To my Myth Buster Followers,

What is on the agenda today, let’s talk about Protein myths.

Myth: Legumes must be eaten at the same time as grains to get a “complete” protein

Here’s what you need to know 

Please Please Please, look at Government and Professional Accredited nutrition, dietetic and medical websites and information resources. Grains and legumes do not contain all the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein that the body needs from the diet, and unlike animal proteins (meat, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, yoghurt and milk) that do contain all the essential amino acids. Proteins are made up of 100’s and 1000’s of amino acids that are required to build and maintain body tissue and muscles to live. The body can produce non-essential amino acids that build proteins, and this is why dietitians focus on the essential amino acids found in animal proteins and combined plant foods to make whole or complete proteins in the diet ensuring the body can repair and build muscle and tissue, to be strong and healthy.

  • Legumes e.g. beans-(soy, broad, black, red etc), lentils, nuts contain the amino acids Leucine & Lysine
  • Grains ( e.g. Wheat, rice, corn, quinoa) contain amino acids Methionine & Trypophan

So, when eaten together they become a complete or whole protein creating a better quality protein:- peanut butter sandwich, stir-fried rice with vegetables/nuts/tofu/ beans

= Complete Proteins


However, grains and legumes can be consumed in separate meals throughout the day and not in the one meal, to meet the dietary requirements of complete protein intakes for good health.

FACT:- Vegetarians who’s main diet comprises of fruits and vegetables are at greater risks of protein deficiencies and require  a variety of whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts and vegetables throughout each day for good health to reduce risks of protein malnutrition and chronic disease, e.g. anemia caused by inadequate iron stores in body from insufficient or incomplete protein intakes.

vegetarian triangle

 Tip: Soybean protein and Quinoa are one of the higher quality plant proteins.

Hot Tip: The vitamin C in Vegetables and fruit helps absorb iron from the protein in plant foods.

For individualised advice to meet your nutritional needs, look for an Accredited Practising Dietitian

Food supply and availability:- Grains and Legumes are readily available throughout Australian supermarkets and specialty grocery stores. A large variety of grains and legumes are grown in Australia, including:- beans – faba, broad, azuki, navy & mung, peas – chick, field, cow & pigeon, lentil, vetch, lupin, barley, oats, triticale, canola, millet/panicum, safflower, linseed, sorghum, sunflowers, maize, wheat and peanuts.

Links for more information:-

Protein in diet

Complete Protein Foods

Vegetarian and vegan eating

Meatless Protein: 7 Great Sources Of Protein Other Than Meat


AIS Sports Nutrition – Protein

A recipe to temp your taste buds with a protein hit

Pumpkin fetta/haloumi Quinoa Salad- Serves 4

1 cup of quinoa ( simmered in boiling water to soft, ~ 45mins)

1 cup of small cubed pumpkin sautéed in 1 tablespoon olive oil till golden brown

½ cup of diced red capsicum, add to pumpkin to sauté

¼ cup of pine nuts browned (use pan above after pumpkin and capsicum are sautéed)

½ red onion finely sliced

100g cubed fetta or sliced haloumi grilled (use pan after pine nuts)

2 cups of spinach leaves

300g medium firm tofu sliced and grilled (use pan after haloumi)

Put all the above ingredients, excluding tofu and haloumi (if used) in a bowl and toss to evenly combined.

Make a salad dressing :- I tablespoon hummus, I tablespoon lemon juice, ¼ cup virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon seeded mustard, I tablespoon pesto and additional garlic optional to your taste. Whisk to combine. Pour over salad and season with rock salt and pepper to your liking (optional), toss and serve immediately in a bowl, lay tofu and haloumi (if used) on top of salad.

Please note you can swap tofu for grilled fish or chicken (skin removed), pine nuts to almonds or cashew etc., and any vegetables with your own preferences.

Enjoy……Eat well, eat fresh

By Lyn Dunkley your Myth Buster,

NRG Dietitians Australia


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