The 9 Vegetables With the Most Protein, According to a RDN

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While most of us agree that vegetables are an essential component of a balanced diet, we often focus on the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber they deliver. And while it’s true that veggies are micronutrient powerhouses, there’s protein in vegetables too — a surprising amount, in some cases. These plant-based protein sources can be particularly important for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking to diversify their protein sources.

That said, many vegetables — even the vegetables with the most protein — aren’t necessarily complete sources of protein. In other words, they don’t provide all nine of the amino acids our bodies can’t make in adequate amounts. (On the other hand, most meats are complete protein sources.) But all that means is that it’s important to mix and match the veggies you’re eating, to make sure you get all those amino acids and meet your quota of this important macronutrient, especially if we choose the right ones.

Wondering which veggies top the list when it comes to being a protein source? Keep reading to find the nine vegetables with the most protein. Add them to your post-workout plate, throw them into your protein smoothie for an extra boost of nutrients, or enjoy them any time you’re looking for a high-protein snack.

Edamame

Edamame is an excellent vegetable protein source, making it a popular choice among vegetarians and vegans. One cup of edamame provides 18 grams of plant-based protein, and they’re considered a complete protein source because they provide all the essential amino acids your body needs. These young soybeans also provide fiber and various vitamins and minerals, and can be easily added to salads and soups, or enjoyed as a snack, contributing to a balanced and nutritious diet.

Corn

One cup of corn provides five grams of protein. It’s not a complete source of protein, but to make it one all you have to do is combine it with a legume, like peas, beans, or lentils. Along with its protein content, corn provides a high amount of insoluble fiber, which helps prevent constipation.

Artichokes

Artichokes are a lesser-known but valuable source of vegetable protein, with 3.5 grams of this macro per cooked artichoke. These nutritious thistles also offer a high concentration of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as folate, vitamin C, and magnesium. Their unique, slightly nutty flavor makes them suitable for a variety of dishes, including salads, pastas, and dips.

Broccoli

Broccoli stands out as a potent source of vegetable protein, making it an excellent addition to a protein-rich diet, with almost two grams of protein per ½ cup of cooked broccoli. It’s not a complete protein, so consider pairing it with tofu or quinoa to make sure you’re getting the amino acids your body needs. This cruciferous vegetable also provides fiber, vitamins C and K, and various antioxidants.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are another source of vegetable protein, with cooked Brussels sprouts providing almost two grams per ½ cup. These small, cabbage-like greens aren’t a complete source of protein, and should be paired with legumes, soy, nuts and seeds, or grains to help you avoid any shortfalls. But they’re packed with other essential nutrients too, including fiber, vitamins K and C, and various antioxidants. Their slightly bitter flavor pairs well with a variety of seasonings and cooking methods, from roasting and steaming to sautéing and even grilling.

Asparagus

Asparagus is another vegetable protein source, with just four spears providing almost two grams of protein. Known for its delicate flavor and tender texture, asparagus is also a source of fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as folate. Asparagus can be enjoyed steamed or grilled, and should be paired with other protein sources like soy or grains — but it’s easy enough to do so, by incorporating the veggie into salads, soups, and stir-fries.

Spinach

One cup of cooked spinach provides a little more than five grams of protein, but part of its magic lies in its versatility. Like many of the other veggies on this list, spinach isn’t a complete protein — but thanks to its mild flavor, it’s so easy to toss a handful into a dish of other cooked vegetables, grains, soy, or beans, helping the round out the dish’s protein profile. It’s also packed with vitamins A, C, and K, along with essential minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Peas

Peas are another source of vegetable protein, often celebrated for their sweet taste and nutritional benefits. One cup of cooked peas provides 8.5 grams of protein. But be aware: while pea protein powder typically does deliver all nine amino acids, regular green peas do not, so you’ll want to make sure you’re eating a varied diet with other plant-based protein sources as well. Peas also contain antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acids, which may contribute to overall health by reducing inflammation and protecting against chronic diseases. Versatile in the kitchen, peas can be added to soups, stews, salads, stir-fries, and even mashed as a side dish, enhancing both the nutritional value and flavor of meals.

Beans

We know what you’re thinking, but yes: beans are vegetables — kind of. Beans are a unique food that serves as both a vegetable and a protein source, as classified by the USDA MyPlate guidelines. One cup of black beans provides a whopping 15 grams of protein, and when combined with a grain like rice are a complete source of protein. Beans are also packed with essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals, contributing to a balanced and nutritious diet. Their versatility in culinary uses further enhances their appeal; they can be incorporated into a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and casseroles.

Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian and freelance writer who is passionate about providing evidence-based nutrition information in a fun and interesting way

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