Food combining for complete protein

Food combining for complete protein

How to get all your amino acids on a plant-based diet

Lucille Beseler, RDN

Is co-author of Nurturing with Nutrition and a former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics representing over 100,000 Nutrition professionals, while also active as a clinical dietitian in South Florida.

Article in collaboration with: Melanie Bazarte, PhD

Animal foods (fish, poultry, and meat) and what they produce (eggs, and milk) are considered a complete protein, containing the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need. Soy (in soy milk and tofu) does too. As a result they provide us with what's known as complete proteins. Other plant-based foods don't have all the amino acids in any one food, but they can be combined to provide those amino acids:  

  • Legumes, like peanuts*, beans, peas and lentils + Grains (wheat, oats, quinoa)
  • Legumes +  Nuts* or Seeds* (for kids over 3 years old) 
  • Any Vegetable + dairy or eggs 

* Nuts and seeds should not be given to children under 3 yrs old because of the risk of choking. But you can give them nut butters (peanut, cashew or sunflower butter, for example)

Adapted from Nurturing with Nutrition by Dr. Melanie Bezarte and Lucille Beseler, RDN

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