Protein is vital for a healthy life.
It helps repair and strengthen muscle tissue, supports healthy brain function, promotes heart health, helps manage weight, builds strong bones, and even boosts mood. Eating enough protein also helps grow hair, strengthen nails, and slows down the aging process. I don’t know about you, but all of those benefits sound really good to me!
So how do you get your protein? Through the foods you eat! While many people believe they can only get enough complete protein from meat and fish, that simply isn’t the case. While meat and fish are packed with protein, there are also a number of vegan protein sources. Here are 15 great options:
Quinoa is an extremely versatile ancient seed that packs eight grams of protein per cup. It’s also rich in fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Plus, did I mention it’s gluten-free? One of the best ways to eat quinoa is to make a quinoa salad. Just cook the quinoa in water or stock (make sure to rinse it first) and then mix it with your favorite salad ingredients. This is a delicious and filling lunch idea!
Beans, beans they’re good for your heart … and brain, muscles, digestive system, and weight! While there are a variety of beans, they are all great sources of protein. One cup of pinto beans, for example, has 41 grams of protein! Beans are great in soups, on top of salads, or eaten as a side dish.
One cup of lentils packs 18 grams of protein — that’s more than three eggs! Lentils are also high in fiber, making them extremely filling. You know what that means, right? No need for an in between-meal snack!
Avocados are a unique fruit that have gained superfood status because of their amazing nutritional value. Along with offering an abundance of healthy fats, one avocado has about four grams of protein.
Avocados are great straight up, mixed into a salad, or mashed on some toast. Avocados can also be used to thicken smoothies and they work wonders in homemade salad dressings. They are extremely versatile. Check out our avocado Pinterest board for more ideas on how you can incorporate avocados into your diet.
5) Chickpeas/ Hummus
Chickpeas are one of the main ingredients in hummus. Not only are they delicious, one cup packs 39 grams of protein! Plus, they’re rich in healthy fats and fiber.
6) Chia Seeds
Chia seeds may be small, but they are nutritionally mighty. They contain 2.5 grams of protein in just one tablespoon. They also contain ALAs, a type of omega-3 fatty acids that benefit heart health, mental health, and much more. Chia seeds are also known as natural energy boosters. Mix them into some yogurt, a smoothie, or your morning oatmeal. You can also whip up some chia seed pudding. Here’s an easy chia seed pudding recipe (serves four):
- 4 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 2 cups of coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon of raw honey
- Mix ingredients together and let sit in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours.
- Once it has set, mix some berries into the pudding and enjoy!
7) Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. While they come from the same species as marijuana, hemp seeds won’t make you high. They only contain trace amounts of the compound that causes the drug-like effects of marijuana. Hemp seeds, on the other hand, are being touted as a great health food. One tablespoon contains about 5 grams of protein and healthy fats.
Similar to quinoa, amaranth is a gluten-free seed that is rich in digestion-aiding fiber and beneficial protein. One cup contains 9 grams of protein. When cooked, amaranth takes on a porridge-like texture, making it great for breakfast!
Perhaps you’ve heard of buckwheat flour before. Buckwheat seeds are commonly ground into flour to create a healthy gluten-free flour alternative. It’s great for baking and really gives your muffins/bread/desserts a protein boost. Just one cup of buckwheat contains 23 grams of protein. Plus, it’s rich in fiber, magnesium, and potassium.
Yes, your greens have protein too! In fact, one cup of cooked spinach has about 7 grams of protein!
One medium artichoke has about 4.2 grams of protein. While artichokes are incredibly healthy, don’t think you’ll get your health fix by dipping bread into cheesy spinach and artichoke dip! Instead, check out this video for some healthy cooking ideas:
One cup of broccoli has 2.6 grams of protein. While that’s not nearly as much protein as many of the other foods on this list, it’s still worth noting that the popular green veggie can provide you with some protein. Plus, broccoli is loaded with other key vitamins and minerals that boost health. Eat it raw or cooked. It’s great on salads, as a side, or just dipped in some dressing as a crunchy snack.
13) Nut Butter
Both peanut butter and almond butter are incredibly filling and that’s partly because of their high protein content. While both peanut and almond butter can be very healthy, make sure you are buying an all-natural organic nut butter that isn’t loaded with sugar and preservatives.
14) Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a wonderful health food because not only is it a good source of protein (about 17 grams per container), but it also contains probiotics. If you’ve clicked around our website before then you know probiotics are “good” bacteria that live inside our digestive tract and help keep us healthy. A healthy gut has been linked to nearly every function in the human body, including:
- Skin condition
Tempeh is another probiotic food. It’s made from fermented soybeans and typically found in Indonesian cuisine. Along with promoting a healthy gut, tempeh is high in protein. Just one cup contains 31 grams!