7 High-Protein Vegetables You Should Be Eating

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When most people think of plant-based protein, they picture vegan protein powders, nuts, beans, and quinoa. But did you know there are a number of other high-protein vegetables that you might not have considered?

Whether you’re vegan and trying to get enough protein, or you’re really pushing protein to maximize your fitness gains, adding vegetables high in protein to your meals can be really helpful in reaching your goals.

Here’s a list of seven higher-protein vegetables that might surprise you.

1. Lentils

Protein: 18 g per cup, cooked

Lentils are among the richest sources of plant protein in their whole form and are an excellent source of iron. Eat them with sautéed onions, tomatoes, or other sources of vitamin C to help your body absorb their iron content.

Cooking tip: Use lentils to replace half of the meat in this easy turkey chili as a simple swap.

2. Edamame

Edamame Soy Beans | High Protein Vegetables

Protein: 18 g per cup shelled, cooked

A popular starter dish in Japanese cuisine, edamame is really just soy beans, which have more protein than almost any whole vegetable. It’s also an excellent source of fiber; that’ll help to fill you up and control your blood sugar levels.

Cooking tip: Enjoy steamed edamame as a snack with a bit of sea salt, or toss edamame beans into a teriyaki chicken stir-fry for some extra protein.

3. Green Peas

Green Peas | High Protein Vegetables

Protein: 9 g per cup, cooked

Not only are green peas are a classic side dish, but they’re also a decent source of protein, a good source of magnesium and B-vitamins, and rich in vitamin A. They also deliver some calcium and beta-carotene, a type of antioxidant.

Cooking tip: Toss steamed green peas into your favorite whole grain or bean-based pasta with fresh pesto sauce.

4. Cooked Spinach

Cooked Spinach | High Protein Vegetables

Protein: 5 g per cup, cooked

Popeye made spinach a famous health food for good reason. Cooked spinach is a good source of protein and also is packed with iron, calcium, vitamin A, and folate.

Cooking tip: Throw some spinach into your next green smoothie, game-day appetizer, or batch of muffins (trust us, you’ll love them).

5. Yellow Sweet Corn

Corn | High Protein Vegetables

Protein: 5 g per cup, cooked

There’s really nothing like sweet corn in the summer. In addition to some protein, corn provides both starch and fiber, making it a great idea for the carb option on your plate. Corn also provides some potassium, phosphorus, niacin, and magnesium.

Cooking tip: When you can get fresh sweet corn, boil stalks for 10 minutes, cut off the kernels, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. If corn isn’t in season, you can still prepare them the same with frozen sweet corn.

6. Russet Potato

Potatoes | High Protein Vegetables

Protein: 5 g per medium baked potato

Regular potatoes have become embattled in recent years, but did you know they contain fiber like a sweet potato, along with other nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, and iron too? They’re a great option for the carb source of your meal.

Cooking tip: Enjoy your mashed potatoes protein-style with this Greek yogurt and scallion mashed potatoes recipe.

7. Artichoke

Artichoke | High Protein Vegetables

Protein: 4 g per medium artichoke, raw

Artichokes are pretty large, and despite the small amount of delicious flesh you actually get from the leaves, they’re higher in protein than most other veggies. They also contain potassium, magnesium and vitamin C.

Try it in: Steam one whole artichoke for 20 to 25 minutes, and enjoy dipping the leaves into this healthier Hollandaise sauce.

The Importance of Getting Different Types of Plant Protein

For those who don’t eat food derived from animals, consuming a variety of protein types from varying sources is critical. Protein consists of 20 amino acids, nine of which aren’t synthesized by the body and must therefore come from food. Animal protein — eggs, fish, poultry, dairy, meat — contains all nine of those essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.

Plant proteins, however, are typically incomplete. So those following a strict vegan diet should consider the quality of the protein they’re consuming and pair foods accordingly.

Vegetarian diets can be much more flexible than vegan diets with respect to sources of protein. For example, eggs and dairy are both high biological-value protein (meaning easily absorbed and used by the body) foods that are lacto-ovo vegetarian. Regularly including eggs or dairy in addition to higher-protein plant foods like beans and lentils can help ensure that you’re getting enough essential amino acids.

A vegetarian breakfast scramble could contain a whopping 26 grams of protein, as well as all of the essential amino acids that your body needs. All it would require is the following ingredients:

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