If you're not a meat eater, you can eat plant-based food sources of protein, such as vegetables.
Including healthy sources of protein in your daily diet is very important. Protein helps keep the body healthy by building and repairing body tissues, coordinating with bodily functions, and allowing metabolic functions to take place. A diet that is high in plant protein is also linked to a reduced risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
When we think of protein, meat and poultry usually come to mind. However, there are other sources of dietary protein if you are not a meat eater. To get your body’s recommended amount of protein, you can opt for protein-rich vegetables, which are available all year round.
So, how much protein do you need every day?
The amount of protein you need to consume every day depends on your age, sex, and activity level. Generally, men need 50-60 grams of protein daily, while women need around 40-45 grams of protein.
In the American diet, the most common sources of protein are meat, poultry, and dairy products. However, an excessive consumption of protein can cause weight gain issues and the formation of kidney stones. If you want to eliminate or cut back on these protein sources, you may want to try eating vegetables with protein content. There are many vegetables that contain small amounts of protein, and if you add a wide variety of vegetables, seeds, and grains to your diet, you’ll likely get the daily recommended amount of protein.
Vegetables are incomplete sources of protein, which means that they do not contain all essential amino acids. However, you can still completely get protein by combining vegetables with legumes, grains, or seeds in your meals, such as rice and beans.
Here is a list of vegetables with protein that you can add to your daily diet. You can try these vegetables and use them in different recipes for a delicious main course or enjoy them alone as a side dish.
Vegetables with Protein
Peas are one of the excellent sources of protein in vegetables. They can be enjoyed fresh or frozen and blends well with any dish. You can add a handful of peas to your meals for a little protein boost. Peas are also low in fat and have zero cholesterol.
A cup of frozen or edible-podded peas contains around 4.03 grams of protein. You can consume them fresh as a snack or add them to salads.
One stalk of broccoli, which is around 151 grams, contains approximately 4.26 grams of protein. Broccoli is also high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Most people enjoy broccoli due to its mild flavor. You can simply steam broccoli or add it to soups or salads for a filling meal.
Aside from being a superfood, spinach is also a great source of protein, including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. One package of spinach, which is around 284 grams, contains 8.12 grams of protein.
Spinach contains plant compounds that can help reduce inflammation. Regular consumption of spinach has also been associated with a reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
Kale is another superfood that contains protein, and is rich in potassium and calcium. You can blend a handful of kale into a smoothie or add them to soups, casseroles, or salads to get your daily dose of protein. Kale contains 2.92 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. For maximum benefit, consume kale on a daily basis.
Mushrooms are a nutritious and tasty addition to snacks and meals. They contain protein, immune-boosting properties, potassium, and other nutrients to help keep the body healthy. A cup of mushroom contains around 2.97 grams of protein.
Aside from being high in protein, asparagus can also help flush out toxins in the kidney and prevent the formation of kidney stones. It is also rich in fiber, which can leave you feeling full or satiated after meals.
Asparagus can be steamed, grilled, roasted, or even wrap it in bacon for a more delicious and protein-filled treat. A cup of asparagus contains 2.95 grams of protein.
7. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are not just high in protein--they are also rich in fiber. This cruciferous vegetable is delicious when steamed, roasted, or shredded in salads. To get its nutty, smoky flavor, try roasting this vegetable. You can drizzle them with oil along with adding a dash of sea salt before roasting.
A 100-gram serving of Brussels sprouts contains approximately 3.38 grams of protein.
Although technically a grain, corn contains around 4.60 grams of protein per ear. Aside from protein, corn is also a great source of fiber, phosphorus, and potassium.
It is best eaten fresh from the cob. However, you can also get it frozen during off-seasons or through canned kernels.
Artichokes are often seen as an ingredient among healthy Mediterranean diets. One medium-sized artichoke contains approximately 4 grams of total protein.
There are many different ways to eat artichokes. They can be steamed, roasted, or blended. You can also make them as part of your main meal because they are not only delicious; they are also filling due to their high protein content.
Cauliflower contains 2.05 grams of total protein per cup serving. You can roast it as a side dish or add it to soups for a protein punch.
Surprisingly, this salad staple contains a high amount of protein per serving. You can get 2.58 grams of protein for every 100-gram serving of arugula. You can add it on top of pizza, pasta, or with eggs aside from salads.
Vegetables and other plant-based foods are considered as incomplete sources of protein because they lack some essential amino acids that the body needs. However, you can still get the recommended amount of protein in your daily diet from a wide variety of vegetables, grains, and seeds. These plant-based foods can help you go meat-free but still enjoy delicious, hearty, and satisfying meals.
If you incorporate a variety of plant-based foods in your daily meals, you can rest assured that you are getting all the amino acids your body needs for cell repair and muscle growth.
USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory (n.d.) https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/usda-nutrient-data-laboratory
Protein in diet. (July 2017). https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm