Studies have shown that women who consume more high-protein foods, especially plant-based protein, have lower blood pressure as well as stronger blood vessels. These are both factors in maintaining cardiovascular health. It is often difficult, however, to get enough protein from plants.
Adding protein powder is a partial solution, but many of those are filled with artificial additives and sugar. Here are some healthy ways to boost protein intake.
1. Add almond meal to oatmeal.
Oats are a great healthy breakfast, especially in the winter. A bowl of oatmeal has just four grams of protein, but you can add another five grams by adding a quarter-cut of ground almonds. Fine ground almonds blend right in, or use coarse ground nuts for additional texture. For extra flavor, mix in chopped fruit or cinnamon.
2. Trade in tofu for tempeh.
Rather than eating tofu, which has 20 grams of protein, opt for tempeh, which delivers 30 grams. Tempeh also contains B-complex vitamins that help you metabolize protein and other nutrients. Tempeh has the additional advantage of being fermented, and less processed than tofu.
3. Exchange wheat and rice for quinoa.
Quinoa is an exceptional source of protein, with a full 8 grams per cut. By comparison, brown rice has just 5 grams of protein per cut. Also, unlike other grains, quinoa is a complete protein. It provides all of the essential amino acids, including seven vital to heart health.
You can use quinoa in place of other grains in a variety of dishes. There is also pasta and bread made from quinoa.
4. Put almond butter or spirulina in your smoothie.
Many people put protein powder in smoothies, but if you add 2 tablespoons of almond butter instead, you’ll gain 7 grams of protein as well as minerals like manganese, which helps to digest protein. Or, if you aren’t in the mood for almond butter, try spirulina. Just a tablespoon adds 4 grams of protein, plus iron and copper.
5. Select higher-protein green veggies.
Greens are packed with nutrition such as vitamin C, antioxidants and beta-carotene. But some green veggies are also high in protein. For example, a cup of green peas has nearly 9 grams of protein. Cooked spinach and collard greens have 5 grams. A cup of roasted Brussels sprouts offers 4 grams.
6. Sprinkle hemp seeds on everything.
Hemp seeds are delicious and slightly crunchy. With 10 grams of protein contained in 3 tablespoons, they’re a great source of protein. In addition, they are high in omega-3 fatty acids and contain lots of fiber. Put them on salads or cereal, add them to muffins, or puree them into hummus or homemade salad dressings.
7. Add almonds to pureed soups.
Pureed soups are warm and comforting in cold weather, and they do double duty as a detox staple. Blend some almonds into soups to add creamy texture and extra proteins. Just soak a cup of the nuts in water overnight, and add them to soup before blending. One cup of almonds has 30 grams of very high-quality protein.