On the path to a healthier lifestyle, we have consistently heard our parents, doctors, and significant others say, "EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!"
It is a common phrase most people have taken into consideration since childhood.
But what're vegetables and why should you eat them?
Vegetables, in short, are the edible parts of plants that are most commonly categorized by being a leaf, stem, root, tuber, bulb, or flower.(1)
While they are generally known for not having seeds, there is also a series of crossovers that are considered "botanical fruits" by chefs, such as eggplants, tomatoes, and bell peppers, that are considered vegetables to your everyday gardener.
When you look at your health, there must always be a reason for why a certain food group is important to your diet. Vegetables provide important nutrients that can actually reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
One of those key nutrients is protein. Protein is the building block of the body, creating hair, blood, connective tissues and antibodies.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein can be calculated by multiplying 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. (2)
Especially important for those who are vegan or vegetarian, protein is essential for your body to run as a well-oiled machine.
Here you will discover your new favorite go-to high protein vegetables to meet your protein needs.
1. Corn Seeds
No, not the seeds you find at the bottom of your popcorn bowl.
Just one corn seed or kernel, fresh off the cob boasts up to 12% protein composition. (3)
A cup of corn (nearly 166 grams) provides approximately 15.6 grams of protein and is also an excellent source of potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, as well as niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and thiamine.(4)
While corn can be found in many different formats from boiled to the meal, you will find it most beneficial in its natural state.
2. Soya Beans
Native to East Asia, soya beans, or soybeans, are found in the legume family.
They are one of the most popular foods in the world, as they are extremely easy to cultivate and full of nutrients.
Especially popular among vegetarians, soya beans are made up of soy proteins, which contain all eight essential amino acids. (5)
With one cup of soya beans providing 68 grams of protein, it is no wonder this legume is a protein superstar.
Not only that, they also hold a heavy makeup of fiber, zinc, calcium, B vitamins, and iron.
3. Green Peas
Peas are considered a "botanical fruit" as they are developed within the ovary of a flower.
A low-calorie snack, a 100 gram serving of green peas contains about 5.2 grams of protein.(6)
The majority of calories come from carbohydrates, but there is no need to worry as they are "good carbs" and are found side by side with a hefty amount of fiber ( yes that is 22% of RDA for a 2000 calories diet)
Another member of the legume family.
They have a whopping 18 grams of protein per cooked serving (198 grams).(7)
Lentils are also packed with other nutrients such as potassium, iron, and folate.
They do not, however, contain all eight amino acids like soya beans, so it is important to supplement with other proteins to meet your daily needs.
The biggest culprit prompting, "EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!" is absolutely broccoli.
If pretending these little tufts of vegetables are trees does not get you to eat them, their protein content will.
Broccoli provides almost 2.4 grams of protein per cup (100 grams) without any fat.(8)
Add that to large amounts of vitamins E , A, C, K as well as potassium, iron, and calcium and you have yourself a winner.
In a study published in the Journal of Zhejiang University Science in 2009, it was confirmed that broccoli, like most vegetables, is best consumed in its raw format to preserve the highest amount of nutrients.(9)
The next best way to keep the protein in tact would be to steam the vegetable. The lowest amount of protein was found after boiling and stir-frying.
Holding 2 grams of protein and 5% of the RDA of fiber, kale is considered one of the most nutritious foods in the world.
This cruciferous veggie ranks incredibly high on the nutrient density scale.(10)
Another low calorie food, kale has an abundance of vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron.
A popular leaf vegetable in India, moringa oleifera, or "drumstick", is very high in protein and thus popular amongst healthcare professionals to combat an array of illnesses.
In fact, this leaf from the "Miracle Tree" contains twice the amount of protein found in yogurt and even seven times the amount of vitamin C found in an orange.
It has been extremely successful in treating under-nutrition around the world.(11)
8. Lady Finger
More commonly known as okra, lady finger is a flowering vegetable containing 2 grams of protein.
A medicinal vegetable, it has been known to treat diabetes and has also been used as a preventative measure for kidney disease.
The seeds in okra have even been used to combat fatigue.(12)
Often overlooked, cauliflower holds an incredible 11 grams of protein per serving and contains countless other nutrients including manganese, biotin, vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), potassium, fiber and more.
Similar to its cousin, broccoli, cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, making it high in antioxidants.
In many cases, studies have shown its nutritional characteristics to be associated with the reduction of cancer. (13)
Turnips are a bulbous root vegetable mainly grown in more temperate climates, but just as healthy no matter their location.
These roots contain just over 1 gram of protein per serving. This may not seem like much, but paired with a high level of potassium and vitamin C, they are a perfect addition to your protein wish list.
Another example of a "botanical fruit" due to its seeds, zucchini is a versatile squash finding its way from raw vegetable platters into an array of baked goods.
Containing 2.4 grams of protein, zucchini offers large amounts of fiber, manganese, and vitamin C, the nutritional list does not stop there.
While there are no studies on the subject, zucchini is still considered as one of the world's healthiest foods.
Mushrooms are a unique species of fungi with an even more unique nutrient profile.
Not only do they hold nutrients found in vegetables, including 0.6 grams of protein, but also nutrients more commonly found in meats and grains.
There are more than two-thousand edible varieties of mushrooms around the world, so it is surprising that mushrooms are often forgotten as a nutritional source.(14)
A one and a half cup of cooked asparagus has nearly 2.2 grams of protein.(15)
It is also the number one plant source of vitamin K and contains those helpful antioxidants every diet looks for.
Because of this, asparagus is thought to be another healthy addition to those fighting cancer, but no definitive studies exist on the subject.
