes, pastries, biscuits, and other foods. However, most nuts and seeds have a high fat content, so it is advisable to consume them in moderation to avoid excessive fat intake. Especially commercially available nuts are often added with sugar, salt, and other seasonings, which makes it easier for us to gain weight if consumed in large quantities.
For example, sunflower seeds, the by-products after extracting oil contain abundant proteins. The protein content of sunflower kernels is about 21%-31% and contains a large amount of sulfur-containing amino acids. However, most plant protein lacks sulfur-containing amino acids.
The protein content in natural seaweed is relatively low, about 6%-30% on a dry weight basis, and varies greatly depending on the species, season, and environmental conditions.