10 Delicious Sources of Plant-Based Protein

Plant Based Protein

How do you get your protein? That tends to be a cliché question most people ask those who have adopted a plant-based diet. Whether you’re eating a 100% plant-based, vegetarian, or omnivorous diet (or something in between), this list will give you new and/or additional insights into how much protein non-animal products contain.

Most people don’t think of vegetables as being good sources of protein, or possessing any protein at all. If any protein-dense plant food comes to mind, it’s typically beans. But rest assured that beans aren’t the only plant-based protein out there.

“I’ve found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete.”

-Carl Lewis

Before we get to the food part of the article, let’s discuss one’s protein needs. On average, a sedentary man needs at least 56 grams of protein a day and a sedentary woman needs at least 46. Basically, the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight per day. If you don’t lead a sedentary lifestyle (double high five to you!), then your protein needs definitely go up quite a bit. Alas, I’m not a professional, so I am not at liberty to let you know the exact number at that point, as exercise type, frequency, and fitness goals vary greatly.

Anyway, below is a list of a multitude of nutritious, delicious, AND high-protein foods that happen to be completely plant-based. This list is in no way exhaustive. Also, the countdown is from low to high.

1. Broccoli

I bet when your mom would tell you to eat your broccoli, she wasn’t saying it due to its broccoliprotein content.

This green mini tree (as I’d like to refer to them growing up) is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, fiber, potassium, and bioactive nutrients that may be preventive against a wide array of chronic health ailments.

Protein-wise, broccoli is definitely one of the more protein-dense veggies in the vegetable world. You’re looking at 3 grams of protein.

2. Spinach

spinachOne of our previous posts featured iron-rich spinach. But this versatile leafy green isn’t all about the iron. You’d be surprised to know that it’s one of the most protein-dense vegetables out there, with numerous other leafy greens as runner-ups.

Popeye knew what he was doing when he’d gobble down a can of cooked spinach! The keyword here is cooked.

One cup of cooked spinach is 5 grams of protein, while 1 cup of it in its raw form is just shy of 1 gram.

3. Dried Apricots

dried apricots

Fruit isn’t normally considered a high-protein whole food, but dried apricots definitely have quite a bit of it.

Super sweet and delectable, these dried fruits are chock full of iron, vitamin A, phytonutrients, and of course fiber.

And the moment you’ve been waiting for… *drum roll please*

One cup of dried apricots contains 6 grams of protein!

4. Almonds

Almonds are one of the most popular types of tree nuts. Saying they’re teaming with vitalalmonds nutrients would be an understatement. Their nutritional profile is comprised of fiber, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese.

But you’re not here for all of that… you want to know the protein content. A 1 ounce serving (about 24 almonds) has 6 grams of protein.

Your best bet is to eat these raw. If your stomach can’t handle raw nuts, try dry roasted. That means they’re not roasted in oil!

Some people enjoy almondmilk, but most commercial almondmilks hardly have any almonds in them. Usually, there’s more water, thickeners, and synthetic vitamins and minerals than actual nuts. You can always go the homemade route, though. That way, you’ll have control over how many almonds go into it and you can skip the gut-irritating thickeners and lab-made vitamins.

5. Peanuts

Peants and Squirrel

These tasty morsels aren’t nuts at all. Unlike nuts that grow in trees, peanuts grow underground. They’re legumes and are closely related to green peas.

Okay, so number 5 on the list, they’re obviously high in protein, but they’re also full of fiber and magnesium.

There are about 35 peanuts in an ounce. You’re looking at 7 grams of protein in that ounce.

When it comes to these nut wannabes, peanut butter is one of the most popular ways to ingest them. But if you do decide to go this route, make sure the only ingredients are dry roasted peanuts! No oil. Some salt won’t hurt, but check the label.

6. Quinoa

Quinoa Bowl

This stuff is mistaken for a grain, but in all reality, it’s actually a seed. In recent years, it has easily become one of the most popular superfoods across the globe.

Quinoa’s health benefits are many, but I’ll save those for a future article. 😉

Now, let’s talk protein. One cup of cooked quinoa packs quite the punch with 8 grams of protein.

7. Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds

Omega 3 fatty acids are the primary reason hemp seeds have received such hype recently.

But you’d be surprised to know how much plant-based protein is hiding in these nutty-flavored seeds.

Just 3 tablespoons of hulled (shelled) hemp seeds contain 11 grams of protein.

If you recall, I’ve written an entire article about heroic hemp, so to get a refresher on their additional health benefits, click here.

8. Oats

Oatmeal with Fruit

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had oatmeal for breakfast!

If your digestive tract is a fan of grains, then oats should definitely be one of your go-to grains.

