As a vegan, I get asked all the time, “So where do you get your protein from?” Most people associate protein with coming from animal sources such as meat, fish, dairy, or eggs. And although this is true, I’m here to tell you that there are ways of getting a sufficient amount of complete protein in your diet without having to harm animals.
Include the following 10 foods in your diet and you’ll be building long, lean, plant-fuelled muscles in no time!
Almonds Of all the nuts, almonds take the cake for being highest in protein. One serving of approximately 23 almonds supplies your body with 6 grams! They are also high in antioxidants, fibre, calcium, vitamin E, and niacin. Raw almonds can be a little bit difficult for some people to digest because of an enzyme-inhibiting substance that’s found in the skin. Soaking your almonds for up to 12 hours in purified water helps to remove this inhibitor, and also gives them a delicious texture. Once strained, store your almonds in the fridge.
Broccoli You may have never though this, but broccoli is actually an amazing source of protein. One cup of broccoli contains around 2.6 grams of protein. Although this might not seem like a lot, if you do the math, then you’ll see that broccoli is actually over 33% protein with one cup yielding only about 30 calories. Along with it’s high amount of vitamin C and K, folate, potassium, and manganese, this tree-like vegetable is the perfect side dish to any meal!
Hemp Seeds These versatile seeds can be sprinkled on a salad, added to a smoothie, or stirred into your morning oatmeal. Just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 11 grams of complete protein, meaning they contains all 9 essential amino acids. Hemp seeds are 33% protein, and 35% essential fatty acids. In fact, these little guys contain 6.2 x more cholesterol-reducing, heart health-improving omega-3 than raw tuna!
Kale With a total of 33 calories per cup, 6 grams of carbohydrates (2 of which are fibre), and 2.9 grams of protein, kale is, without a doubt, a staple in any plant-based diet. Not only are the macronutrients impressive, kale is filled to the brim with health-boosting micronutrients and antioxidants. 1 cup of kale contains 1180% of your daily value of vitamin K (important for blood health), almost 100% of your daily vitamin A (important for bone growth, reproduction, and immune system health), and over 70% of your daily vitamin C (important for your immune system, cardiovascular health, prenatal health, prevention of eye disease, and even prevention of wrinkles). Don’t skimp on your greens!
Lentils Hands down my favourite food! 1 cup of these bad boys provides you with 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of blood sugar stabilizing dietary fibre. Not only that, but lentils are an amazing source of iron, with one cup providing 36% of your daily requirement! I could go on, and on about the benefits of lentils, but I’ll leave that for another post!
Soybeans Soybeans have the highest protein content of all of the beans! 1 cup of soybeans yields 29 grams of compete protein. Soybeans are healthiest in their natural form, boiled, or fermented and turned into tempeh. These little green beans are jam-packed full of iron, all of the B vitamins (except for B12), folate, and vitamin K. Needless to say, soybeans are an all-star food.
Pinto Beans Another bean super high in fibre, iron and protein is the pinto bean! 1 cup of pinto beans provides you with over 15 grams of protein. These beans are also particularly high in vitamin B1, thiamin, which is important for the metabolism of glucose in our bodies. Combine these beans with a whole grain for a complete plant-based protein sources.
Pumpkin Seeds There are so many health benefits to eating pumpkin seeds as part of your diet, aside from the fact that 28 grams (approximately 85 seeds) contains 5 grams of protein. These little green seeds are high in zinc, making them a great food for prostate health. They contain high amounts of tryptophan, which converts into melatonin, helping you get a good sleep. Pumpkin seeds are also high in magnesium, potassium, and omega-3s. I can’t say enough about how healthy these protein-packed seeds are for you!
Quinoa This popular gluten-free grain is packed with all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein! 1 cup contains 9 grams of protein, 5 grams of dietary fibre, and is full of cancer-fighting antioxidants. The phytonutrients in this pseudo-grain (it’s technically a seed, but it’s prepared and eaten the same way as a grain would be) have been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Quinoa is a staple in most plat-based diets!
Spelt This ancient grain is a actually a species of wheat that is believed to have been cultivated as far back as 5000 BC! With 11 grams per cooked cup, spelt is a great source of of plant-based protein. Protein and complex carbohydrates aside, spelt also contains impressive levels of iron and other minerals, niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6, and folic acid, all necessary for good health.