Nutrition Nook: Protein, in all its forms

Protein is an essential nutrient that our body needs to grow and repair our body’s tissues. Protein is found in a wide variety of food products, and it is important we are meeting our daily requirements based on our weight, gender, age and health.

Protein is found in many foods (not just animal meats) and we can easily meet our protein needs by consuming a wide range of vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Here are some protein sources listed below:

  • Lean meats – beef, lamb, and kangaroo
  • Poultry – chicken and turkey
  • Seafood – fish, prawns, and mussels
  • Eggs
  • Legumes – all beans, lentils, chickpeas, and tofu
  • Dairy – yoghurt, milk, cheese
  • Grains and Cereals– wild rice, oats Nuts and Seeds – almonds, chia seeds
  • Vegetables – broccoli, spinach, asparagus

As a university student, ensuring we are getting a wide range of proteins is important for our overall health and wellbeing, however, animal meats at the supermarket are increasing in price. It is valuable to understand how we can add a wide range of protein into our diets from plant-based sources which also gives us a good source of non-haem iron (a type of iron derived from plants).  

How to add more plant-based protein to your diet:

  1. Add nuts and seeds to your meals – sprinkling a wide range of slivered almonds, chopped cashews or a handful of sunflower seeds in salads or as a garnish on pasta
  2. Legumes – using a wide range of lentils, split peas, cannellini beans, or chickpeas in soups, curries, and in pasta sauces.
  3. Tofu – using silken tofu is a great way to add protein to pasta sauces by blending it with a range of herbs, spices, vegetables, and milk in a blender to make a thick and creamy sauce
  4. Oats – making homemade muesli or granola for toppings on Greek yoghurt is a great way to get an extra protein boost in our diet
  5. Check out Chaden’s recipe for their ‘falafel salad’ on our Nutrition at La Trobe website. Falafel offers a good source of protein using chickpeas as the foundation.

Note: Sources of non-haem iron such as plant-based proteins are not as easily absorbed by the body as haem iron which can be found in animal-based products such as beef and pork.  

B12 and Veganism:  

Vitamin B12 is essential for red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis and the functioning of our central nervous system. Although plant-based sources of protein such as legumes and tofu can meet our protein needs, they lack vitamin B12. Vegans are usually advised to supplement with Vitamin B12*.

*Before taking any nutritional supplements speak with your general practitioner.  

Need some more inspiration?

Try out fellow student Chanden’s other recipes for some delicious and healthy recipes to get you inspired in the kitchen. Visit the Nutrition at La Trobe website.

Check out our previous article about breakfast!

Source: Better Health Victoria – Protein