Protein is a hot topic being discussed in different forums. This can be attributed to its various health benefits. Protein is a macronutrient known to produce enzymes and hormones responsible for repairing body tissues, building muscles and improving focus and brain function. Having an adequate amount of protein in your diet can considerably prevent common diseases by enhancing immunity, in addition to providing energy to carry out day-to-day activities. The amount of protein your body requires depends on factors like your age, sex and activity level. Babies need at least 10 grams of protein every day. Women need 40-45 grams whereas men need 50-60 grams daily. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need a higher amount of protein, about 70 grams per day.
The big question is, which products are good sources of protein? Contrary to the popular misconception, fish, poultry, dairy products and meat are not the only sources of protein. Most people include big chunks of meat in their diet to get their daily dose of protein. It’s a good change for your body to replace the meat with another source of protein every now and then. If you are not a big meat eater, you will be happy to know that veggies have varying amounts of protein and can serve as alternative healthy sources of protein. They may not have as much protein as meat, but combining them can be a genius way to boost your protein intake and satisfying your daily protein needs. Besides, you will also benefit from the increased intake of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and minerals.
But how do you know whether you are getting enough protein or not? Let’s have a quick look at signs of protein deficiency before jumping into our list.
Signs of Protein Deficiency:
• Trouble sleeping at night.
• Feeling tired all the time.
• High cholesterol levels despite practicing a proper diet.
• Feeling moody and anxious constantly.
• Getting tired quickly during workouts.
• Healing slowly after injuries.
• Irregular menstrual cycles.
• Poor focus and concentration.
We have prepared a list of 16 high protein veggies you can add to your diet to help you reach your protein requirement for the day.
Foods in the legume family are excellent sources of protein, and peas are no exception. Peas give you about 10 percent of what you need every day. Besides, they are very tasty and can be included in many recipes to complement main dishes. You can enjoy them fresh or frozen. They are also a popular addition to vegetable soups and casseroles. Peas are also a Vitamins and Minerals powerhouse, notably phosphorus, folate and zinc, all which are crucial for cell growth and development.
Universally recognized as a superfood, spinach is a great source of protein. Blend some spinach to make a green smoothie. A half-cup cooked serving of spinach contains about 4 grams of protein, which is pretty decent for a green vegetable. Apart from consuming spinach in form of salad or smoothie, try cooking it with cheese to make it more luscious and increase its protein content.
Soybeans have one of the highest amounts of protein content amongst plant sources. A cup of soybeans provides about 22 grams of protein. Soybeans also have fiber to promote digestive health and omega-3 fatty acids that avert cardiovascular disease. A popular method of consuming soybeans is in form of soymilk or soy yogurt, both of which can be easily found in convenience store shelves.
Everyone love fries! Potatoes are a popular side dish enjoyed all over the world. I personally don’t know of any fast food restaurant that does not serve chips. Many people wrongly view potatoes as a low-nutrient vegetable. The truth is that potatoes have a decent amount of protein. One medium-sized potato provides about 5 grams of protein.
5. Organic Sweet Corn
Organic Sweet corn is often overlooked just like potatoes. Most people despise corn as a plant with no significant nutritional qualities. If you serve corn with legumes and other vegetables rich in protein, you will have a balanced, nutritional and delicious plant-based meal. The best type of organic corn to go for are the non-genetically modified types.
They may be low in calories, but lentils have an abundant amount of protein, potassium, folic acid and fiber. A cup of cooked lentils provides about 18 grams of protein. You can mix lentils into soup or sauce dip or better yet turn it into a side dish like a veggie burger. Research shows that this veggie decreases the levels of cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
Unpopular among kids, broccoli is often ignored in the vegetable department. Besides fiber, broccoli offers a decent amount of protein. Known as one of the best high protein veggies, broccoli is as lauded an effective cancer-fighting food. Broccoli is also a good source of vitamin K that improves calcium absorption to enhance bone health. You can increase your protein intake by preparing a vegetable salad with peanuts and broccoli, including broccoli in your soups or use it as a pizza topping.
Avocados are a favorite among many people due to their tasty and creamy nature. What these people don’t know is that besides having a high monounsaturated fatty acids content, avocados also have a small amount of protein. You can add avocado to a mojito smoothie or a guacamole.
Peanuts are an excellent breakfast snack. They are also a great vegetarian source of protein. Whether consumed naturally or in peanut butter form, they will help you reach your protein requirement amounts. Peanut butter is a classic favorite for kids which can be added to other foods apart from bread. Peanuts also minimize your appetite meaning that you will eat less during the day and lose some weight.
Kales are gaining popularity fast due to its impressive healthy qualities and protein content. Kales provide almost a tenth of your daily protein intake requirement in a single serving, not many veggies can offer you that. Kales can be used in salads, or wherever you would normally use spinach.
You will soon realize that carrots have more protein than the next vegetable, but we included it in this list because most people prefer munching carrots raw like a snack. Consuming carrots either raw or steamed will provide you’re a healthy dose of protein and vitamin A.
Almonds are known to be a good source of vitamin E and protein. The former offers amazing benefits to your skin and hair. Almond also satisfies more than half your daily needs for magnesium which takes care of bone health, sugar cravings and spasms. A quarter cup serving of Almonds gives you 7 grams of protein.
Artichokes can be consumed in various ways, roasting, teaming or blending. Whichever way you prepare it, they will end up being delicious and filling. Artichokes have a high protein content that will help to keep your energy up all day.
14. Pumpkin Seeds
Yeah, you read that right. If you are on the lookout for a healthy protein snack with the right amount of protein and other essential minerals like magnesium, pumpkin seeds are an excellent choice. Besides protein, pumpkin seeds have zinc responsible for boosting the immune system and tryptophan responsible for improving sleep quality.
A white member of the Brassica family, Cauliflower is known to meet your daily protein requirement due to its decent amount of protein content. Besides, it is rich in choline, a chemical responsible for enhancing learning and memory, improve fat absorption and improving sleep. To consume cauliflowers, mash them like potatoes and add some cheese and garlic to the dish. You can alternatively add cauliflower to veggies salad.
Asparagus is a popular vegetable with a decent protein content. It is also an excellent source of fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, folate and phosphorous. Research shows that Asparagus has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Asparagus can be grilled, cooked in the oven, boiled, pan-fried or steamed. It is an amazing side dish and salad.
Protein is an essential nutrient that gives us the energy we need to go about our daily tasks. No matter the source, protein intake should be sufficient. If you are not in favor of animal products, you can easily switch to veggies and get the required dosage of protein to be fit and healthy.