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Q: When choosing a protein powder,
how concerned should I be of
How can i find a Vegan/Gluten-free, low sodium/sugar WHOLE food based protein?
so many are filled with extra fillers
A: Thank you for your question.
Isolated proteins are proteins in which the fat and carbohydrate components have been removed. These proteins are used in many a processed product including protein powders, sauces, cereals and more. These products contain such proteins that have been removed from soybeans or dairy products containing whey (thus soy protein, whey protein) or even extract from peas (pea protein).
Harmful? Some suggest these isolates are highly acid-forming, because they no longer have the alkalizing mineral co-factors that can balance off the acidity of the protein.
Health claims suggest: 1) soy protein may benefit as part of a diet that can help reduce cholesterol as the protein contains none and improve heart health and that 2) whey proteincan benefit in maintaining healthy body, fight off chronic disease and improve emotional health.
While these claims may be true, it would be much better to source your proteins from whole foods that naturally contain these proteins in addition to a variety of other essential nutrients. Furthermore, the synergistic relationship of the whole food composition of nutrients is greater than the sum of its parts.
Natural food sources of soy protein include:
- whole soybeans (those that mature in pod and dried – useful in soups and stews)
- edamame which has been harvested while the beans are still green and sweet (you’ll often find these in the pod at sushi restaurants in which it has been boiled for consumption)
Natural food sources of whey protein include dairy products, such as:
- cheese (goat and sheep’s cheeses are more easily digested)
The bottom line:
If you choose a protein powder, chances are you’ll have to look hard to find any not fortified with some sort of isolated protein and additives (ie added sugars or sugar substitutes – such as sugar alcohols – salt). Consumption on occasion, in moderation, is likely fine. But you will be better off consuming whole food proteins. Besides, it is easy enough to get enough protein for your diet consuming, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes and certain vegetables including broccoli and spinach. Check out this vegan-friendly site
for some daily menus that will meet protein needs.
MRM Veggie Protein powder is a vegan-friendly, gluten-free powder that contains isolated pea protein along with some of those natural whole food proteins I mentioned: hemp, chia and flax. It contains no sugar (uses Xylitol – a sugar alcohol – and Stevia), a proprietary fruit/vegetable blend, and supplies 22 g protein. But it still is highly processed (remember it’s essentially concentrates and powders). Though this may be a better alternative to many of the protein powders out there, I’m still convinced you are better off concocting your own blend of hemp, chia, flax and/or vegetables, nuts and seeds or adding individually into your smoothies and snacks/dishes.
Instead of protein powder, choose nuts and seeds to add protein and healthy fats to smoothies, consider hemp seed, ground flax and chia to add some vegan-friendly and gluten-free protein to your dishes (and can easily be added into smoothies as well). Hemp, flax and chia seeds come naturally with the added benefit of omega 3’s and dietary fiber. Quinoa is a gluten-free, vegan source of protein that makes an excellent substitute for any starchy side such as rice. And don’t forget, zucchini, broccoli, spinach and other dark leafy greens provide a variety of plant-based vitamins/minerals, antioxidant nutrients; AND are a great way to get in some additional protein and fiber (with virtually no fat and no cholesterol).
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