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7 great sources of protein that aren't meat or animal products

"You're vegetarian? How do you get your protein?"

It's a question vegetarians (and vegans) are asked over and over again. While meat and other animal products are common sources of protein for much of the population, there are countless protein options for those on a plant-based diet, too.

» RELATED: These protein powders are toxic to your health, study says

Scientific evidence suggests that animal farming causes between 14.5 percent and more than 50 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

>> Read more trending news 

As concerns for animal welfare, along with environmental realities, continue to grow, many are adopting vegetarian or vegan diets. But starting off can be daunting, especially if you’re worried about maintaining strong bones and muscles.

"It is very easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommendations for protein. Nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain some, and often much, protein," the Vegetarian Resource Group explains on its website.

» RELATED: 31 healthy and portable high-protein snacks

Here's a look at some of the best sources of protein that aren't from animals:

1. Lentils and beans

Not only are lentils a great source of protein, they are also rich in healthy carbohydrates and fiber. One cup of cooked lentils contains an average of 18 grams of protein. A cup of beans contains a bit less, coming in at an average of 15 grams.

2. Spinach and kale

Popeye was definitely onto something when he chowed down on spinach before saving the day. Most people already know that spinach and kale are trendy "superfoods," primarily because they’re great sources of protein. There are about 3 grams of protein per 100 grams of spinach. Kale has even more, with 4.3 grams per 100 grams.

3. Quinoa

Another popular superfood, quinoa is considered a starchy protein because it also contains carbohydrates and fiber. In just half a cup of quinoa, there are seven to nine grams of protein.

4. Nuts

From almonds to walnuts, pecans, cashews and pistachios, nuts are an ideal source of protein. They are also rich in minerals, Vitamin E, and healthy fats. Nuts vary in their protein content. For instance, 21 grams of protein can be found in 100 grams of almonds. Cashews have about 18 grams of protein per 100 grams.

» RELATED: Eating nuts can improve survival rate for those with colon cancer, study says

5. Asparagus

Asparagus is another vegetable rich with protein, plus it works to detoxify your body. Per every 100 grams, there are about 2.2 grams of protein.

6. Tofu

One serving of tofu contains about 20 grams of protein. The protein in tofu is also considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all the necessary amino acids.

7. Broccoli

It may not be the most popular vegetable among children, but broccoli is high in protein, as well as fiber, antioxidants and other essential minerals. There are about 2.8 grams of protein per 100 grams of broccoli.

How to manage your spring allergies

Spring is in the air, literally. 

Over the next few days, many parts of the country may experience high pollen levels.

Dr. Castellaw with the Baptist Medical Group said, “This is probably one of the worst allergy seasons that we have seen in years.”

Castellaw said the signs are clear to see and even easier to feel.

“If the drainage from your nose and things that you're coughing start to change color and consistency, then you need to go see the doctor,” Dr. Castellaw said.

The problem comes when the signs go un-treated. Allergies can turn into much more serious issues.

Dr. Castellaw said, “And oftentimes those allergy problems lead to infections like sinus infections, bronchitis and even pneumonia.”

>> Read more trending news 

Castellaw adds if you're going to take over the counter medicine - be careful. If you have high blood pressure - check the ingredients.

The doctor suggested, “If you have heart problems, thyroid problems you have to stay away from them.”

While the allergy season may have already started, it will likely get harder to deal with before your symptoms subside.

Dr. Castellaw said, “Things are still blooming and actively going we're still seeing cases daily of people coming in who are getting sick.”

Related video:

E.Coli outbreak in 11 states linked to chopped romaine lettuce

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have linked store-bought chopped romaine lettuce from a growing area in Yuma, Arizona, to an E.coli outbreak that has sickened dozens of people in 11 states, the agency reported Friday.

>> Read more trending news 

Twenty-two people have been hospitalized, including three who developed a type of kidney failure, according to the CDC.

The states impacted include: Washington, Idaho, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

No deaths related to the outbreak have been reported.

The agency has not yet identified the grower or a common brand, yet, and is urging people not to eat chopped lettuce from the Yuma area.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection vary, but often include severe stomach cramps and (often bloody) diarrhea. Most people get better in five to seven days. Infections can be mild, but can also be severe and even life-threatening.

If you think you have E. coli, the CDC says to talk to your health care provider or public health department and write down what you ate in the week before you get sick.

