When you think of protein, does a picture of a hot, juicy steak come to mind? Many people think protein is abundant only in meat and dairy products – and anything from the veggie family is sadly lacking in muscle-building protein. But there’s good news for veggie lovers. If you’re looking for vegetarian protein, you can still find it in your garden. Here are some protein-rich vegetables to enjoy if you’re looking for a source of vegetarian protein.
Protein-Rich Vegetables: Pass the Legumes
Beans are the ultimate vegetarian protein source. Topping the list is soybeans with a whopping 29 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber. Soybeans have the advantage of being a complete source of protein, meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids the body can’t make. No wonder vegetarians eat so much tofu, tempeh and other soy-based foods.
Soybeans aren’t the only legume that’s high in protein. Lentils have 18 grams of protein per cup, while most other beans have between 13 and 15 grams of protein per one-cup serving. If you’re looking for protein-rich vegetables, you won’t do much better than a bowl of hot beans or lentils.
Vegetables with Protein: Peas, Please
Here’s a legume that’s in a class by itself. Garden variety green peas have 11 grams of protein per cup, but you can boost the protein content more by eating black-eyed peas at 11 protein grams per cup. Like beans and lentils, peas are a good source of other vitamins and minerals and are loaded with heart-healthy fiber.
Vegetarian Protein Sources: Artichokes
Most people don’t think of artichokes as being a good source of protein – but at 6 grams per one-cup serving, they deserve a place on the dinner plate. They have other health benefits as well. Artichokes are a good source of antioxidants including quercetin and rutin that help to neutralize oxidative cell damage. Plus, artichokes take a bite out of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. As a bonus, they also help improve digestion.
Other Vegetables with Protein
If you’re trying to increase the protein in your diet without eating meat, keep these veggies in mind. Asparagus, potatoes, and corn has around 5 grams per serving. Okra, mushrooms, mung beans, mustard greens, broccoli, beets, and sweet potatoes have about 3 grams. Not a massive amount of protein, but if you eat a lot of these vegetables, the amount adds up.
Protein-Rich Vegetables: One Word of Caution
Vegetables aren’t a complete source of protein since they don’t contain all of the essential amino acids the body needs. To turn them into a complete protein source, eat them with whole-grain food such as brown rice, barley or quinoa to provide the missing amino acids. The good news? You don’t have to eat meat every day to get your protein. Protein can be “green” too.