Protein is considered as an essential macronutrient of the human body. They are one of the building blocks of the body tissues and can also serve as a fuel source. In other words, proteins are the polymer chains made of amino acids linked together by the peptide bonds. Moreover, protein-rich vegetarian food enables speedy repairing of ligaments, easy wear and tear of muscles, and boosts up the metabolism of the body.
Role of Proteins in the Body
Protein-rich food intake is very important for preserving the structural and functional integrity of the human body. Vegetarian Indians need to consume a wholesome of foods to extract maximum benefit and also to avoid suffering from diseases like sarcopenia, kwashiorkor, marasmus, mental retardation, and age-related muscle loss, etc.
A high protein vegetarian diet helps in maintaining a healthy weight and allows the building of lean muscle mass. Moreover, protein serves as a natural reservoir of energy in the conditions of fasting. The enzymes break down into amino acids which further synthesize glucose to supply adequate energy to the body cells.
Healthy Immune System:
Protein-based antibiotics serve as a shield from foreign bacteria and antigens. These antibiotics have a natural ability to detect and deactivate these unhealthy antigens. Not only this, protein-rich veg food in India improves bone density and muscle strength which further leads to weight maintenance.
Stabilized Heart rate and Hunger levels:
Studies have proven that rich protein intake has not only to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes but has also reduced the amount of ghrelin in our body which results in boosting the peptide YY in our body.
The dietary requirement of Protein
The amount of protein required in a person’s diet is determined by various factors such as body weight, composition, overall energy intake, physical activity level, etc. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, the recommended daily protein dietary allowance, measured as intake per kilogram body weight is 0.8 g/kg for Indian adults.
As per a survey conducted by the Indian Medical Gazette about the protein consumption of the Indians, it was scrutinized that 9 out of 10 adults have a protein-deficient diet regardless of the biological structure and socio-economic conditions. Also, vegetarian Indians had high levels of protein deficiency as compared to non-vegetarians.
Top Protein-Rich Vegetarian Food in India
Nuts are excellent sources of protein, dietary fiber, vitamin E and healthy fats. As per The British Journal of Nutrition, a healthy amount of nut consumption can lower down the BMI levels, increase life expectancy and balance the blood glucose levels. You can simply serve them over desserts, smoothies shakes or can eat them in raw form especially in winters.
- Common nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, etc.
- Protein intake: 23 almonds or 1 ounce of cashews enables 4 to 6 grams of proteins.
Seeds are a crucial part of a protein-rich diet. Apart from high levels of protein content, these seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin b, and antioxidants. Moreover, they not only help in improving our immunity and gut but also plays an essential role in maintaining heart and blood glucose levels.
- Common seeds: Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and many more.
- Protein intake: One ounce of chia seeds or flaxseeds enables 5 to 9 grams of protein.
Legumes are plant-based ingredients which are often called as matar or dal by Indians. They are rich sources of iron, carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, phosphorus, and proteins. They not only help in lowering our calories but also maintains glycogen stores in our bodies. You can simple snack them in soups, curry, wholesome meal, breakfast salad, tacos.
- Common legumes: Chickpeas, white peas, lentils, black peas, hemp beans, kidney beans, adzuki beans, peanuts, soybeans, mung beans, etc.
- Protein intake: ½ cup of legumes offers 7 to 9 grams of protein.
Grains might not be a very high source of protein but a consistent consumption can provide all kinds of essential amino acids that are required for energy production and maintenance of overall metabolism levels in the human body.
- Common grains: Brown rice, barley, quinoa, basmati rice, wheat, millet, oats, buckwheat, sorghum, amaranth, etc.
- Protein intake: 1 cup barley or ½ cup of quinoa offers 3 to 4 grams of protein.
5. Dairy Products
There are a plethora of calcium-fortified non-dairy products that serve as brilliant sources of protein-rich veg food in India. They are a good source of calcium, protein, vitamin A, D and B12, phosphorus, and magnesium. Dairy products are essential for maintaining healthy bones, nails, and teeth. Indian raita and fresh cheese (paneer) are some of the popular Indian cuisines which are used in gravy or curry.
- Common dairy food items: Kheer, paneer, Greek yogurt, lactic curd, milk, gulab jamun, ghee, chhena, etc.
- Protein intake: 1 cup of soy milk, 1 cup of yogurt and cheese provides 7 to 13 grams of protein.
6. Fruits and Vegetables
Green-leafy vegetables are plant-based sources of protein which not only provides all the nutritious value to our body but also keeps the body well hydrated and refreshing. These are full of a wide range of nutrients like fiber, potassium, folic acid, niacin, vitamin B6 and C, apart from rich protein content. You can either enjoy them in raw salad form or can prepare a creamy smoothie by blending all the vegetables along.
- Common fruits and vegetables: Apricots, corn, avocado, guava, beetroot, tomato, carrot, amla, banana, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, etc.
- Protein intake: 1 cup of raw apricots or 100 grams of spinach can provide 2-4 grams of protein.
Top Protein-Based Recipes
1. Paneer Tikka:
It is considered one of the most popular dishes cooked by the Vegetarian Indian which is made of paneer.
- 1 tsp Lemon juice
- 1 tsp Pepper powder
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Garam masala
- 1 tsp fennel seed powder
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 4 tsp Oil
- 2 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
- 200 grams Paneer cubes
- 3/4 cup Curd
- 1/3 cup Chickpea flour
- 1 chopped Green Chilli
- Take a bowl and whisk some curd in it.
- Now add ginger garlic paste, chili powder, fennel seeds powder, cumin seed powder, chickpea flour, chili, pepper powder, salt, and some oil and mix them well.
- Then, marinate the paneer cubes in the curd mix for 1 hour.
- Take a grill pan and brush some oil on it and then place the paneer cubes on it till both the sides turn brown.
- Serve the paneer tikka with green chutney.
2. Soya Matar ki Sabzi:
Being a rich source of protein, soy and green peas vegetable is commonly cooked by the Indians by adding loads of spices into it.
- 1/2 tsp Chilli Powder
- ¼ tsp Garam masala
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Cooking oil
- 1-inch Cinnamon
- 2-3 Cloves
- 1 Green chili
- 2 tsp Onion chopped
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig Coriander leaves
- 1 Tomato chopped
- 2 tbsp. Nutella Nuggets
- 1/4 cup Green peas
- Prepare a fine paste of green chilies and tomatoes.
- Now, boil some soy and keep them aside by squeezing all the water from it.
- Then, boil some green peas and keep it aside.
- Take a pan and heat some bay leaf, cloves, cumin seeds, cinnamon, onions and sauté for a few minutes.
- Put some ginger-garlic paste, tomatoes, salt, turmeric, green chili paste, chili powder and cook till the oil starts separating.
- Add peas and soy and cook for 8 minutes.
3. Grilled Tofu:
This recipe is a grilled version of tofu which is enjoyed with onions, tomatoes, and spicy green chutney.
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 sprigs coriander leaves chopped
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tsp pepper powder
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 block firm tofu, drained
- Slice and cut the tofu into cubes.
- Whisk some olive oil, garlic, salt, lime juice, cayenne pepper, coriander, black pepper, chili powder in the bowl.
- Marinate the tofu and put it in a refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Now, grill the tofu on a griddle and marinate it for 15 minutes.
- Serve it hot with green chutney.