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Pcos |  Debjani M Arora
10 best sources of Plant-Based Protein that you should know
February 03, 2022

Wondering how to up your protein intake being a vegetarian? We got this food list curated especially for you. Read on. 


Proteins are essential for us as they are considered to be the building blocks of our body. They are made of amino acids that are needed for cell growth and repair. Almost every organ of the body needs protein to thrive and function. Lack of protein in the diet can lead to muscle loss, low muscle density, fatigue and tiredness, all of which can impact one’s lives significantly. 


The case of missing proteins 


A study published in Indian Medical Gazette in April 2015 stated that 9 out of 10 people had protein-deficiency regardless of gender or socioeconomic status. It wasn't surprising to see that most vegetarians were in the category of protein-deficit dieters. 


For people who eat meat and fish, getting the requisite amount of protein through diet might not be difficult, but for vegetarians to meet their daily protein requirements, would need some effort - proper diet planning and choosing the right kind of food. 


Given that the more significant chunk of the Indian population is vegetarian, protein deficiency becomes a national-diet concern. No, we aren’t telling people to start eating meat to rectify this diet deficiency. Instead, we are here to help you make the right choices. Most vegetarians or non-meat eaters depend on plant-based protein sources to meet their requirements. 


Here is the list of plant-based protein foods you can rely on:


Lentils: No Indian thali can be complete without a bowl of cooked lentil or daal (moong, massor, tuar, etc) on the sides. They are highly nutritious and a good source of protein. Lentils come with their fair share of fibre and other minerals too. So apart from imparting protein, they also help you beat constipation and promote healthy bacteria in the gut. You can have your bowl of lentils with rotis or rice. To ensure you get enough protein, try having two bowls of lentils if there aren't any other protein sources in your diet. 


Legumes: They are powerhouses of protein - rajma, chole, channa, lobia - are great choices to include in your diet for your protein requirements. Regular consumption of legumes can help to lower cholesterol levels and keep the heart healthy. You can choose legume for a curry dish or toss a handful of them into a salad. 


Soy and soy-based products: In the recent past, this humble food made a lot of noise in the food industry and was noticed for its protein value. It becomes an excellent protein choice for vegetarians. Other soy-based products are also considered to be a good source of protein. Soy milk especially makes an excellent choice for people who are lactose intolerant and can’t digest dairy. Fortified soy milk also comes with traces of Vitamin B12, D and calcium.


Quinoa: It is not a staple Indian food but is catching up in the Indian markets these days. It is often termed as a superfood. High in protein, it is great for people with diabetes as it also contains fibre and complex carbohydrates,  justifying its superfood tag. 


Dried fruits and nuts: Munching on a handful of different nuts - almonds, cashew nuts, pecan nuts, walnuts - can give you a protein boost and help you get a part of your daily protein requirement. They are not just good sources of protein but dietary fibre and Vitamin E too. They are known as brain boosters and are good for heart health. Go munch on them.  


Vegetables: Green vegetables are not prime sources of protein, but they contain some traces. Including vegetables like spinach, broccoli and fenugreek can ensure you get some protein in your diet.  


Fruits: Again, like vegetables, fruits too aren’t a reliable source of protein. But some berries, banana and guava have traces of protein in them. However, don’t rely on fruits to get your daily share of protein. Eat a balanced diet instead.  


Oats: The reason oats became an instant Indian breakfast favourite is because they are rich in soluble fibre and help relieve constipation and other bowel problems. But they, too, have a good amount of protein in them. You can try various recipes like oats khichdi or patties if the combination of milk and oats isn’t appetising for you.  


Millets: You can replace a bowl of quinoa with millets - jowar, bajra or ragi - the end result is a good amount of protein in your plate. Of course, they are a good source of complex carbohydrates too. But you cannot undermine the protein value of millets. 


Seeds: Sunflower seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds are excellent sources of proteins. You can toss them into your salads or curries to reap their benefits.   


The bottom line: While protein should be an essential part of your diet, too much protein can be harmful to some of your organs, like the kidneys. Remember, you need 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight. Try not to go beyond that limit and plan your diet accordingly. 


Here is a table that can help you in planning your diet 

Plant Sources

Portion Size

Protein (gm)

Soya Bean, White

1/2 Cup


Soya Bean, Brown

1/2 Cup


Green Gram, Dal

1/2 Cup


Bengal Gram Dal

1/2 Cup


Peas, Dry (Vatana)

1/2 Cup


Rajmah, Red

1/2 Cup


Rajmah, Brown

1/2 Cup


Rajmah, Black

1/2 Cup





Wheat, Whole

1/2 Cup


Agathi Leaves

100 Gm


Rice (Milled)

1/2 Cup


Watermelon Seeds (Kernal)



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