An important article on protein and as always, well done by Karen Knowler.
"Where Do You Get Your Protein?"
By far, and you probably know it as well as I do, one of the most common questions you will be asked when you dabble with raw foods is: "Sounds great, but... where do you get your protein? "
Well, I have known for years that to become protein deficient on ANY diet can take some doing (although isn't impossible), but on a raw diet there are some interesting surprises when it comes to discovering what has a little and what has a lot.
Read on for the facts and figures that will either help you to feel at peace with your raw diet or help you make some positive changes.
First of all, let's be clear that we are not eating protein per se, but amino acids which combine together to create protein. So as long as we are eating a good quantity and quality of food (ideally organic as standard) and eat a wide variety of foods in the necessary amounts, then our protein needs should be more than adequately met.
There are 22 amino acids that our body needs to thrive - or at least that is what science has identified to date (we must always remember that nutrition is not yet a complete science and may well never be). Eight of these are termed "essential amino acids" because the body cannot manufacture them itself and therefore needs to obtain them from food. In a raw vegan diet, the best and most concentrated sources of amino acids come from those food groups listed below, although protein is present in every living thing, so not getting enough, while not impossible, is generally difficult!
Green Leafy Vegetables ~ Nuts ~ Seeds ~ Sprouted Grains ~ Sprouted Beans
And some good examples of foods from each of these food groups are:
Spinach, kale, broccoli, sprouted wild rice, carob, cacao, oats, raisins, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds (linseed), sprouted wheat, sprouted buckwheat, sprouted soya beans, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, hemp seeds, hemp protein powder (excellent), sprouted quinoa, mung beans, lentils, aduki, chickpeas etc, bee pollen, spirulina, E3 Live, Pure Synergy, maca, avocado, and many more - so plenty of choice!
If you eat dairy produce, the cleanest source widely available in the UK that I currently know of is Emmental Organic Cheese which is available in the organic dairy section in Tesco. This is unpasteurised cheese so is a raw food, but not vegan.
Raw Protein Facts & Figures
The RDA of protein for an adult female is cited as being somewhere between 45g and 50g per day, with an additional 25g required when breastfeeding. For adult males the figures cited stretches between 45g and 65g per day, depending on who you listen to. More protein is needed by those especially active or athletes.
Our bodies recycle approximately 80% of our protein; cooked protein is denatured and largely unusable, thus our protein need may very well be far lower than what is taught by conventional dietetics.
35g of bee pollen can satisfy one man's protein requirements for a whole day - it contains more protein per gram than meat or fish.
High Protein Content Vegan Raw Foods
1 cup sprouted lentils = 49g
1 cup haricot beans (navy) = 46g
1 cup sprouted aduki beans (adzuki) = 39g
1 cup broad beans (fava) = 39g
1 cup sprouted black eye beans (cowpea) = 39g
1 cup sprouted chickpeas = 38g
1 cup peanuts = 37g
1 cup pumpkin seeds = 33g
1 cup sunflower seeds = 32g
1 cup almonds = 28g
1 cup oats = 26g
1 cup sprouted wheat = 21g
The key, as you can see, is to ideally eat sprouts every day - especially if you are trying to eat low fat - and to eat lots of greens (which are about 1-2g protein per cup) with them. An avocado - most raw fooders great love - offers 4g of protein per fruit, not great, but it all adds up. (Many raw fooders eat 3+ avocadoes per day, which equates to a quarter of an individuals protein needs before anything else has even been eaten.)
My final and potentially most useful piece of advice for this short piece is to visit www.fitday.com. Here you can enter what you have eaten in a day and get a reading for the fat, protein, carbs and calories eaten that day. It also shows you what percentage of your daily intake comes from where - very enlightening!
So, a lot of info here but I hope you feel confident enough now that you can indeed receive adequate protein on a raw food diet. Naturally as a first stop I would recommend that you get sprouting those seeds and beans and check out fitday.com to see how you are faring so far. Then it's just a case of further exploration and refinement until you find what works for you.
© 2007 Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes "Successfully Raw" - a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you're ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at www.TheRawFoodCoach.com.