7 Surprising Protein-Packed Vegetables

01/16/2013

We hear constantly about all the good things fruits and veggies have to offer – they’re heart-healthy, low in calories and a great source of essential vitamins and minerals. But what about vegetables as a source of protein?

I’ll be the first to admit, vegetables definitely do not supply the same amount of protein as a piece of chicken, but believe it or not, ounce for ounce, some of these veggies are PACKED with protein.

Among the most protein-dense veggies? Broccoli! Read on to learn more about vegetables that pack a punch and will keep you fuller, longer.

8 Veggies to Incorporate into Your Diet for a More Protein-Rich Lifestyle:

Photo Credit: Mike Haller
Photo Credit: Mike Haller

7. Spinach

Spinach, in particular canned spinach, is a great source of protein. Think about it – a raw spinach salad, though also a good source of protein and a great source of minerals including iron, isn’t as dense as canned spinach. One cup of canned spinach has an estimated 6.01 grams of protein as compared to raw spinach which only has 2.86 grams.

So next time you think about making a spinach salad, reevaluate and have a little sautéed spinach or heat up some canned spinach as a side dish to accompany a delicious meal. You’ll end up eating more spinach and therefore more protein (getting more bang for your buck, figuratively speaking)!

6. Asparagus

Asparagus is another great, hearty vegetable to incorporate into your diet to ensure that you are getting enough protein and also so that you will be less likely to snack in between meals. If you’re a huge asparagus lover – try eating this veggie raw by mixing it into a salad with broccoli and lots of other green, leafy veggies. It’s slightly richer in protein uncooked – compare 2.95 grams of protein uncooked to a slight difference of 2.16 grams once the veggie has undergone some heat.

Either way, however, you can’t go wrong by adding more asparagus into your diet!

5. Artichokes

Photo Credit: Mark Hooper
Photo Credit: Mark Hooper

Not only are artichokes an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as potassium magnesium, calcium and fiber, but they are also a surprising source of protein. One medium artichoke can provide you with up to 4.19 grams of protein uncooked or 3.47 grams cooked.

Here’s a good tip: Buy frozen artichokes for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking or one of those late nights where you desperately need a snack. Frozen, cooked artichokes yield 5.22 grams of protein per cup. You won’t be needing any other snack after this one.

4. Brussels Sprouts

One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts have just under two grams of protein. Brussels sprouts are also known to contain cancer-fighting agents and when prepared properly, taste delicious!

To check out some yummy Brussels sprouts recipes for your next meal: Click Here!

3. Potatoes

Potatoes are not just a great source of protein but also an excellent comfort food and a hearty addition to any meal. When choosing between white and red potatoes – go the red route. You’ll get a little more protein and feel guilt-free about keeping the skin on! And for those who still don’t feel convinced – I urge you to keep the skin intact for the additional fiber content.

Red potatoes lose a little bit of their protein value when they’re cooked, dropping from 6.97 grams of protein per a serving of three large potatoes to 6.88 grams. Either way, this is still higher than the 6.28 grams of protein that’s in white potatoes!

2. Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are the hidden gem of protein-rich veggies. Use this satisfying food on sandwiches, in pasta or even in your salads to significantly increase your protein count.

One cup of sun-dried tomatoes has almost 8 grams of protein!

1. Broccoli

Broccol. The mother of all vegetables. Is there really any surprise here? Broccoli is just about good for everything, but isn’t it great to know that it is also an excellent source of protein?

One cup of cooked broccoli offers 1.86 grams of protein and lots of vitamins and minerals. Eat it raw, and you'll get more than 4 grams of protein. Try incorporating more broccoli into your diet and hey, who knows, maybe you’ll even chop some sun-dried tomatoes to go on top of it!

To see where these values are pulled from, check out this calculator.

For More on the Health Benefits of Vegetables:

How to Include More Veggies in Your Diet

Eat these Veggies in the Winter Months

Root Veggies 101


The Discovery Fit and Health team brings you the latest (and most interesting) health news as well as exclusive interviews, video clips, and other juicy tidbits from your favorite shows.
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