More and more people in the Western world are embracing a vegetarian or even vegan diet. The medical science has proven in a number of studies and long-term research that a diet with less red meat is significantly healthier and may lead to less health problems.

But you don’t have to be a “full-time” vegetarian to understand the benefits of a plant-rich food—anybody can notice, that by reducing the meat intake and upping the fruits, grains, nuts or veggies, one can feel better and experience improved health, while obtaining their desired weight loss. But the vegetarians, vegans, as well as all elderly, have to pay attention and make sure they get enough proteins and that their protein sources are complete.

A “complete protein” refers to amino acids—the building blocks of proteins. There are 20 different amino acids that can form the proteins in our bodies, in all tissues. Nine of them are called “essential” since the body can’t produce them and have to be supplied by the food. In order to be a complete protein source, a food must contain all nine essential amino acids in roughly equal amounts.

The truth is that this isn’t that easily found among most plants used in the diet today. Luckily for vegetarians, eggs and dairy are complete proteins—but what about vegans?

Let’s remember that proteins are found in every cell and act as a fuel source for the body, and are crucial for muscle growth and repair. Lentils, spirulina, nutritional yeast, or brown rice are good sources of proteins, but there is an even better one—Moringa oleifera. Its leaves have the highest protein ratio of any plant described so far, while they are comparable in quality to that of soy (a protein-rich plant). Even more, Moringa is grown naturally and not genetically modified, and is not known to induce food allergies by comparison with soy.

Moringa (and Moringa-based products) contains most of the 20 amino acids, including all 9 of the essential ones. When compared to (cow) milk, which is a favored source of proteins, Moringa leaf powder is shown to contain between 5 to 11 times more of each of the essential amino acids. Truly remarkable! Tofu (a product of soy) contains all essential amino acids but in less amounts than Moringa powder; four times less threonine and tryptophan, three times less leucine or methionine, two times less valine, and so on.

Moringa oleifera leaf powder is about 25% protein, which is unusually high for a plant—so one needs to take relatively small amounts of powder to obtain all essential amino acids. A baby needs about 1g of protein per kg per day, so a baby under one year would need about 10 g proteins, which are found in three spoons of powder. To benefit from Moringa leaf powder and its proteins, add it to smoothies, soups, sauces, juices, and even bread and pastries. Enjoy!