This flowering vegetable is actually a variety of thistle.
Artichokes, while low in fat, contain about 4 grams of protein per serving.
They have, in fact, proven to contain medicinal qualities partly due to their antioxidant effects and have been shown to lower cholesterol, in turn helping to prevent heart disease.(16)
15. Broad Beans
Broad beans, also known as fava beans, contain 10 grams of protein per one-quarter cup of serving.
They are extremely low in fat and have been known to help with weight management and cardiovascular issues.
Along with high levels of protein, broad beans are a great source of vitamin B1, iron, copper, phosphorus, and potassium.
16. French Beans
French beans or green beans as they are more commonly known are thin, crisp beans found within long pods.
Per cup, you will find about 1.8 grams of protein.
Like other legumes, French beans contain a high volume of nutrients including fiber and folate.
Studies have shown that eating more legumes can reduce your risk of heart disease.(17)
17. Mustard Greens
Containing 2.3 grams of protein (for a 100 grams of serving), mustard greens join the list of the world's healthiest foods.
Coming from the leaves of the mustard plant, this bitter veggie has been even used in soups.
Mustard greens belong to the same group as broccoli and cauliflower, thus labeling them for a study on their health benefits.
Unlike broccoli, however, the nutritional value actually increases when the vegetable is steamed.
18. Fenugreek Leaves
Fenugreek is often found used as a herb for seasoning and in many Indian curries.
Known for its work in reducing inflammation, the leaf of a fenugreek plant has many nutritional properties including 2.5 grams of protein.
Other vitamins and minerals include fiber, iron, magnesium and vitamin B6.
19. Raw Banana
Produced by a flowering plant, bananas are most widely recognized for their incredible levels of potassium, but also contain 1.6 grams of protein as well as 28% of the RDA of vitamin B6 for every 150 grams of sliced banana. (18)
In many studies, raw bananas have been successfully used to treat iron deficiencies as well.(19)
As with many nutrient-dense foods, consuming bananas in their raw state helps to preserve the full nutritional content.
Generally known as simply, beets, beetroot is the root portion of a beet plant and comes in various sizes, shapes, and colors.
They all hold about 2.2 grams of protein per serving.
Beets are packed with fiber, vitamin C and potassium and have virtually no fat.
In a recent study at the Penn State, it was shown that athletes who consumed beetroot had improved blood circulation and overall performance.(20)
Its proven benefits make this vegetable a perfect match to your fitness goals.
21. Green Bell Pepper
There is nothing better than a crunchy bell pepper on a hot day.
Luckily, with 1.3 gram of protein per pepper (one cup of 149 grams of chopped green bell pepper), they boast 200% of your daily value of vitamin C.
The nutrients in bell peppers, while no studies exist, have been shown to have an effect on nerve cell receptors, minimizing pain as well as helping to balance blood sugar.
22. Bitter Gourd
Best known for helping to lower blood sugar levels, the bitter gourd or bitter melon, yields 1 gram of protein.
While its protein composition is low, it is high in dietary fiber, minerals, and antioxidants.
Because of these properties, studies have proven that the bitter gourd is a cost-effective treatment for diabetes.(21)
Peanuts may be the winner when it comes to protein-rich food sources.
Whether eaten raw out of its shell or in butter form, peanuts contain a generous 38 grams of protein per one cup serving.
While peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies, it is still number one on the list of go-to protein sources.
24. Raw Mango
One raw mango (207 grams) contains 1.1 grams of protein and 96% of the RDA of vitamin C.(22)
Step aside oranges! Mango has become increasingly popular due to its antioxidant compounds and makeup of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Its composition seems to make it a great protector against various cancers, but studies are still ongoing.
Tomatoes are a prime example of a "botanical fruit" and are immensely popular.
While only holding 1.3 grams of protein per tomato, they reap great nutritional benefits with their other attributes.
According to a study from 2009, the fresher the tomato, the higher the protein content. Once a tomato begins to deteriorate, so does its protein.(23)
A lesson learned: eat fresh!
Surprisingly, a potato contains 4.3 grams of protein in total.
In fact, one large potato holds about the same protein as a serving of cheddar cheese.
Potatoes are extremely common around the world for their nutritional value.
In a study of the nutritive value of potato protein, it was discovered that "a man can retain full vigor for a year or longer on a diet of potatoes and fat."(24)
Like many of its vegetable counterparts, eating a potato in as-close-to-raw format as possible proves to create the best results.
27. Sweet Potato/Yam
Many believe these two potatoes are completely different, however, yams are actually just a variety of sweet potato.
Both contain between 2.1-2.3 grams of protein each and are extremely affordable, which aids their popularity.
These varieties of potatoes are very high in vitamin A, fiber, and potassium.
In fact, a study shows that sweet potatoes may even have anti-cancer effects.(25)
Rhubarb, while not the most popular vegetable, holds a little more than 1 gram of protein and 10% of the RDA of potassium and calcium.(26)
An herb, rhubarb has been used in traditional Chinese medicines for thousands of years.
Its unique properties were found to aid in the intake of glucose to tumor cells, making it a promising treatment for cancer.(26)
Water, water, everywhere! Or in this case, vegetables.
Here you have learned about twenty-eight high protein vegetables to suit your protein needs.
While there haven't been any negative studies on the overindulgence of any of these particular choices, it is important to monitor your health when introducing a new food into your diet.
If you notice any intrusive side-effects, take note and mention them to your doctor.
Otherwise, try something new and watch your energy rise to new heights with this handy guide to protein.