Vegetables aren’t always talked about as a go-to source of protein. They’re often described in ways that highlight (but also isolate) certain nutrients: spinach is a good source of iron, artichokes are rich in fiber, and avocados are loaded with healthy fats. All true statements, but these descriptive lines can make it easy to forget that whole foods naturally come as a package of numerous nutrients. Yes spinach serves up a hearty dose of iron, but fiber, vitamins A, E, and K, folate, riboflavin, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and protein are also packed into its green leaves.
The veggies listed below are packed with vitamins, minerals, and at least 4 grams of protein in one cup cooked. Try incorporating them in meatless dishes and snacks throughout the day to scale back on meat and add more plant-based protein to your diet.
Green peas (8 grams)
Although technically a legume, green peas have a surprising amount of plant protein, as well as fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, thiamin, folate, and manganese. They contribute to the 10 grams of protein in Luvo’s Hawaiian Un-Fried Rice Planted Power Bowl.
Spinach (5 grams)
Popeye was onto something. The protein content in spinach definitely helped build and maintain his muscles. Blend spinach into smoothies, scramble with eggs, or drizzle balsamic and olive oil over a bowl full for a quick salad before meals.
Artichokes (5 grams)
Fresh artichokes are in season in November, but canned varieties pack the same amount of protein, fiber, vitamins C and K, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium (just be sure to rinse them to wash away some of the added sodium).
Asparagus (5 grams)
Asparagus has protein, vitamins A, C, and K, and folate dispersed throughout its stalks. This Asparagus, Pea, and Feta Salad with Lemon Balm Vinegar, courtesy of Kara Lydon of The Foodie Dietitian, combines two protein-packed vegetables into one nutrient dense dish.
Corn (5 grams)
It may seem as though corn passes right through our digestive system, serving no nutritional purpose at all. Good news is the protein, thiamin, and folate in corn kernels are still absorbed and the outer coating that passes through is a form of fiber that helps keep bowel movements regular.
Broccoli (4 grams)
Broccoli makes the list with 4 grams of protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, and folate. It’s a key ingredient in many of Luvo’s meals such as So Cal Kale and Bean, Orange Mango Chicken, and Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs with Broccoli.
Brussels Sprouts (4 grams)
Protein, vitamins A, C, and K, folate – what’s not to love about Brussels sprouts? Yes, some of us have traumatic experiences with overcooked sprouts, but these Dietitian-Approved Brussels Sprouts Recipes are far from and have an incredible flavor and nutrition profile.
Did any of these vegetables surprise you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!
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