Supplemental plant protein use is extremely popular. In fact, eating plants versus animal-sourced food, in general, can provide numerous health advantages. However, those on a plant-based diet don’t always get enough protein.
Everyone needs protein, too, because it supplies energy; helps build muscle; increases stamina; supports a healthy weight; and builds new cells, tissues, enzymes, antibodies and hormones. But not all plants—or plant proteins—are alike or the best to use as a protein source. Some plant proteins are made with conventionally raised plants filled with pesticides and other toxins such as GMOs, or they offer incomplete proteins without adequate amino acids.
Let’s take a look at two popular plant proteins. Soy protein, a complete protein which, when conventionally grown, has, on average, 10 pesticide residues, according to the USDA Pesticide Data Program. Likewise, soy protein contains isoflavones and goitrogens, which can raise estrogen levels in men and women and can negatively impact thyroid function when consumed in high amounts. Soybeans also contain phytic acid, which can block the uptake of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. They also have enzyme inhibitors that can reduce the effects of trypsin and other enzymes necessary for proper protein digestion.
Then there’s brown rice protein—USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project verified to ensure purity. It's nutritionally rich and packed with enzymes and four times more arginine—for better nutrient delivery. It's also rich in glutamine, for muscle growth and immune health. When all three layers of sprouted brown rice are used (germ, endosperm and bran), it provides all of the essential amino acids with a high biological value. That’s important, too, because if your diet is missing even one of the essential amino acids, then the body takes protein from other areas, including muscles, to get the missing amino acid.
And speaking of muscles. . . brown rice protein is highly efficient at supporting muscle recovery, muscle building and supplying the body the strength it needs. As a complete protein, brown rice protein delivers all the essential amino acids, but the amino acid leucine is at a high threshold to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Brown rice protein is also highly digestible and hypoallergenic.
Then there’s the nutritional power. Brown rice protein starts with brown rice, which is highly nutritious because it's packed with B vitamins, manganese, iron, dietary fiber and all essential fatty acids. Manganese, for instance, is a trace mineral that helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates and synthesizes fatty acids and cholesterol.
It’s also a strong part of an antioxidant enzyme— superoxide dismutase—which fights free radicals. Brown rice also has fiber and selenium, a trace mineral that’s essential to thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems and immune function. It also provides a rich source of magnesium, a co-factor of over 300 enzymes—including enzymes necessary for healthy blood sugar levels. Magnesium also plays a role in supporting cardiovascular health, already healthy blood pressure levels and strong bones.
Brown rice is supercharged nutritionally when it’s sprouted, activating enzymes which release additional nutrients. Sprouted brown rice has more fiber, three times the amount of lysine (an essential amino acid) and 10 times the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—an amino acid that supports healthy kidney function—than regular brown rice.
It’s easy to see why it’s so popular. But stay tuned. In the coming weeks, we’ll be discussing yet another popular plant protein to know about.