The real question is: Do we find animal proteins to be superior and plant proteins to be inferior? We’ve all heard that plant protein is “incomplete” compared to meat protein and that plant foods have to be carefully combined to make a “complete” protein. But that’s just an urban legend that was never based on science. The American Dietetic Association abandoned that idea decades ago. “Regarding the myth of “complete’ proteins,” it is unnecessary to meticulously think we must combine various plant-based sources of protein to be complete. Surprise! The body combines them for you.
As Virginia Messina, R.D., has written: “Myths about amino acid shortages and food combining were put to rest decades ago by experts and researchers in protein nutrition. “Every plant food” that provides protein contains all of the essential amino acids that are needed for humans.” So even if we never touched meat, we can get all the amino acids we need from beans, vegetables and fruits.
Susan Havala Hobbs, Ph.D, R.D. describes how the ADA discarded the protein combining idea: “There was no basis for [protein combining] that I could see…. I began calling around and talking to people and asking them what the justification was for saying that you had to complement proteins, and there was none. And what I got instead was some interesting insight from people who were knowledgeable and actually felt that there was probably no need to complement proteins. So we went ahead and made that change in the paper. [The paper was approved by peer review and by a delegation vote before becoming official.] And it was a couple of years after Vernon Young and Peter Pellet published their paper that became the definitive contemporary guide to protein metabolism in humans. And it also confirmed that complementing proteins at meals was totally unnecessary.” (Vegetarianism: Movement or Moment?, p. 38.)
Dennis Gordon, M.Ed, R.D.: “Complementing proteins is not necessary with vegetable proteins. The myth that vegetable source proteins need to be complemented is similar to the myths that persist about sugar, making one’s blood glucose go up faster than starch does. These myths have great staying power despite their being no evidence to support them and plenty to refute them.”
Here are a few sources plant-based proteins:
According to Brian Clement at Hippocrates Institute in Florida, “wheatgrass (a superfood) contain over seventeen amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.
One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 9.35 grams of protein.
One ounce raw organic almonds contains about 6.03 grams of protein.
One fourth cup of “dry organic (gluten-free) steel-cut oats” has about 7 grams of protein.
One cup of chopped broccoli contains about 5.7 grams of protein.
One cup cooked spinach has about 5.35 grams of protein.
Eight spears of asparagus has 3.08 grams of protein.
One cup of Mung beans contains 3.16 grams of protein. Paul Pitchford writes about the power of mung beans in his book “Healing with Whole Foods.” Mung beans can be used for food poisoning, diarrhea, painful urination, lead and pesticide poisoning.
One cup cooked cauliflower contains 2.28 grams of protein and a truckload of nutrients.
One cup avocado contains 2.9 grams of protein.
Split peas and lentils have as much as 28 grams of protein, which is similar to a serving of meat.
Hemp and chia seeds are also complete proteins.
Some say animals, eggs and rBGH dairy are the only sources of complete proteins, however we now know they are found inferior to plant-based sources. Any one consuming these may want to view the way the protein source is produced. (with or without pesticides or the way chickens are caged) Cage-free is only about 1 hour a day. Grass-fed is about the same.
Research has found that protein in organic fruits and vegetables are not linked to the health problems related to disrupted hormones and poor gut microbiome, found in processed meat and dairy products.
Vegetables average around 22% protein by calorie. Plant foods easily supply our protein needs. The truth is that if we’re eating food, we’re eating protein and almost certainly more than enough.
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Connie Rogers is a Certified Integrative Nutritional Holistic Health Coach
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Common vegetables have much more protein than you need, and contrary to popular myth, they’re complete proteins as well. The McDougall Plan, John A. McDougall, M.D., (1983) pp. 98-100