Problems of protein intake from legumes and soy

Soy and legumes are known to be excellent sources of ethical protein for vegetarians and vegans. But with soy protein and beans with peas – not everything is so simple! How to get around the “pitfalls” of legume consumption – read this article.

For those who switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, the question arises – how to get protein if I do not eat meat? Actually, this is not a problem – more on that below – but most often the answer is “”. If a newly-made vegetarian, vegan begins to “replace meat with soybeans”, actively lean on soy and legumes, gases begin to torment him, and this is only the visible part of the iceberg. As a result, there is frustration: “I was told that vegetarian food is so healthy, but it seems that this is not suitable for my stomach.” In fact, your stomach is initially all right! And vegetarian food too! And – by the way, with an ethical diet. You just need to study a little what kind of protein is in beans and peas, and how to “work” with it.

“Just take it and….” Starting to eat a lot of legumes is a sure path to disease, not health!

“Motivating” pictures on the Internet, supposedly illustrating the diversity and benefits of a vegetarian diet, can often be misleading: most often on such a plate there are 70% legumes, 10% vegetables and 20% some almost useless side dish like white rice or pasta. This is… a bad diet that will lead to vegetarianism and total ill health. You need to understand that such photos are just a picture! Their authors are studio photographers, not nutritionists.

Some vegan athletes lean on legumes (almost “like a motivator”), simply because they need a lot of protein every day – but then you need to compensate for legumes with a combination of products, consumption of special nutritional supplements, Ayurvedic spices. An ordinary stomach, without help, will not withstand an excess of legumes! And the pancreas too.

If we talk about protein for muscles, then perhaps the best for a vegetarian is dairy (casein). For vegans – superfoods: spirulina and others. But NOT SOY.

In sports, from the point of view of increasing protein synthesis in the long term, supplements (usually powders) from milk protein are ideal. And so widely advertised (“whey protein”) is also good, but for the rapid stimulation of protein synthesis. The rate of absorption of these substances is different, so athletes often combine these two types of supplements. But since we are more interested in the normal consumption of only 2500 calories per day in the composition of natural products, athletes for us is just a guideline for the “logic” of effective protein intake. If you have a reduced body weight – and this happens at first after giving up meat, especially in the first year of a raw food diet – then due to the correct consumption of ethical protein and sufficient training, you will gradually gain normal weight. (vegetarians and vegans).

If you don’t like or don’t like dairy products – for many, the refusal of cow’s milk is a symbol of the ethical treatment of animals – you still have to lean on legumes. But is it true that soybeans, lentils and peas contain the “best” and “most complete” protein for vegetarian vegans? No it is not true. I would say, on the contrary – “do not expect good from the bean.” But conclusions – you will make yourself, and now about the facts.


There is at least 2 times more protein in legumes than in grain products: rice, wheat, etc.

Therefore, legumes: soybeans, beans, lentils, and not rice or wheat, are usually referred to “on the issue of protein.” But is it wise? Let’s figure it out.

A small list of protein content per 100g dry product of popular cereals:

  • Lentils: 24,0 g
  • Mash: 23,5 g
  • Beans: 21,0 g
  • Peas: 20,5 g
  • Chickpeas: 20,1 g
  • Soy grain: 13 g
  • Millet groats: 11,5 g
  • Oatmeal: 11,0 g
  • Buckwheat groats: 10,8 g
  • Pearl barley: 9,3 g
  • Rice groats: 7,0 g

But an unpleasant surprise awaits us already when recalculating the actual protein content in these products, taking into account the fact that the above figures are for dry cereals (its moisture content is about 15%). When we boil rice, lentils, or other grains, the water content will increase. This means that the real value of the protein content will decrease. So the above numbers are wrong? Wrong. The “beautiful” 24 g in dry lentils turns into just in the finished product (boiled lentils) – which we, in fact, were going to eat. (See also – in various foods, including legumes, in the finished product – in the same way that Google search engine and, usually, Western nutrition sites calculate).

calculating the real protein content in the cereals listed above will help you avoid getting into an awkward situation in the eternal, essentially useless, but developing critical thinking disputes with meat-eaters “where there is more protein”. Our trump card is in a reasonable approach to food, not from emotions (“I want it – and I’ll eat it!”), But from dietetics.

Further, another serious stone in our bean-soy garden is the poor digestibility of soy protein. If we take into account the pure arithmetic of the protein content in a dry product, soybeans firmly hold the first place: after all, it contains up to 50% protein (depending on the variety) per dry product weight: it would seem that this is as much as 50 g of protein per 100 g of cereal !! But … Even if you do not take into account the cooking and “dissolution” of this%% ratio of protein in water in the finished boiled cereal (which we have already analyzed in the paragraph above) – soy protein is not so simple.

