Top 9 Sources of Vegetable Protein
As a health coach and plant-based diet advocate I get asked this age-old question all the time (or a modified version therein):
“How Do You Get Your Protein?”
As vegetarian and vegan meals become more popular each day, people seem to care only about one nutrient: protein. It matters not that most Americans consume a diet that is deficient in many other nutrients, macro (fiber, complex carbs) and micro (vitamins, minerals) alike. They only seem to be concerned about where and how they will get their protein.
And of course, most people assume that animals are the only source of protein there is. Nothing can be farthest from the truth. A plant-based diet has not only enough protein, it also has all the other essential and important nutrients that people need to grow strong muscles and bones, and have energy to boot.
If you eat a variety of foods from the plant world, you will get all the protein you need on a daily basis, and more. Here are the top 9 sources of protein, based on availability and protein content:
Quinoa is considered a complete protein (that is, it has all 9 essential amino acids). One cup of quinoa has as many as 18 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. It is a very versatile grain that can be easily used in salads, soups and as a stand-alone dish as well.
3 tablespoons of hemp seeds have 11 grams of protein and it’s also packed with omega-3, omega-6, Vitamins A, C, E, calcium and fiber. It has a slight nutty flavor and it is used in many forms, including seeds, powders, “milk” and cereals.
Believe it or not, a lot of vegetables are packed with protein: spinach (1 cup = 7 grams), kale (2 cups = 5 grams), broccoli (1 cup = 4 grams). They also contain fiber and lots of phytonutrients that animal protein do not.
Sea vegetables include blue green algae and seaweed, among others. They are considered a complete protein, some of them being as much as 48% protein and also having up to 20 times the amount of minerals of plants that grow in land.
Almond, cashew or hazelnut butter are but a few of the many nut butter alternatives available today. 2 tablespoons of them have as much as 10 grams of protein. They are great eating as a snack, spread over celery or on some gluten free bread.
A cup of peas has 8 grams of highly digestible and highly absorbable protein and lots of other vitamins and minerals, including about ½ the daily requirement of potassium. Today, you can find plenty of protein powder supplements made specifically with pea.
Chia is also a considered a complete protein, chia seeds have no flavor, making it very easy to use in a variety of dishes. The seeds have a gelling action, which helps you feel fuller longer and stay hydrated during long workouts.
1 cup of cooked lentils has a whopping 18 grams of protein. This tasty legume can be used in patties for burgers, soups, casseroles and other interesting dishes. Filled with fiber and other minerals, lentils are available throughout tTempeh comes from fermented soybeans that are prepared and made into a patty. A cup of tempeh has as many as 30 grams of protein! Because the soy is fermented it has been infused with enzymes, which makes it much easier to digest and an overall healthier product.
Jovanka Ciares is a bi-lingual wellness expert + nutrition coach based in NYC + LA. With a rare talent for making healthy living fun, simple + sexy, Jovanka’s approach to mind-body wellness has earned her thousands of fans the world over — and regular slots on Fox News, NPR, CBS Radio, Telemundo, The Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen. Jovanka is the author of three books, and the creator of a transformational online program: The Clean Foods Diet Method. She’s been called a “miracle worker,” a “total spitfire” and “the woman to call for a wellness smackdown.” Meet Jovanka + sign up for her provocative wellness newsletter, The Weekly Jolt, atwww.JovankaCiares.com. Images via: Burn Berlin Burn, Healthwise Home, Eat Spin Run Repeat, Devine Glowing Health, Wikipedia