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Plant-Powered Protein – Mix Them Up!

Plant-Powered Protein – Mix Them Up!

By Sian Porter, Merchant Gourmet Consultant nutritionist, registered dietitian

Protein is needed in the body for growth, repair and renewal. Protein also provides energy (4kcal per g). Protein is found in every cell in the body making up about 20% of our body weight. Protein plays a vital role in the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs including the immune system, blood, muscles, bones, hair, skin, nails. Protein cannot be stored like fat or carbohydrate and is needed to be eaten daily in adequate amounts.

The amount of protein needed depends on our age, lifestyle and health and changes over a lifetime. Healthy adults (19-50 years) should aim for around 1g protein per kg bodyweight per day. Babies and young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women have extra requirements as do older people and athletes. People with medical conditions may need more or less.

Protein in the diet can come from animal or plant sources. Plant sources include beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, soya and soya products such as tofu, Quorn and wholegrains including quinoa, wheat berries and rice.

The building blocks of protein are amino acids. Different proteins contain different amounts and combinations of amino acids. Some amino acids can be made in the body but some, known as essential amino acids, cannot so we need to eat foods that contain them to provide them in our diet. If foods contain all nine amino acids they are called ‘complete proteins’ which in plant terms are quinoa, buckwheat and soya. Eating a variety of plant proteins will provide these nine essential amino too e.g. rice and lentils, seeds and quinoa, rice and beans so you don’t only have to eat those complete sources of plant protein.

A variety of protein foods should be spread throughout the day and included at each meal and snack. For example:



Breakfast bowl, wholegrains,, yogurt, banana, healthy breakfast

tropical breakfast bowl recipe with fortified soya yogurt.



Merchant Gourmet Red Rainbow Salad, salad recipe, quinoa recipe, lentil recipe, lunch recipe, beetroot recipe, quick lunch recipe, easy lunch recipe, healthy lunch recipe, vegan lunch recipe, vegetarian lunch recipe, persian lunch recipe, kilner jar, quick and easy lunch, healthy recipe, healthy salad, merchant gourmet, grains, pulses, lentils, quinoa, beetroot, radish, pepper

A wholesome red rainbow salad with Persian quinoa & lentils recipe.



chilli, lentil chilli, vegan chilli, vegan recipe, quick vegan dinner, how to cook lentils, lentil chilli recipe

Try this hearty Beluga black bean chilli dish.


Apart from being kinder to our planet, the advantage of plant protein sources is they are low in salt, low in fat and saturated fat, often high in fibre too and provide key nutrients that many people think you only find in animal proteins such as iron (beans and lentils) and zinc (wholegrains). Plant protein sources are packed with bioactive phytochemicals including antioxidants which help to look after your health including, along with fibre, your gut health.

When it comes to protein, plant proteins can hold their own and pack a punch. It’s your choice but for the planet and for health we should all try and eat plant proteins whether it’s for ‘meat free Monday’ or as a flexitarian or 100% plant based. Just remember to eat them regularly as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, choose a variety, mix them up and add plenty of vegetables and fruit.

By Sian Porter, Merchant Gourmet Consultant nutritionist, registered dietitian

Sian Porter Merchant Gourmet Nutritionist, merchant Gourmet, Nutritionist