One of the main reasons for going vegan is its known health benefits, especially for aging women. According to nutrition experts, a plant-based dietary pattern lowers the risks of severe and chronic diseases. For instance, mainly consuming vitamin and mineral-rich fruits and vegetables lessens the chances of colon cancer. Avoiding food high in saturated fat also minimizes cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart diseases.
A study has shown that this nutrient profile is linked with relieving menopause symptoms as well. While menopause is a normal occurrence, its bodily manifestations are not a breeze to go through. And your diet is a factor in alleviating symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. Greens, fruits, and whole grains are low in fat and calories but rich in fiber. These result in your estrogen levels easing out, eventually minimizing symptoms.
On the other hand, there are also claims that a vegan diet poses health risks for older women. It’s mainly due to the idea that nutrients found in animal products are not sufficient in plant-based ones. These include calcium and protein, needed for fortifying bones and muscle, respectively. For women nearing or done with menopause, both components are particularly vital. The natural decline of estrogen levels heightens the risk of bone thinning and losing muscle mass. And you’ll need a healthy amount of calcium and protein to counter such risks.
However, the assumption is not entirely true. These nutrients are not widespread among plant-based products, but there are vegan substitutes for dairy and meat. You’ll just carefully pick what you eat and meet your body’s nutritional requirements. Thus, here are some vegan and natural sources of calcium and protein.
Soybeans are known to be rich in both calcium and protein. A cup of cooked soybeans offers 18.5 % of the recommended dietary intake (RDI), while its immature counterpart, edamame, provides 27.6%. A half-cup of tofu will meet anywhere from 40 to 86 percent of your daily calcium requirement. Tofu, edamame, and tempeh, fermented soybean variation pressed into a patty, all provide 10-19 grams of protein per 100 grams. If you like milk, soy milk can be a great substitute. Not only does it hold 7 grams of protein per cup, but it is also an abundant source of calcium.
Beans and lentils contain several nutrients such as fiber, iron, zinc, calcium, and protein. A cup of cooked beans can provide from 4% of the RDI of calcium up to 26%, depending on the variety. Lentils contain 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, while beans and chickpeas have 15 grams of protein of the same scale. Also, many studies have shown that these can also reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. The good thing about beans is they are inexpensive, widely available, and a versatile ingredient.
Chia seeds may be tiny, but they sure do pack a punch. An ounce or two tablespoons contains 179 milligrams of calcium. It also packs 6 grams of protein per 36 grams. Aside from these, they are also rich in magnesium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and boron. The latter particularly helps strengthen the bones and muscles, aiding the body in metabolizing calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Other Seeds and Nuts
Nuts, seeds, and their derived food are rich sources of protein. Depending on the variety, an ounce or 28 grams provide 5 to 7 grams of protein. They are also an excellent source of fibers and healthy fats. Be mindful of preparing them though, as blanching and roasting may damage the nutrients in nuts.
For calcium, sunflower seeds contain 109 milligrams per one cup. They also provide magnesium which is beneficial to your nerve and muscle condition. Be wary of its salt content, however, since salt can deplete your body’s calcium. For best results, reach for the raw, unsalted sunflower seeds. For nuts, your go-to can be almonds which packs 97 milligrams of calcium for just a quarter of a cup.
Fruits and Vegetables
Every vegetable has a protein component, but the amounts are usually not enough. However, some produce more than others. These include asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. They provide about 4-5 grams of protein per cooked cup. Broccoli and sweet potatoes are a good source of calcium as well. A cup of frozen broccoli contains 87 milligrams of calcium, while a single large sweet potato contains 68 milligrams. Leafy vegetables are also a rich source of calcium, such as kale. It offers 180 milligrams of calcium per 2 cups. Kale is also full of antioxidants that can defer cell damage.
Fruits are commonly known to have less protein than vegetables. The ones that offer the most are blackberries, nectarines, guava, mulberries, and bananas, which pack 2 to 4 grams of protein per cup. A single large orange provides 74 milligrams of calcium. When juiced, a glass has more or less 300 milligrams of it.
If you’re a budding vegan or just thinking about the lifestyle, you have nothing to worry about any adverse effects. All you have to make sure is you’re meeting your body’s nutritional needs, such as calcium and protein. By planning your meal, you’ll be able to enjoy both a vegan and a healthy lifestyle. If you have more questions about a plant-based diet, check Vegan Liftz as they constantly churn out content about the lifestyle.