When you think of protein you may think that meat, poultry and fish are the only sources. After all, the high animal protein diets out there will have you believing that these foods are the only good sources of the macronutrient. If you’re keeping up on plant-based diets, you may realize that nuts, seeds and legumes are also good sources of protein. But, few people think of vegetables. Yet, all vegetables contain protein and some vegetables are good sources of protein.
Unlike their meat counterparts, vegetables take much less time to digest in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. And, as we age, stomach acid tends to diminish, making it harder and harder for our body to extract the amino acids from protein. It really doesn’t matter how much protein a food like beef or chicken contains if your body has weak digestion. We need to extract the amino acids from foods to build strong and healthy bodily tissues.
WHAT ARE THE BEST VEGETABLE SOURCES OF PROTEIN?
Here are the top 10 vegetable sources of protein:
Edamame contain 18 grams of protein per cup of cooked edamame, still in their pods. Choose organic edamame because, like all soy, edamame is largely genetically-modified and heavily sprayed with pesticides. Eat them on their own sautéed in a little olive oil and sea salt or add to your favorite Asian-style noodle dish.
When our parents said, “eat your peas” they may have been onto something. These tiny green vegetables contain almost 9 grams of protein per cup. Eat them on their own or add to soups, stews and curries.
One cup of cooked asparagus contains 4.32 grams of protein. Asparagus is delicious roasted, sautéed or grilled, and makes an excellent side-dish or addition to pasta, soups and stews.
While most people assume potatoes have absolutely no redeeming qualities, a medium potato actually contains 4 grams of protein. You’ll still want to eat them sparingly, even if you’re not frying them, as they can cause blood sugar levels to rise. Still, the occasional potato, particularly if you choose the purple ones with their anti-inflammatory proanthocyanidins, they’re not a bad choice. Bake potatoes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent inflammation-causing acrylamides from forming.
Just one-half cup of cooked spinach provides 3 grams of protein, not to mention lots of other nutrients. Add to pasta, soups, sandwiches, wraps, curries, stews and more.
Mung bean sprouts contain 2.5 grams of protein per cup of cooked sprouts. Top your favorite Asian-style noodle dish with a large handful of beansprouts to kick up the protein in your meal.
Like soy, corn is heavily genetically-modified so it is best to choose organic. This delicious vegetable contains 2.5 grams of protein per half-cup of corn. Eat corn straight off the cob or add it to cornbread (also made with organic cornmeal), soups, stews and chili.
These delicious and versatile veggies, which are technically fruits but most people use them like vegetables, offer 2 grams of protein in a half avocado. That guacamole is looking like a delicious and nutritious option, isn’t it? Add to sandwiches, wraps, salsa or blend with fruit or cocoa and a sweetener and use as a base for plant-based ice pops or ice cream.
There are 2 grams of protein per half cup of cooked broccoli. Marinate cooked broccoli in olive oil and garlic, lemon zest and a pinch of sea salt for a delicious antipasto-style appetizer. Add broccoli to soups, stews, curries, stir-fries and most other foods.
These trendy veggies contain 2 grams of protein per half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts. Enjoy cooked Brussels sprouts on their own or atop rice or quinoa dishes, or add to salads.