People started reporting illnesses that are part of the outbreak between March 22 and March 31.

DNA fingerprinting is being used to identify illnesses that are part of the same outbreak. Some people might not be included in the CDC’s case count if officials weren’t able to get bacteria strains needed for DNA fingerprinting to link them to the outbreak.

To reduce your risk of an E. coli infection, you can:

  • Wash your hands. Wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.
  • Cook meats thoroughly to kill harmful germs.
  • Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Avoid raw milk, other unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices.
  • Don’t prepare food or drink for others when you are sick.

Death of loved one during pregnancy may affect child's mental health, study says

Grieving the death of a loved one can affect an entire family, including babies. In fact, losing a relative during pregnancy may affect the mental health of a child later in life, according to a new report.

>> On AJC.com: Smoking while pregnant study: 1 in 14 women still smoke while pregnant

Researchers from Stanford University recently conducted a study, published in the American Economic Review, to determine the effect a family member’s death may have on children.

To do so, they examined Swedish infants born between 1973 and 2011 whose mother lost a close relative, such as a sibling, parent, maternal grandparent, the child’s father or her own older child, during her pregnancy.

>> Breast cancer patients may help boost survival chances by building muscle, study says

They followed those children through adulthood, comparing their health outcomes to kids whose maternal relatives died in the year after their birth. They gathered the data from their medical records and Sweden’s novel prescription drug registry, which contains all prescription drug purchases.

Lastly, they considered the impact the death may have had on the fetus, including fetal exposure to maternal stress from bereavement and even changes to family resources or household composition.

>> On AJC.com: Is light drinking while pregnant really dangerous?

After analyzing their results, they found that “that prenatal exposure to the death of a maternal relative increases take-up of ADHD medications during childhood and anti-anxiety and depression medications in adulthood,” the researchers wrote in a statement.

Furthermore, they discovered the death of a relative up to three generations apart during pregnancy can also create consequences. 

“Our study offers complementary evidence linking early-life circumstance to adult mental health, but breaks new ground by focusing on stress,” the authors wrote, “which may be more pertinent than malnutrition in modern developed countries such as the United States and Sweden, and by tracing health outcomes throughout the time period between the fetal shock and adulthood.”

>> Read more trending news 

To combat the issue, the researchers recommend that governments implement policies to help reduce stress during pregnancy. They believe such policies should especially target poor families as they are more likely to experience stress than more advantaged ones. 

Although their findings are concerning, they hope they can better help expecting mothers have healthier pregnancies and birth healthier children. 

“Of course, you cannot prevent family members from dying, and we certainly do not want our findings to constitute yet another source of stress for expecting mothers,” the scientists said. “But our findings potentially point to the importance of generally reducing stress during pregnancy, for example through prenatal paid maternity leave and programs that provide resources and social support to poor, pregnant women.”

>> On AJC.com: Why pregnant women should be careful around cats

Breast cancer patients may help boost survival chances by building muscle, study says

Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments for breast cancer. However, building muscle may also help boost chances of survival, according to a new report. 

>> On AJC.com: Breast cancer treatment may trigger heart problems, study says

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente recently conducted a study, published in JAMA Oncology, to determine the association between muscle quality and the disease. 

To do so, they examined 3,241 women from Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The participants were diagnosed with stages II or III breast cancer between January 2000 and December 2013. Scientists then used CT scans to observe muscle tissues.

>> Read more trending news 

After analyzing the results, they found that higher muscle mass upped survival rates, while lower muscle mass was linked with a higher risk of death.

In fact, more than one-third of the individuals with sarcopenia, a condition that causes muscle loss, “had a significantly increased risk of death compared with patients without sarcopenia,” the authors wrote in the study.

>> On AJC.com: Study: Fat linked to breast cancer even if you have healthy weight

Furthermore, building muscle may also help with other cancers.

“Our findings are likely generalizable across many other nonmetastatic cancers because the associations with muscle and improved survival for those with metastatic cancer has been observed across a variety of solid tumors,” they said.

While the scientists did not thoroughly explore why low muscle mass is connected to low breast cancer survival rates, they think inflammation may be a factor as cancer-related inflammation can decrease muscle mass and increase fat.

The researchers now hope to continue their investigations and believe their findings will lead to better treatment practices.

