While it should come as no surprise that vegetables are good for you, did you know that high-protein vegetables, in particular, can be especially beneficial to your body?
There’s a reason (or many reasons) why we were told to eat our vegetables when we were children. For those whose parents had to hide peas in their mashed potatoes as a kid, or who still struggle to eat veggies that aren’t deep-fried even in adulthood, you’re not alone. The CDC released a report in 2022 saying that Americans aren’t getting nearly enough vegetables in their diet and urged that we figure out how to incorporate more of this food group into our daily diet. And when you learn all that vegetables can offer you and your health, you may feel more motivated to do so.
“Vegetables are packed with nutrients and antioxidants but do not carry a lot of calories. They also contain fiber to promote healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients while helping to reduce bad cholesterol levels,” says Catherine Gervacio, RD, registered dietitian and nutrition writer for Living.Fit.
What constitutes a high-protein vegetable?
Sure, most vegetables contain a helpful amount of fiber. However, some varieties of veggies contain protein, too.
“Vegetables are not a naturally high-protein food, but they can help boost the protein content of a meal, which may be especially important for people who don’t consume animal products,” explains Olszewski.
Because vegetables aren’t super high in protein compared to some animal products, legumes, or grains, Olszewski adds that “any vegetable with about 3-5 grams or more in a serving is considered a high-protein vegetable.”
Due to the fact that even the high-protein vegetables average between three and five grams (with a few going beyond this), it’s still best to pair this food group with other proteins for a balanced meal.
“In order to achieve a high-protein meal with vegetables, the first step is to choose those that contain significant amounts of protein like spinach, green peas, asparagus, or sweet corn,” says Gervacio. “Animal meats and plant-based proteins like legumes and beans can already fill a high-protein meal, but these vegetables are good add-ons to ensure a sufficient amount.”
Read on to learn about 12 different high-protein vegetables to try, and for more healthy eating tips, check out The Best High-Protein Foods for Metabolism.
Protein per cup (cooked): 3.7 grams
Beets are known for their deep purple coloring and rich, earthy flavors, but were you aware that you can chow down on the greens of beets, as well? Providing potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, fiber, and close to 4 grams of protein per cup, you can’t go wrong with throwing these greens in a salad or sautéing them with your favorite seasoning.
Protein per cup (cooked): 3.72 grams
Whether you’re enjoying it baked, sautéed, or steamed, broccoli can give you a nice protein boost of about 3.7 grams per cup—and the benefits don’t stop there. Along with being a high-protein vegetable, broccoli has also been found to help reduce the risk of certain cancers, aid in eye health as you age, and contribute important vitamins like folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, manganese, and iron.