A vegetarian diet: combining plant proteins
Plant-based foods are described as incomplete sources of protein as (with the exception of soya beans and soya bean products) they contain insufficient amounts of one or more essential amino acids.
These plant-based foods can be combined to form good-quality protein, however, because different essential amino acids are missing from each food source.
Pulses (including soya bean products) should form the basis of your main meal. Simply add a grain and/or a seed or nut, and the meal will provide good-quality protein.
Alternatively, make sure you eat something from each of these groups over each 12-hour period to ensure that all the amino acids have been included in your diet.
|Meal idea||Pulse||Grain||Seeds and nuts|
|Lentil, courgette, and sesame patties
|Hummus with pitta bread
|Spicy bean soup with corn bread
|Vegetable and chickpea couscous
|Tofu and vegetable stir-fry with nuts
||Soya beans (tofu)||Rice||Cashew nuts|
|Crostini with canellini beans
|Quick vegetable couscous with tofu||Soya beans (tofu)||Wheat||–|
- Choose whole grains or foods with naturally occurring vitamins.
- Select fortified or whole-grain breakfast cereals.
- Don't rely too heavily on cheese or other dairy products as they can be high in saturated fat.
- If you eat dairy products, choose low- or reduced-fat varieties.
- Eat foods containing vitamin C with meals in order to improve iron absorption.
- Have one to two servings of a good source of iron every day, for example eggs or red kidney beans.
- Strict vegans should include a good source of vitamin B12 daily, such as a fortified cereal, fortified soya drink, or a supplement.
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