Oats are a wonderful source of magnesium, manganese, fiber, thiamin (vitamin B1), and numerous other nutrients.

Half a cup of raw oats contains 13 grams of protein.

9. Lentils

Lentils and Soup Bowls

More legumes! I seriously can’t get enough. Hopefully you can’t either.

These guys have fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, folate, and so much more! And you guessed it… they make a perfect primary ingredient in soup!

A cup of boiled lentils includes 18 grams of protein!

10. Lupini “Beans”

At this point, I know what you’re probably thinking… legumes and protein go together like pb&j. You’re absolutely right, with one distinction… lupini beans (along with soybeans) are by far the most Lupini Beansprotein-dense legume in the legume kingdom hands down. (The reason we didn’t include soybeans in this list is due to some questionable findings. If you are eating soy often, stick to organic and fermented. Most soy is GMO… at least in the U.S.).

Needless to say, they’re also packed with fiber, as are all plant-based foods. Then add some B-complex vitamins to the mix, and zinc, and copper. Yup, they’re nutrient-packed alright.

Just ONE cup of cooked lupins contains a whopping 26 grams of protein. I kid you not!

*WARNING: Stay away from lupini beans if you have a peanut allergy.

[Related Post: What Does “Non-GMO” Mean?]

“Luckily we know that you can get your protein source from many different ways. you can get it through vegetables if you are a vegetarian. I have seen many body builders that are vegetarian and they get strong and healthy.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

Conclusion

Plants and protein both begin with the letter “p” for a reason. But I’m not here to discredit meat, eggs, and dairy–all of which are extremely high sources of protein. While our diets are primarily plant-based, we prefer not to completely disregard any foods (except flat out junk food) due to our personal preferences or findings (which can be so contradictory at times).

It’s true, meat like one roasted chicken breast consists of 53 grams of protein, which already exceeds what an average woman who lives a sedentary lifestyle needs and just 3 grams away from what a man with a similar lifestyle needs in a day.

But the point I’d like to make here is that you can get enough protein no matter what your eating regimen is like. If you’re in any way concerned about your intake, keep a food diary. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), protein deficiency, as a whole, is exceedingly rare in healthy adults. 100% plant-based foodies just need to be a little more conscious of what they eat.

For instance, ff you eat a quinoa bowl made of 1 cup of cooked quinoa, 1 cup of lupini beans, and 1 cup of spinach drizzled with 24 chopped almonds, you’ve already reached your minimum protein needs as a woman. Add a cup of oats for breakfast, and you’re at your minimum protein needs as a man. Easy does it!

There are obviously TONS of other sources of plant-based protein. Can you think of any? If you had to pick your favorite source out of the list above, which one would it be?

Eva Xanthopoulos

Previous articleDo Bananas Make You Fat?
Hey everybody! Eva here. I'm a writer, health enthusiast, and bookworm hailing from the Greater Cleveland Area. As an gluten-free healthy foodie, I have studied nutrition extensively and hold a Diploma (with distinction) in Sports & Exercise Nutrition from Shaw Academy. When I'm not binging on whole foods (or the occasional Chipotle burrito bowl), I love bike-riding, writing poetry, and having deep conversations. To keep up with my antics, check out my social media sites!

14 COMMENTS

  1. Of all the sources you listed above, I like broccoli, spinach and quinoa the best. I’m not a fan of grains because I find them to be too acidic. Thank you for compiling and writing this up. I enjoyed reading it.

    • I’m not a big grain-eater myself, so I understand. Luckily, grains aren’t the only source of plant-based protein. I don’t know about you, but I was surprised to find that leafy greens like spinach had quite a bit of protein.

  2. I’ve never heard of lupine beans before, I’ll have to see where I can get them. Thank you for all the suggestions, I consider myself quite clued up with healthy foods but you always have me learning something new 🙂 It’s a real shame about soy being GMO in the US. I try to avoid GMO wherever possible and always have to check where the soy comes from. It’s not far that there can’t be both equally available everywhere (if the world has to have GMO in it that is)

    • I hadn’t heard of them either, until I randomly came across them in the healthy snack section of a local grocery store. The outer shell is kind of thick, but it’s still edible, but it also peels off easily. I prefer to peel them. The ones I ate tasted kind of pickled and I’m be interested to try regular lupini beans. Luckily, all soy isn’t GMO. The organic variety anyway. I just wish GMOs weren’t a thing we had to worry about… ever. :/

  3. This a fabulous primer for people who are looking for non animal based proteins. As always, great job. I will be sharing, with credit to you, on my Capable Fitness with Gail Facebook page on July 14th.

    • I’m glad you like this post, Gail! Thank you for the comment and for wanting to share it with your community. 🙂

Join the Conversation!