Consuming protein-rich vegetables can help boost your protein and nutrient intake without adding extra calories.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you may wonder if you’re getting enough protein in your daily diet. According to experts, there are vegetables that can significantly provide you with all the nutrients you require (1, 2). There are also certain plant foods that contain more protein than other food sources.
High protein diets promote the feeling of fullness, weight loss, and muscle strength. You can also achieve these benefits even if you consume vegetables. Let’s take a look at some of the plant foods that are rich in protein per serving.
Vegetables Rich in Protein
1. Sweet corn
A serving of sweet corn provides a protein punch aside from its high fiber goodness. One cup of corn kernels (154 g) contains approximately 4.96 grams of protein. You can consume it fresh from the cob or through frozen or canned kernels during the off-season.
Another popular vegetable packed with vitamins and other nutrients is asparagus. One serving of asparagus (100 g) approximately contains 2.40 g of protein.
Asparagus is also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin K, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and folate (3). Aside from having anticancer (4) and anti-inflammatory properties (5), this vegetable also contains short fructose chains called fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which have prebiotic properties that boost the growth of friendly gut bacteria (6, 7).
You can cook, boil, grill, steam, or pan-fry asparagus and make it a delicious side dish or as part of salads.
3. Green peas
Peas are great food additions when preparing meals. They are an excellent protein source that can be consumed fresh or frozen. A cup of green peas (145 g) has around 7.86 g of protein. A handful of peas to your meal can give you the protein boost you need for the day.
Another good reason for consuming peas is that they also contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, B vitamins, and folate, among others. They also good sources of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. Peas can be used in recipes to add more flavor, texture, and of course, a dose of power-packed nutrients.
A serving of 340 g of spinach contains 9.72 g of protein. Spinach is also considered as a superfood since it is loaded with antioxidants and is nutrient dense with vitamins A, D, E, K, C, and B vitamins, along with the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Spinach is one of the excellent sources of protein because it can help build lean muscles for those who are into resistance training.
5. Broccoli florets
Another popular vegetable that is also rich in protein is broccoli. This vegetable can be consumed raw or cooked and can provide around 2.82 g of protein for every 100 g serving. Broccoli is also high in antioxidants, fiber, and minerals. It is also a rich source of vitamins A, C, K and folate, including potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, and magnesium.
Broccoli works very well when it is sautéed and used as a side dish. You can also add broccoli to various dishes, such as noodles or pasta. Broccoli florets can also be dipped into another source of protein called hummus, which is made from mashed chickpeas or other beans. They can also be roasted with a bit of garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice.
Edamame beans are immature soybeans that have several health benefits, including being rich in protein. However, there are some people who avoid the consumption of soybeans to avoid thyroid issues (10). A 155 g serving of edamame provides around 18.46 g of protein.
Although there are controversies when it comes to consuming soy foods, beans remain as the best plant food protein sources in many vegetarian and vegan diets. Moreover, including high-protein food sources aside from animal meat is crucial for optimal health in these two groups.
Edamame beans taste sweeter than soybeans and are available in fresh and frozen forms during off-seasons. You can simply season up edamame beans and brush a little bit of olive oil for a healthy side snack.
Kale is another leafy green vegetable that is also considered as a superfood. You can add kale into salads, soups, or casserole. If you're not fond of always eating heaps of green veggies, you can blend handfuls of kale into a smoothie to get your daily dose of nutrients, including protein. Kale provides 2.92 g of protein per 100 g serving.
Kale is also an excellent source of fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, along with vitamins A, C, K, and folate. Even though kale is low in calories, it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
There are different varieties of sprouts available that can help boost your protein intake. They can be added to soups, salads, and even sandwiches.
One example is alfalfa sprouts, which can approximately provide 3.99 g of protein per 100 g serving. Alfalfa sprouts also contain a decent amount of vitamins A, K, C, and folate, including minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Artichokes are a popular ingredient often seen in the Mediterranean diet. One medium artichoke can provide up to 4.19 g of protein. This vegetable can be steamed or baked and can be served along with main dishes or added to salads. Big batches of artichoke can be roasted and then they can be stored for a week ahead.
Mushrooms have immune-boosting properties that can help keep the body strong and resistant against diseases. There are many varieties of mushrooms, but the maitake, reishi, and cordyceps varieties are delicious and nutritious additions to your meals. They can be cooked or grilled and drizzled with olive oil.
Mushrooms can provide around 3.09 g of protein per 100 g serving. They are also a good source of potassium and folate. For a healthy weekend brunch, you can serve them with organic scrambled eggs.
Although vegetables do not contain very high protein compared to other food sources, a number of vegetables still contain a decent amount of protein along with other nutrients that promote good overall health. Consuming vegetables that are rich in protein can help boost your protein and nutrient intake without those extra calories.