“We should also consider interventions to improve muscle mass, such as resistance training or protein supplementation,” they said. “In the era of precision medicine, the direct measurement of muscle and adiposity will help to guide treatment plans and interventions to optimize survival outcomes.” 

>> On AJC.com: Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says

Physical activity could improve your happiness, study says

It’s no secret that exercise can have positive impacts on your body. Now scientists have discovered that it might also boost your happiness, according to a new report. 

» RELATED: America is getting unhappier, UN global report finds

Researchers from the University of Michigan recently conducted an assessment, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, to determine the link between physical activity and mental attitude

>> Read more trending news 

To do so, they reviewed more than 20 studies that examined happiness and physical activity. The studies included the health information of thousands of adults, seniors, adolescents, children and cancer survivors from several countries. 

After analyzing the results, they found that the odds ratio of being happy was 52 percent higher for those who were very active. It was 29 percent higher for those who were sufficiently active and 20 percent higher for those who were insufficiently active

» RELATED: Do you live in one of the happiest cities in America? 

“Our findings suggest the physical activity frequency and volume are essential factors in the relationship between physical activity and happiness,” coauthor Weiyun Chen said in a statement. “More importantly, even a small change of physical activity makes a difference in happiness.”

They reported that happiness levels were the same whether people worked out 150-300 minutes a week or more than 300 minutes a week. In fact, they said as little as 10 minutes of physical activity weekly made a “significant difference” in a person’s mood.

They noted that they didn’t investigate whether one particular exercise was more effective that the other. However, aerobics, mixed activity classes, stretching and balance movement were all helpful. 

“Future research is suggested to explore the mechanism of how physical activity influences happiness,” they wrote, “and to determine the optimal dose and type of physical activity for gaining the benefits of happiness.”

» RELATED: When do adults reach peak happiness? Not until age 50, study says 

Add this common snack to your diet to help avoid heart attacks, study suggests

Looking for ways to improve your heart health? Munching on nuts and seeds could lower your cardiovascular disease risk, according to a new report.

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from Loma Linda University in California recently conducted a study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, to determine which foods may contribute to heart disease risk, which can lead to high blood pressure, cardiac arrest and stroke. 

To do so, they examined data from about 81,000 people, which detailed sources of animal protein, animal fat and other dietary fats.

>> Related: You may be able to better avoid a heart attack with this common snack, study says

After analyzing the results, they found that those who consumed large amounts of meat protein were 60 percent more likely to develop heart disease. On the other hand, people who ate large amounts of protein from nuts and seeds had a 40 percent reduced chance of getting the illness.

“While dietary fats are part of the story in affecting risk of cardiovascular disease, proteins may also have important and largely overlooked independent effects on risk,” lead author Gary Fraser said in a statement. “This new evidence suggests that the full picture probably also involves the biological effects of proteins in these foods ... This research is suggesting there is more heterogeneity than just the binary categorization of plant protein or animal protein.”

>> On AJC.com: You can avoid strokes and heart attacks with these two household fruits, study says

While they weren’t surprised by the results, they said their investigation left further questions. 

They now wonder if amino acids in meat proteins play a role in the condition. They also want to explore whether other proteins from particular sources affect cardiac risk factors such as blood lipids, blood pressure and obesity

That’s why they hope to continue their investigations to help create the best diets for those at risk for the heart disease.

Pasta could help you lose weight, study says

Do you avoid pasta when attempting to drop pounds? Don’t do away with the dish just yet, because it has been linked to weight loss, according to a new report.

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada, recently conducted a study, published in the BMJ Open journal, to determine how the Italian staple affects our health.

To do so, they took a look at 30 trials that examined about 2,500 people who ate pasta instead of other carbohydrates as a part of a healthy low-glycemic index diet.

>> Related: These are the best diets for 2018

“Unlike most ‘refined’ carbohydrates, which are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, pasta has a low glycemic index, meaning it causes smaller increases in blood sugar levels than those caused by eating foods with a high glycemic index,” the authors wrote.

>> Related: Want to lose weight? Give your breakfast an energy boost, study says

After analyzing the results, they found that those who ate 3.3 servings of pasta per week, where one serving size was one-half cup of cooked pasta, lost about one-half kilogram over a 12-year period. 

“The study found that pasta didn't contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat,” lead author John Sievenpiper said in a statement. "In fact analysis actually showed a small weight loss. So contrary to concerns, perhaps pasta can be part of a healthy diet such as a low GI diet.”

