Although plant proteins form a large part of the human diet, most are deficient in 1 or more essential amino acids and are therefore regarded as incomplete proteins, as reported by the
A plant-based or vegan diet is one of the healthiest and environmentally conscious ways of living. However, it does require extra attention with regard to the nutrients that need to be consumed for the body to function normally.
One of these is Amino Acids.
What Are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are often referred to as the building blocks of life. There are around 20 amino acids in existence, out of which nine are the most essential. These nine amino acids cannot be produced by the body, while the other 11 can (in most cases). Amino acids are responsible for various bodily functions like breaking down food, growth, and repairing body tissue, and more. Human bodies cannot function properly without amino acids, which is why they are absolutely necessary to be present in one form or another.
9 Essential Amino Acids And How To Get Them On A Plant-Based Diet
Animal product are the most common sources of amino acids. They're known as complete proteins because they consist of all the essential amino acids. The same cannot be said for plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, grains and veggies are considered incomplete proteins because they are missing one or more of the essential amino acids.
Here are the nine essential amino acids and how to get them while on a plant-based diet
Histidine is responsible for producing histamine, which is a neurotransmitter that is crucial to generating an immune response, sexual function and regulating sleep-wake cycles. It is also important for maintaining 'myelin sheath,' which is a protective barrier that surrounds nerve cells. Plant-based foods such as rice, quinoa, cauliflower, buckwheat are excellent sources of histidine.
Lysine is one of the rarest amino acids to be found in plant-based food. Lysine is responsible for producing collagen and elastin as well as absorbing calcium and producing enzymes. Lysine is most commonly found in spinach, kale, watercress, romaine lettuce and grains like quinoa along with other plant-based food items like lentils, black bean and tempeh.
3 & 4. Isoleucine And Leucine
Isoleucine and leucine are important amino acids to help regulate muscle function. Isoleucine is an integral part of muscle metabolism. Both Isoleucine and leucine are commonly found in quinoa, buckwheat, soy and also found in lentils and black beans.
Methionine is the type of amino acid that's best taken in moderation and thanks to a plant-based diet, and it's incredibly easy to achieve. Methionine is responsible for metabolism, detoxification, tissue growth. Methionine can be found in plant-based food items such as oats, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, along with quinoa and buckwheat flour.
Phenylalanine is the forerunner for tyrosine, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine and other essential neurotransmitters. The most common sources of phenylalanine are nuts and legumes. Chickpeas, beans, and lentils contain roughly 400 mg per serving. Phenylalanine is also commonly found in buckwheat, quinoa, soybean flour, etc.
Threonine is responsible for forming collagen and elastin, which are essential for the structural integrity of bones and skin. Threonine is also essential for fat metabolism. Threonine is easily found in various soy products such as soya beans and nuts like almonds and pistachios. Kidney beans, lentils, chia seeds, flax seeds are also good sources for Threonine.
Tryptophan is essential to maintain nitrogen balance in the body. It is also important for regulating appetite and sleep. The best plant-based source for tryptophan includes pumpkin and sunflower seeds, cashews, walnuts, and almonds, peanuts, split peas, lentils, kidney beans, and black beans.
Valine is responsible for muscle regrowth and also energy production. Watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds are high in valine concentration. One can also find valine in beans and lentils.
When maintaining a plant based diet, it is important to make sure you are eating foods that will provide you with the essential amino acids. Amino acids are called the building blocks of life for a reason. They are needed for vital processes like the building of proteins and the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters.
Creating plant-based products that are nutritionally complete with all the essential amino acids is at the core of what we do - it's why we are called Amino Mantra. The ingredients in our patties are selected, not only to taste good but to provide all the essential amino acids in one meal. This makes it easy to maintain a healthy plant-based diet.