High-protein grains are a good vegan protein source. They contain all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own and must obtain from food. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are essential for tissue and organ maintenance and repair. They also contribute to the production of enzymes and hormones. The table above shows protein-rich grains, pseudocereals, and food products that can be made from grains.
Grains tend to have fewer essential amino acids that are important for muscle protein synthesis. However, you can incorporate all the following types of grains into your diet unless you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance:
- Oats are a good source of fiber and protein. They can be consumed in the form of oatmeal, muesli, or as a side dish to meals.
- Quinoa is a plant native to South America and an excellent source of plant-based protein. It contains all the essential amino acids that the body needs.
- Amaranth is another gluten-free grain and an excellent source of protein. It can be used as a side dish for savory dishes or in salads. It can also be used as an ingredient in baked goods, pancakes, or muesli.
- Teff is also a gluten-free grain native to Ethiopia. The protein-rich teff can be used as a side dish, in soups, or as an ingredient in pancakes and baked goods.
- Spelt is a healthier alternative to wheat. It is rich in proteins and a good source of dietary fiber. It can be consumed as a side dish or in the form of spelt pasta or bread.
- Millet is a gluten-free grain and contains more protein than wheat. It is also rich in minerals such as iron and magnesium.
- Barley is a rich source of fiber and protein. It can be used as a side dish for savory dishes or as an ingredient in soups and stews.
- Rye is a grain commonly consumed in many European countries. According to our tables, it is rich in fiber and protein. It can be eaten in the form of rye bread or pasta.
- Although wheat is controversial for some people due to its high gluten content, it is an important source of protein. Bread, pasta, and bulgur are typical wheat products.
- Corn is a carbohydrate-rich food that is also high in protein. It can be consumed in the form of cornbread, popcorn, or as a side dish to meals.
- Rice is a good source of plant-based protein in addition to carbohydrates. However, compared to other grains like wheat and corn, conventional rice is relatively low in protein.
By including a variety of plant-based protein sources in your diet, you can ensure that you get all the essential amino acids your body needs to stay healthy. Along with protein-rich grains, incorporate other protein sources such as legumes, nuts, and seeds into a vegan diet. You can find our respective tables here:
- Protein-rich legumes
- Protein-rich nuts and seeds
- Protein-rich vegetables
- Protein-rich mushrooms
- Protein-rich fruits
- Protein-rich beverages
- Protein-rich herbs and spices
Amino Acids In Grains Support Body Functions
Below, we present protein-rich grains and some of the amino acids contained in them in more detail. Also, make use of the linked tables for each amino acid to find out in which vegan foods they occur in significant amounts.
One very important essential amino acid is lysine. Lysine is needed for bone health and supports the immune system. It is found in higher proportions in quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, spelt, and barley. ⇒ Lysine Foods
Methionine is needed for protein synthesis and detoxification in the body. Methionine is found in oats, wheat, barley, spelt, amaranth, and quinoa. ⇒ Methionine Foods
Cysteine is involved in the formation of collagen and elastin, which support the health of skin, hair, and nails. Oats, wheat, rye, barley, and spelt are protein-rich grains that contain high levels of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. ⇒ Cysteine Foods
Arginine dilates blood vessels and is necessary for regulating blood flow. Buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth, barley, and spelt are rich in arginine. ⇒ Arginine Foods
Threonine is found, for example, in oats, barley, spelt, wheat, and quinoa. This essential amino acid is necessary for protein synthesis and a healthy immune function in the body. ⇒ Threonine Foods
The branched-chain amino acids leucine and valine promote muscle building and regeneration. Oats, wheat, barley, spelt, and quinoa contain significant amounts of leucine. ⇒ Leucine Foods
Phenylalanine is needed for the production of neurotransmitters responsible for communication between nerve cells in the brain. Oats, wheat, barley, spelt, quinoa, and amaranth are good sources. ⇒ Phenylalanine Foods
Tryptophan is responsible for the production of serotonin and melatonin. These act as neurotransmitters in the brain and contribute to a balanced mood and good sleep. The immune system also relies on tryptophan to function smoothly. Tryptophan is found in many grains, including oats, wheat, barley, spelt, quinoa, and amaranth. ⇒ Tryptophan Foods
Gluten-containing Grains With High Protein Content
The most well-known gluten-containing grains are wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. Gluten, as a component of foods like bread, pasta, and sweet pastries, holds the dough together and gives baked goods elasticity.
However, people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance cannot consume all protein-rich grains. The consumption of gluten-containing grains can lead to digestive problems, inflammation, and other health issues for them. Gluten-free grain alternatives that are high in protein include quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, corn, millet, sorghum, and teff. Oats must be certified gluten-free.
Use Our Grain Amino Acid Tables
By using the following tables, you can access the amino acid contents of different grain varieties and grain products with just one click:
- Grains High In Histidine
- Grains High In Isoleucine
- Grains High In Leucine
- Grains High In Lysine
- Grains High In Methionine
- Grains High In Phenylalanine
- Grains High In Threonine
- Grains High In Tryptophan
- Grains High In Valine
- Grains High In Arginine
- Grains High In Cysteine
- Grains High In Glycine
- Grains High In Proline
- Grains High In Tyrosine
- Grains High In Serine
- Grains High In Alanine
- Grains High In Aspartic Acid
- Grains High In Glutamic Acid