>> Related: Counting calories isn't key to weight loss, study finds

The scientists did note that their investigation only focused on low-glycemic index foods and that more research is needed to determine if weight loss is possible for other healthy diets that include pasta. However, they believe their findings are strong. 

“In weighing the evidence,” Sievenpiper said, “we can now say with some confidence that pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight outcomes when it is consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern.” 

Second wave of the flu: What you need to know

Although the flu season may be winding down, an uptick of another flu strain is setting the scene for a possible second wave of flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

>> Read more trending news

The strain of flu that has dominated this season, influenza A (H3N2), is on the decline, but cases of influenza B have increased, according to the CDC's weekly statement ending on March 11. The report notes that 58 percent of all laboratory-confirmed cases of flu were caused by the B strain.

>> Related: CDC warns of second wave of flu virus

Here are 6 things you need to know about this late-season rise in influenza B.

1. It’s not a total surprise. This second wave of influenza B cases is not unexpected. A late-season surge of influenza B often takes place when H3N2 is dominant in the beginning of a season.

2. Influenza B is less associated with severe illness but CDC says don’t take this strain lightly. 

H3N2 is associated with more severe illness, complications, hospitalizations and deaths, especially among children, people older than 65 and those with chronic conditions. But CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund urged vigilance."We know that illness associated with influenza B can be just as severe as illness associated with influenza A," Nordlund told CNN. "We also know that influenza B tends to be more severe for younger children."

3. There’s been an uptick of influenza B in Georgia, but overall numbers continue to fall. 

As of the week ending March 17, the Georgia Department of Public Health said 3.5 percent of patient visits to doctors were for the flu, down from 3.7 percent of patient visits the week before. A month ago, 11.9 percent of patient visits to doctors were for the flu. In Georgia, influenza A cases continue to represent a larger portion of laboratory-confirmed cases of flu: 8.9 percent for influenza A, and 3.9 percent for influenza B.

4. Believe it or not, it’s still not too late to get a shot if you haven’t. 

The CDC recommends vaccination “as long as flu viruses are circulating” and the season can run as late as May. In Georgia, there is “moderate” intensity of influenza, according to the most recent report. Influenza B viruses tend to respond better to vaccines than influenza A viruses. This season’s vaccine is believed to be about 36 percent effective overall, with lower effectiveness against the H3N2 strain, according to a mid-season estimate by the CDC. But even partial protection can help reduce the severity of illness.

5. Don’t let your guard down. Continue to take steps to protect you and your family from catching and spreading the flu. Wash your hands - before and after eating, after using the restroom, after coming home from work and school, after touching your mouth or nose. Hand-hygiene is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stop the spread of germs.

6. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and stay home if you are sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (except to get medical care or other necessities). Your fever should be gone for at least 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings. Check with your child's daycare or school before sending your child back. Many have rules and it’s generally at least a full day after they don't have any fever without medication.

Dangerous ibuprofen-like pills linked to 4 overdoses, authorities warn

Authorities in Coweta County, Georgia, are warning the public about dangerous pills that have been linked to four overdoses, one of which resulted in death.

>> Watch the news report here

The pills, that are unmarked and a pinkish brown, resemble ibuprofen. Authorities say it's a powerful underground version of benzodiazepine, commonly known as benzos.

Jacob Baswell, 17, is in jail on six charges of narcotics possession with intent to distribute. He's being held on a $20,000 bond.

>> CDC warns of second wave of flu virus

Police told WSB-TV's Tom Regan they believe his father overdosed and later died after taking some of these pills.

Coweta County fire rescue rushed to three overdoses within hours of each other just this past Sunday. The victims were teens ages 16 to 21.

Paramedics scrambled to help the young men who overdosed on Sunday.

>> CVS accused of revealing HIV status of thousands of customers 

"When we found these subjects, they had depressed respiratory and cardiac," said Robby Flanagan, division chief.

When first responders tried to revive the young men with Narcan, there was little response.

>> Read more trending news 

Authorities say they are concerned there could be more victims.

"We worry there may be more out there. We know he ordered 50, and we can't account for them all this time," said Col. James Yarbrough with the Coweta County Sheriff's Office.

Baswell told investigators he bought the pills online.

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