Plant-based meat alternatives are not a new phenomenon but not everyone is aware about it. Dr. Alifia S Bhol -Clinical Nutritionist, Lifestyle Therapist & Founder, NutriAl Diet Clinic – has shared some details about the healthiest meat and their plant-based alternatives. Here are excerpts from her interview with HealthWire.
Que: Which one is better, plant-based alternatives or animal-based foods?
Dr. Alifia S Bhol: Nutritional benefits from naturally sourced produce and ingredients are innumerable. Therefore restricting yourself to one or the other is quite an unnecessary process. Both plant-based as well as animal-based foods are packed with a tonne of nutrients. However, to make things easier to understand; animal-based foods have complete protein, compared to plant foods. Amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, are more potently available in animal-based foods, in comparison to plant-based foods that have at least one of the amino acids missing. Animal protein contains high levels of heme iron and vitamin B12, while plant protein has high levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Que: There is a common perception that one needs to eat animal products like red meat, fish, etc if the person is doing rigorous exercise. How true this is?
Dr. Alifia S Bhol: It is true that people who exercise rigorously, need high biological value protein which is found in eggs or chicken and fish, which are high protein sources too. The slight problem with vegetarian protein for people exercising is:
- they are missing at least one or more essential amino acid
- they take a longer time to get digested and be used by the body
Que: Please tell us in detail about five healthiest meat and their plant-based alternatives.
Dr. Alifia S Bhol:
- Fish: excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and protein-rich.
- Chicken: Negligible saturated fat and high protein with essential vitamins and minerals like B6, B12, Iron, Zinc, and Copper.
- Turkey meat: High-quality protein, helps stabilise insulin levels after meals. (Not processed turkey )
- Eggs: All amino acids present. rich in selenium, B6, B12, zinc, iron, copper, vitamin A, D, E, K.
- Curd: Probiotic-rich, contains B6, B12, Calcium, Vitamin A, Phosphorous, etc
Plant-based protein alternatives :
- Lentils: High fiber, reduces bad cholesterol, nutrient-rich.
- Tofu: Low carb plant food, calcium-rich, contains iron, potassium, and isoflavones.
- Chickpeas: Rich in fiber, key vitamins and minerals.
- Quinoa: Along with protein, provides fibre, B complex vitamins, and essential minerals.
- Amaranth: Reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol, plenty of micronutrients.