(Baptist Health) – When you think of protein foods, you might think of meat first. But plants have protein too. That’s good news if you’re looking to improve, for example, your heart health by eating less meat. Now, there’s more good news for plant lovers: A plant-rich diet may help cut your risk of dying from dementia too.
Researchers looked at data from more than 100,000 postmenopausal women in their 50s, 60s and 70s. The participants answered questions about the types and amounts of protein they ate. Their findings, reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association: Compared to those who ate the least plant protein, those who ate the most from sources like tofu, nuts, beans and peas had a 21% lower risk of dying from dementia. They also had a 12% lower risk of death from heart and blood vessel disease and a 9% lower risk of dying from any cause.
U.S. dietary guidelines call for eating a wide variety of foods, including many different sources of proteins, such as lean meats and poultry, eggs, seafood and plant-based sources.
Delicious ways to plate up more plant protein
It might be easier than you think to incorporate more plant-based protein in your diet. Good sources include tofu, nuts, beans, lentils, mushrooms and peas. Even asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, corn, potatoes, peppers, spinach, sweet potatoes and turnip greens can supply a good amount, the American Heart Association reports.
Need some inspiration? Here are a few plant protein powerhouses to give a try:
- Whole-grain burritos with pinto or black beans and brown rice, plus tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, low-fat cheese and nonfat sour cream.
- Baked enchiladas filled with black beans, mushrooms, enchilada sauce, onions, tomatoes and olives.
- Soups made with split peas, lentils or beans.
- Spicy, homemade curry featuring garbanzo beans (chickpeas).
- Pitas spread with hummus and filled with crisp veggies like lettuce, red onions and sliced cucumber.
- Stir-fry with tofu squares and colorful veggies, like green peas, bell peppers and carrots.
- Quinoa salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, lime juice and feta cheese.
Ready to learn more about the health benefits of plant-based eating? Check out our guide to vegetarian diets.