FNCE® 2017 Session Review: Minding Your Peas and Qs: Plant Protein and the Quest for Wellness, Quality and Functionality

November 13, 2017


Minding Your Peas and Qs: Plant Protein and the Quest for Wellness, Quality and Functionality

FNCE® 2017
Date: October 22, 2017
Speakers: James D. House, Ph.D, P.Ag; Alice Henneman, MS, RDN

Session Description: As the demand for protein foods increases globally, the need for quality plant-based sources is becoming increasingly important. The United Nations named 2016 the International Year of the Pulse to raise recognition of both the nutritional value of pulses as well as their potential impact on sustainable food production and food security worldwide. North America still relies heavily on animal proteins, especially compared to the rest of the world. However, interest in plant-based diets is quickly growing. Increased consumption of plant-based proteins can benefit both vegetarians, vegans and omnivores by helping to reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Plant proteins are also a good source of fiber, which is currently one of the top nutrients of public health concern in U.S. diets.

Legumes, including soybeans, peanuts, pulses, and peas along with nuts, seeds and whole grains are all good sources of plant proteins. Only a few plant proteins, such as quinoa or soy, are considered “complete,” so eating a variety of these foods is essential to ensure consumption of all essential amino acids. Classic complementary pairings include rice and beans or bread with peanut butter. For vegetarian or vegan individuals who consume only plant-based proteins, it is necessary to ensure adequate intake of complementary proteins, iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium and zinc.

The presentation concluded with a few ideas about how to successfully encourage clients and patients to increase their consumption of plant proteins.

  • Demonstrate how to replace animal protein with plant protein in familiar recipes.
  • Encourage use of canned beans to easily add to salads, pasta, soups and casseroles.
  • Use “indulgent” labeling to name recipes and increase their appeal (ex: Slow-Cooked and Sassy Baked Beans vs. Healthy Baked Beans).
  • Improve digestibility by increasing amount and frequency slowly, soaking and cooking beans from scratch and drinking plenty of water.
  • Share strategies for dining out. Encourage patients to check menus online or call ahead. Many international cuisines, such as Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern, often have many plant protein options.

Written by Flannery Nielsen, a Master’s student and 2018 Dietetic Internship candidate at Bastyr University.