Despite the fact that soy is often used as a kind of “substitute” for animal protein – people who have just switched to vegetarianism are “dishonest marketing”. Soy is a good product, meat is not so good. But soy is by no means a “substitute” for meat, incl. general vitamin B12.

“Minus meat, plus soy” is a recipe for disaster for health.

Often on the Internet you can find correctly motivating, but essentially incorrect information that allegedly “soy protein is not inferior in quality to animal proteins”, or even that “pea (option: soy) protein is easily digested”. It is not true. And, by the way, the soybean industry in both the US and the Russian Federation can compete in terms of turnover with industrial pharmacology! The truth is good to know:

· Soy protein can be (ideally) absorbed by the human body by 70%, subject to mandatory heat treatment: soy contains toxins, incl. , therefore, soybeans are boiled for at least 15-25 minutes;

· Whole grain soy contains so-called “”: these are harmful substances that block the absorption of certain proteins in the digestive system. It is quite difficult to calculate their impact in %%, because they partially (by 30-40%) lose their activity in the stomach. The rest enters the duodenum, where, in other words, it begins to “fight” with the enzymes secreted by it. The pancreas is forced to produce “for soy” much more of these enzymes than is acceptable for health (proven in rats). As a result, you can easily get and so on. In nature, from being eaten by animals. Soy doesn’t want to be eaten!

Soy protein, unfortunately, cannot be called “complete” for humans, and it is by no means “equivalent in bioavailability to egg and other animal proteins” (as some unscrupulous sites write). This is some kind of “low-frequency” agitation for veganism, which does not honor its distributors! The very idea of ​​veganism is not at all that some product is “better” than meat because of its nutritional value: any product is better than meat already because meat is a lethal product. It is quite easy to make sure that soy protein and soy itself (and other legumes) in general are extremely difficult to digest in the human body. Even after prolonged heat treatment.

· Scientists suspect that soybeans contain several other potentially harmful substances, incl. neither temperature exposure, nor the combination of soy products with alkalizing. These harmful substances can only be removed from soybeans in a chemical laboratory …

In addition, there is evidence that regular consumption of soy contributes to the formation of kidney and gallbladder stones. But this should not frighten those who do not eat “one” soybeans, but include soybeans in a complete diet.

Finally, hypotheses that soy protein allegedly prevents heart disease by 20% or more (information from 1995) in studies after 2000 and beyond. Statistically, regular soy consumption can only bring about 3% of a healthy heart. Although, of course, in the future, and this is significant. In addition, if we are talking about giving up meat, we need to “add” 3-20% to these 25%. In sum, “” is no longer 3%!

Now, good news! When someone scolds soybeans, beans, legumes, it is also worth remembering and arguing that here you just need to know useful food combinations.

So, eating one pea or one lentil is a sure way to bloating and gas. If you mix lentils with rice and cook – no problem, on the contrary – the benefits of digestion! Usually yellow or orange lentils and basmati rice are taken – the resulting dietary dish is called khichri, and is used in Ayurveda for many digestive difficulties.

· Soy does not combine with other legumes.

Soy goes well with vegetables.

· To prevent gas formation, spices should be added to dishes from legumes, soybeans: cardamom, nutmeg, oregano, mint, rosemary, saffron, fennel and others. Ideally, those and for as many as an Ayurveda specialist will tell you.

Soy contains virtually no gluten. Also, soy allergy in adults is extremely rare. Soy is safe to eat!

very tasty, nutritious and healthy. They, unlike soybeans, of course, do not need to be soaked and boiled!) Although the technology for proper germination must be observed.

Simple advice: love legumes – do not forget to harmonize their inner alchemy with water. But seriously, they need enough time for legumes to forget about “gas”:

  • Beans: soak for 12 hours, cook for 60 minutes.
  • Peas (whole): soak 2-3 hours, cook 60-90 minutes. Crushed peas are boiled for an hour without soaking.
  • Lentils (brown): soak 1-3 hours, cook 40 minutes.
  • Yellow, orange lentils are boiled for 10-15 minutes (in a pressure cooker, but not in aluminum! – even faster), green – 30 minutes.
  • Chickpeas: soaked for 4 hours, boiled for 2 hours. Option: soak for 10-12 hours, cook for 10-20 minutes. – until ready.
  • Mash: boil for 30 minutes. Option: soak for 10-12 hours, eat fresh (suitable for salad).
  • Soybeans (beans, dry): soak for 12 hours, boil for 25-90 minutes (depending on variety and recipe).

Whoever doesn’t want to spend time “processing” soybeans at all, let me remind you: there are a lot of tasty and healthy products from it, including, of course, and!

And the last: the “harm” of genetically modified soybeans by science. “GMO” soybeans are used to feed livestock, not people, so it’s a false alarm. In addition, the cultivation of genetically modified soybeans is generally prohibited in the Russian Federation. Vegetarians and vegans have nothing to worry about!

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