For everyone from vegans to hardcore fitness pros, plant protein is a hot topic lately—and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down.
Plant protein can provide powerful cardiovascular health benefits, according to Advances in Nutrition. But that’s not all: A study published by Bratislava Medical Journal showed that plant protein may also help protect against the development of some chronic degenerative diseases.
Vegans, vegetarians, or anyone eating on the low end of their protein needs have a ton of options when it comes to high-quality plant protein. Here are six ways to get your fix:
Lentils have long been praised as a delicious and versatile starch, filled with necessary carbs and fiber. They blend well into thick soups and taste delicious when cooked with your favorite spices or used as a salad topping. And, according to new studies in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, lentil-based diets may offer some serious cardiovascular benefits.
Everyone raves about chia—and it deserves the hype! The super-seed packs two grams of protein per tablespoon, and with a complete essential amino acid profile, it’s also great for maintaining nail, skin, and bone health. Not to mention, it boasts a pretty decent soluble fiber content of 2.5 grams per cup.
Quinoa has become a tasty staple for a lot of us, but its health benefits are just as impressive as its versatility in the kitchen. It’s gluten-free, high in protein (eight grams per cup) and, like chia seeds, has all the essential amino acids, making it a “complete” protein.
The superfood spirulina, an all-natural algae, is full of omega-6, beta-carotene, linoleic acid, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and chlorophyll, so it’s no wonder it’s turning up in everyone’s smoothies.
Just a tablespoon of spirulina powder contains two grams of protein. Spirulina lovers boast of its benefits and science backs it up: According to Cardiovascular Therapeutics, spirulina offers up antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, while the phycocyanin contained within it comes with a whole set of its own set of benefits (primarily around supporting cardiovascular health, like maintaining healthy vascular function).
While most of us are familiar with tofu, you may not have tried tempeh. It’s a fermented soybean, so not only does it give you all the hefty protein you’re looking for (18 grams of protein per 100 grams of tempeh), it also offers up probiotic benefits. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tempeh contains soy isoflavones that support healthy cholesterol levels.
6. Plant Protein Powders & Bars
Plant protein powders offer an easy-to-whip-up way to get the nutrients you need, while bars are perfect if you’re always on the go. Whether you want to make a smoothie or nosh on a quick snack, there are plenty of powders and bars to choose from.
Related: Shop plant protein products.