Vegetables (and fruit) should make up 80% of your diet – this is the most important truth of human nutrition.
They are nutrient-dense, high in fibre and are what our bodies were created to eat. We have been convinced, however, that there are certain things we can’t get from veggies. Protein is always at the top of that list, and this is not true.
Vegetables do contain protein, just not globular protein like you get from eating animal products. Veggies contain the individual elements that make up globular proteins – amino acids.
Here are five vegetables you can eat to ensure that you get the majority of your protein requirement from veggies.
1. Soya beans
A cup of soya beans contains 28.6g of protein. That’s as much as in 150g of chicken breast.
The beans also contain a lot of fibre and some unsaturated fat – both very important parts of your diet.
Soya gets a lot of bad press at the moment regarding phytoestrogens. However, if you eat soy in limited quantities, and it doesn’t make up a massive part of your diet, you don’t need to worry about those claims.
18g of protein per cup? Yes please!
Lentils pack a mean protein punch, are high in fibre, low in calories and contain excellent quantities of several micronutrients. Use them in salads, curries, or as a mince-meat substitute.
3. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain 5g of protein per 28g making them a brilliant little protein-rich snack. Include them in your morning porridge, in a smoothie, or as part of a handful of nuts as a snack.
Pumpkin seeds have also been linked with decreased risk of various serious diseases and can also help you get a good night’s sleep thanks to the high levels of L-tryptophan they contain.
The veggie that looks like a mini tree is not called a ‘superfood’ for nothing – it packs 2.6g of protein per cup!
You’re also getting 100% of your RDA of vitamins C and K, and lowering your risk of certain cancers too.
The sage advice ‘just eat a potato’ applies to people who need some protein too.
A medium-sized baked potato contains around 3g of protein, plus they are an almost nutritionally perfect food (they contain most of the essential vitamins and nutrients we need on a daily basis) – so you’re getting a lot of bang for your calorie buck.
Spinach was the secret of Popeye’s strength, and maybe now we know why.
Spinach isn’t only high in fibre and iron, but protein too. A cup of spinach has 3g of protein. It’s also a versatile vegetable and can be included in smoothies, salads and veggie bakes.
Protein meal idea: Baked potato with creamed spinach, lentils and a handful of pumpkin seeds. Boom! Protein bomb!
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