PhotoProtein is an essential part of every person’s diet. While most of us get this vital nutrient through eating meat, vegetarians and vegans have to acquire it through alternative methods. Many food experts are now saying that algae, quinoa, and pulses are the next best available sources of protein.

Choosing to eat algae, quinoa, and pulses over other forms of protein comes with several advantages. Eating these foods cuts down significantly on food waste, which is a big problem when it comes to eating meat or other foods that spoil quickly. Their preparation allows them to be much less processed as well, which contributes to the overall health of those who eat them.

Great variety of options

Algae is becoming a preferred protein source for vegans, since it has a greatly reduced carbon footprint and provides comparable protein to other vegan favorites, such as rice or soy. The total composition of algae consists of 63% protein, 15% fiber, 11% lipids, 4% carbohydrates, 4% micronutrients, and 3% moisture. These numbers indicate that algae is a food that is rich in nutrients and very healthy.

Some consumers may be cautious to eat algae, but food scientist Beata Klamczynska explains that people are slowly beginning to recognize how good it can be. “Are consumers ready for algae as an ingredient? Yes, they are ready and excited about algae…The more they learn, the more excited they get. Just a little education eliminates any doubts….There are thousands of algae strains to choose from for a variety of products,” she said.

Like algae, quinoa and pulses also exist in many different forms. There are currently over 1,400 quinoa products on the market, all of which are rich in protein. “Pulses” is just a general term that encompasses legumes, beans, chickpeas, and lentils, and the number of these products is also large. According to Anusha Samaranayaka, who is a scientist at POS Bio-Sciences, pulses are known to be high in protein, vegetarian, gluten-free, non-allergenic, non-GMO, and sustainable.

Supplementing any of these different foods into your diet is a great way to increase your protein intake. A presentation on these three foods was recently shown at IFT15, which is hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago. 

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