10 plant based foods with all essential amino acids (Complete proteins)

Which food is most likely to contain all essential amino acids?  Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are called complete proteins, which are the building blocks of protein that our bodies cannot produce on their own. Complete proteins also assist functions like tissue repair and nutrient absorption. While most plant-based foods are not complete sources of all essential amino acids, there are a few exceptions. These 10 plant-based foods contain all the essential amino acids:

1. Nutritional yeast

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Nutritional yeast is a plant-based food that contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein [1]. It is a great source of protein, fiber, and various essential vitamins and minerals. Nutritional yeast is often used in vegetarian and vegan recipes due to its savory, umami flavor and nutritional benefits. Some key nutritional aspects of nutritional yeast include:

  • High in protein: 2 tablespoons (5 grams) contain 3 grams of protein
  • Rich in B vitamins: Fortified nutritional yeast is especially rich in B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12
  • Good source of trace minerals: These include zinc, selenium, manganese, and molybdenum, which are involved in gene regulation, metabolism, growth, and immunity

Nutritional yeast is a versatile ingredient that can be added to various dishes, such as salads, soups, and even popcorn, to enhance the flavor and nutritional value

However, it is essential to choose fortified nutritional yeast to get the most health benefits, as unfortified varieties may not contain sufficient amounts of certain vitamins and minerals.

2. Quinoa

10 plant based foods with all essential amino acids (Complete proteins)
10 plant based foods with all essential amino acids (Complete proteins) – Image from depositphotos

Quinoa is considered a complete protein source because it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies need to function properly. This superfood boasts an impressive nutritional profile, excelling as a good source of dietary fiber and minerals. Quinoa is gluten-free grain, a versatile ingredient that can be used in salads, side dishes, or as a substitute for rice or couscous. It an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans [2].

3. Buckwheat

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Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is naturally gluten-free. It is a complete protein that provides all essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for those with dietary restrictions. Buckwheat can be used in porridges, pancakes, or as a substitute for rice or noodles[3].

4. Soybeans and Soy Products

10 plant based foods with all essential amino acids (Complete proteins)
Image from depositphotos

Soybeans and soy products like tofu, tempeh, and edamame are popular sources of plant-based protein. These versatile options are complete proteins that offer all essential amino acids. Soy products can be used in stir-fries, soups, sandwiches, or even as dairy substitutes in recipes like tofu scrambles or soy milk [4].

5. Quorn

10 plant based foods with all essential amino acids (Complete proteins)

Quorn is a meat substitute made from mycoprotein, a type of fungi. It is a complete protein that contains all essential amino acids. Quorn products come in various forms like burgers, sausages, and nuggets, making it a convenient option for those seeking plant-based alternatives to meat [5].

6. Chia Seeds

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Chia seeds are small but mighty. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants. Additionally, chia seeds are a complete protein, providing all essential amino acids. These seeds can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, or used as an egg substitute in baking [6].

7. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seed
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Hemp seeds are highly nutritious and packed with essential fatty acids, fiber, and minerals. They are also a complete protein source, containing all essential amino acids. Hemp seeds have a slightly nutty flavor and can be sprinkled on salads, blended into smoothies, or used in baking recipes [7].

8. Spirulina

10 plant based foods with all essential amino acids (Complete proteins)
Image from depositphotos

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that has gained popularity as a nutritional supplement. It is a complete protein that offers all essential amino acids. Spirulina is available in powder or tablet form and can be added to smoothies, juices, or incorporated into energy bars [8].

9. Amaranth

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Amaranth is a gluten-free grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is a complete protein and a good source of fiber and minerals. Amaranth can be cooked and used as a base for salads, soups, or porridges, or ground into flour for baking [9].

10. Pumpkin Seeds

10 plant based foods with all essential amino acids (Complete proteins)
10 plant based foods with all essential amino acids (Complete proteins) – Image from depositphotos

Pumpkin seeds are not only delicious but also a nutrient-dense snack. They contain all essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source. Pumpkin seeds can be roasted and enjoyed as a standalone snack, added to salads, or used as a garnish for soups and stews[10].

Conclusion

Contrary to the belief that plant-based diets lack complete proteins, there are several plant-based foods that provide all essential amino acids. Incorporating these ten complete protein sources, such as Nutritional yeast , quinoa, buckwheat, soy products, chia seeds, hemp seeds, spirulina, amaranth, quorn, and pumpkin seeds, into your meals can help ensure you meet your protein needs while following a plant-based lifestyle. Experiment with these ingredients and enjoy the nutritional benefits they offer.

Note: This article is written based on scientific evidence found by the soundhealthandlastingwealth.com team. Sources are duly referenced and hyperlinked to source websites and are clickable for confirmation.

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