How does the Fiber in Plant-based Protein help you?
The first thought that comes to one’s mind when you think of fiber is raw vegetables typically eaten in the form of salads! Well, while that is true and while vegetables being a great source of fiber, there are other foods that when eaten along with vegetables, would increase not only the fiber but also the protein content and make a nutritionally dense and well-balanced meal that can also be consumed by vegans and vegetarians. These foods are naturally high in plant-based proteins and are very nutritious. Now let us look at some of the best plant-based protein foods, which are a very good source of fiber too.
To begin with, lentils, ancient grains like millet and grains like quinoa, all are high in plant-based proteins, as well as rich in digestible fiber. When these grains and lentils are sprouted, it increases the digestibility of the food even further. Therefore, it is always a good idea to soak the grains and lentils overnight and let them sprout for a day or two. Sprouting increases the levels of amino acids and hence makes the food highly nutritious. If you choose the right types of grains and lentils in your diet, then you would not need to spend a huge amount of dollars in looking for the best plant-based protein powders. You can find them in your everyday foods itself.
A key benefit of plant-based protein comes in the form of its high fiber content. For example, if you were to incorporate just one cup of cooked lentils into a meal, you would be consuming 16 grams of fiber which is about half the recommended amount of fiber that we need to consume. Lentil and Rice Bowls (a.k.a. khichdi) is one such food that is not only high in plant-based proteins, but also rich in dietary fibers. Khichdi lentil and rice bowl variety pack is an Indian comfort food and is super easy to digest.
Now you may be asking why this is important. What is the big deal if plant-based proteins have a lot of fiber?
What is fiber?
Before we begin to understand the benefits of fiber, we must first understand what fiber is and the way in which it interacts with our body. To start out we can split fiber into two broad categories of soluble and insoluble fiber.
- Soluble fiber: as the name suggests, this type of fiber is dissolvable in water which also allows it to be metabolized in the gut by the “good bacteria” that is present
- Insoluble fiber: does not dissolve in water but is highly beneficial in promoting bowel health and regulating digestive functions.
Now that we have understood the overarching functions of fiber, we can delve deeper into its benefits and the way they are so accessible in plant-based proteins.
What are the benefits of fiber in plant-based proteins?
Fiber can assist in weight loss: Fiber can help in weight loss by making you “feel” full and thereby reducing your appetite. Soluble fiber does so by the way in which it alters the absorption of nutrients. This is because this fiber functions in a way that allows it to absorb the excess water in the intestine which allows nutrients to be absorbed slowly, increasing the feeling of fullness for a longer period.
Great for digestive health: Insoluble fibers have a lot of roughage and therefore increases the movement of food through the digestive tract. It thereby helps in bowel movements and eliminating the waste from the body. There are a lot of foods that are rich in insoluble fibers, such as whole wheat foods, seeds, nuts, as well as the skin of certain vegetables and fruits, and specially prunes. Prunes are often used to cure constipation. Lentils, mung beans, quinoa, millet, besides being a very good source of plant-based proteins, are some foods that are also high in fiber and would support digestive health because of their high fiber content.
Heart-healthy: Soluble fiber is also effective in reducing cholesterol levels as well as blood pressure and inflammation. This is more prevalent the more viscous the fiber is. The leading cause of heart disease comes from the high levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, that people consume which causes clogged arteries and high blood pressure levels. Often times this form of cholesterol is found in animal protein which also makes plant protein so much more desirable and healthier. Soluble fiber is able to bind with the bile in the body which contains this harmful cholesterol and excrete it rather than allowing it to cause lasting damage.
- Aids in preventing colon cancer: Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Fiber is also highly effective in helping to take preventative measures to reduce the risks of colon cancer. This is due to the fact that it helps food move through the digestive system in a healthy and quick manner which limits the time that any carcinogens have the chance to cause damaging effects to overall colon health.
Good sources of plant-based proteins and fiber:
- Mung Beans
- Whole grains
To conclude, plant-based proteins are a powerhouse of rich proteins and are high in fiber. Just one thing to be kept in mind is that they need to be combined with a grain to make it a complete first-class protein. Its very simple to do so. Just mix a lentil with rice or grain with millet, and you are good to go. There is nothing but pure goodness in adding these to your meals!
Stay safe, Stay healthy!