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Ask the Experts

Vegetable proteins and the immune system



Q: How do vegetable proteins support the immune system?

A: Protein has many functions in our body, including helping us regulate our food intake and aiding with bone metabolism, sugar and fat metabolism, blood pressure, and even immune function.

Many people who are unfamiliar with vegetable proteins assume that it’s difficult to get enough protein from vegetable sources. However, there are a variety of plant-based protein options that are considered complete proteins, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa, hemp, and spirulina contain all nine amino acids.

Yet, we must remember that we can’t gain the benefits of vegetable protein if we can’t efficiently digest and absorb it. Besides taking the amino acid profile into consideration, it’s also important to understand that efficient protein digestibility is key. A vegetable protein such as hemp is highly digestible either in its native form or as a protein flour. In general, hempseed and hemp protein flours provide a high-fibre, high-protein food.

Protein powders are a convenient way to get some of the best quality vegetable proteins together in a highly absorbable format. Vegetable protein powders are available from a variety of sources including hemp, rice, pea, quinoa, and spirulina.

Along with a healthy diet, vegetable proteins are of paramount importance for providing antioxidants to help defend against cellular damage and provide ongoing support of the immune system. Visit your local health food store to learn more about vegetable protein powders.



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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD