Health and Nutrition

Why Choose Plant-based Complete Proteins?

Gregg Carroll - Thursday, January 24, 2013

Protein is one of the major nutrients required by our bodies that participates in biochemical reactions such as energy production and hormonal functions. Protein is part of every cell, enzyme, and hormone system. Approximately 10,000 different protein molecules form the human body's structural components. It is constantly used for growth, repair and maintenance. The American Heart Association recommends that protein should constitute 15-20% of calories in our daily diet.

Protein is Everywhere

Lysine, an essential amino acid.

Protein is made up of smaller units called amino acids that form the structure of your hair, nails, muscles, cartilage, bones and even blood. A deficiency of this major nutrient manifests itself in excessive hair loss, thinning or brittle hair, skin rashes, ridges in finger and toe nails, feeling weak, muscle soreness, frequent cramps, slow wound healing, sleep issues and depression. Our bodies do not store proteins like they stores carbohydrate or fat, and therefore protein needs to be consumed everyday in the diet.

Nutritional science has identified 21 amino acids - 12 are produced by the body, called "non-essential" amino acids, and 9 that need to be supplied in our diet, called "essential" amino acids. Although most food sources provide protein, not all proteins are created equal. Those foods that provide all 9 essential amino acids in adequate quantities are called complete protein foods. It is generally considered that proteins from animal sources such as eggs, red meat, and dairy are complete protein foods. Although not all plant sources are complete protein foods, certain plant foods like spirulina, hemp, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are all complete protein foods.

What Do Complete Proteins Do?

The 9 essential amino acids work in combination with non-essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals to perform vital functions in our body. These functions are either hindered or incompletely performed in the absence of essential amino acids in our diet. Complete proteins have the following functions in our body:

• They help in synthesis of neurotransmitters

• Maintain muscle health and neuro-muscular co-ordination

• Maintain hormone balance and aid in hormone synthesis

• Essential for cognitive health

• Support body's endogenous antioxidant system

How to Choose a Healthy Complete Protein?

While choosing protein rich foods it is important to consider the other nutrients that come along with them. These include the calories associated with the protein rich food, fats, vitamins, minerals and other nutritionally beneficial compounds. Examples of such healthy protein choices include all plant-based sources, such as grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy. Unlike some animal protein sources such as eggs and milk, plant-based foods are not a source of saturated fat and cholesterol.

For many years, protein from animal sources were preferred due to the presence of both essential and non-essential amino acids. However, a growing body of research in the past decade has shown that protein from plant sources are superior, as they provide relatively more nutrients gram per gram. Furthermore, plant-based proteins are an excellent source for beneficial phytonutrients that have remarkable disease-protecting effects. Nutritionists recommend that consuming a combination of proteins such as beans, legumes, and including a variety of plant-based protein, is key to getting optimal protein in the diet. Research suggests that this combination is not necessarily required to occur in the same meal, but can be consumed in two separate meals on the same day.

Here is a quick snapshot of the advantages of complete proteins from plant-based foods versus the animal foods.

Nutrients Plant Protein Animal Protein
Proteins Provides complete proteins Provides complete proteins
Fats Provide healthy essential fats Provides saturated fats and essential fats that largely depends on the food consumed
Fiber Richest source No fiber
Phytonutrients Richest source No phytonutrients
Carbohydrates Complex carbohydrates and beneficial compounds such as fructo-oligosaccharides No carbohydrates
Calories* Lower in calories, nutrient-dense Generally higher in calories
Cholesterol Plant sterols that lower blood cholesterol High cholesterol source that elevates blood cholesterol
Antioxidants Rich in antioxidants Absence of antioxidants

*Protein always has 4 calories per gram, regardless of its origin;
the carbohydrate (4 calories per gram) and fat (9 calories per gram)
content of the foods make up the rest of the calories.


Health Benefits of Plant-based Proteins

• Protects against heart diseases

• Lowers cholesterol

• Lowers high blood pressure

• Aids in weight management

• May help reduce the risk of most cancers

• Most plant proteins also provide antioxidants and phytonutrients

• They also provide alpha-linoleic acid, one of the essential fats

• Most plant proteins acts as immune boosters

• Aids in maintaining body weight

• Better glycemic index and management of diabetes

Consuming a diet that includes a variety of protein sources such as nuts, seeds, legumes, as well as fruits and vegetables, helps our bodies to get all the essential and non-essential amino acids. At Blue Mountain Organics™ we strive to offer the best of plant proteins in the form of raw nuts, seeds and spouted flours and plant-based protein powders. Our Better Than Roasted™ process maximizes the bioavailability of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in our raw organic nuts, seeds, grains and beans. We begin with the best premium ingredients, and hand sort, soak, rinse, and dry them at a low temperature, not exceeding 108° F, which preserves temperature-sensitive enzymes and nutrients.

Plant-based protein rich recipe:

Quinoa Salad (serves 2)

½ cup Love Raw Foods™ quinoa

1 cup water

½ cup red bell pepper

½ cup yellow pepper

½ cup tomatoes

¾ Love Raw Foods™ black beans, cooked

2 Tbsp. onions

¼ tsp. ground cumin

¼ ground coriander

Salt to taste

juice of lemon, for garnishing

cilantro, for garnishing

1 green chili, slit lengthwise (optional)

black pepper, to taste

Love Raw Foods™ walnuts, chopped, for garnishing

olive oil


Add quinoa to 1 cup of water. Cover and simmer about 10-15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool. Alternatively if you have a rice cooker, you could also use a rice cooker for the same. Combine the rest of the ingredients with a drizzle of olive oil. Add cooled quinoa, salt and pepper to taste. Toss. Serves two.

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