There is a general misconception that a vegetarian diet lacks proteins. In this article we discuss how can make sure that your child gets enough protein, even on a vegetarian diet.
By Ashwin Dewan
Do you often worry about your child's protein intake? Do you think being vegetarian may result in your child getting less protein than required? Fortunately, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, you can ensure that your child gets enough protein from certain protein-rich foods.
Proteins are made up of 22 building blocks called amino acids. Of these, nine are essential and because our body cannot make them, they have to come from our diet. Even if your child is a vegetarian, she can get all the protein she needs by following a well-planned vegetarian diet.
Some protein-rich vegetarian foods for include:
Are lentils a daily part of your diet? Does your child love chickpeas? Legumes are rich in protein and should be a daily part of your child’s diet. Legumes such as green peas, soybeans and kidney beans are used every day in Indian dishes. You can also make hummus, from chickpeas, which is a great source of protein for vegetarians.
Note: Legumes are often considered incomplete proteins. Having them with white rice forms a complete protein diet. For example, beans are one type of legumes. One benefit of consuming beans and grains like white rice is the amino acids they provide. Both beans and grains are incomplete proteins as they lack some essential amino acids. However, together they complement each other.
Tofu is made from soybean curds. It is naturally gluten-free and low in calories. It is also a rich source of amino acids, iron, calcium and other nutrients. Tofu contains eight essential amino acids and is makes for excellent vegetarian food from a nutritional and health perspective. Tofu can be integrated with almost all types of dishes and flavours. A half cup of tofu contains about 10 grams of dietary protein.
Note: People who are allergic to soya should stay away from tofu.
Does your child love to munch on nuts? Let her, because nuts such as peanuts, cashewnuts, almonds and walnuts contain a significant amount of protein. Just a handful of these nuts can provide a quick protein boost. A single almond contains almost 0.25 grams of protein. So, adding as little as 10 almonds to your diet can provide your daily dose of required protein. Nuts are also low in saturated fat and high in dietary fibre.
Note: Eat a limited quantity of nuts every day. Eating too much may lead to weight gain, digestion problems, and muscle and joint ache.
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A glass of milk provides more than just calcium. Milk contains two types of protein: whey (20 per cent) and casein (80 per cent). Both are high-quality proteins that contain essential amino acids.
Other dairy foods such as yogurt and cheese are also excellent sources of protein.
Note: Paneer, commonly used to prepare vegetarian dishes in Indian cuisine, contains about 7 grams of protein per ounce.
Stone fruits with a creamy texture, avocados are a rich source of protein. A single medium-sized avocado contains an average of 7 grams of protein. One avocado has an amino acid score of 129, which indicates that it is a high-quality protein.
Note: Avocado is also known as the alligator pear or butter fruit and is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA).
The most important source of protein for your child is through the food she eats. Go through this ClipBook to understand the importance of protein in a child’s diet.
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