Our body needs protein in order to build and repair tissues, to optimize the function of the immune system, to provide energy, and to support the function of enzymes and hormones.
The consumption of foods rich in protein builds lean mass, which is more metabolically active than fat mass, it helps the burning of fat and leads to weight loss.
Animal foods are the richest protein sources, but you can also consume protein through plants. Plants are also lower in fat, and higher in micronutrients, such as minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
There are the 10 richest vegetables in protein:
- Collard Greens
This vegetable is from the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, and it has dark green, loose-leaves, which are full of fatty acids and plant protein.
A 1-cup (36-gram) serving provides 0.9 grams of protein and only 11 calories. It is also extremely rich in vitamin K, with 230% of the RDI in a 1-cup serving.
Collard greens are also full of potassium, manganese, and calcium, as well as antioxidants and phenolic compounds.
It also reduces cholesterol levels as it binds acids in the gut. You can eat it steamed or sautéed, or mix it with other vegetables, like mushrooms and onions.
Protein Content: A 1-cup (36-gram) serving of chopped collard greens provides 0.9 grams of protein, and 100 grams of collard greens contain 2.5 grams. Protein gives 20% of the calories in collard greens.
- Brussels Sprouts
This vegetable is well supplied with protein, fiber, and vitamins. Namely, an 88-gram serving contains 3 grams of protein and up to 3.3 grams of fiber and is loaded with iron, calcium, magnesium, folate, manganese, potassium, calcium and vitamins K, C, A, and B6.
Researchers have shown that it stimulates the growth and health of intestinal bacteria and the production of short-chain fatty acids in the gut.
You can boil, grill, steam, or roast Brussels sprouts.
Protein Content: A 1-cup (88-gram) serving of Brussels sprouts provides 3 grams of protein, while 100 grams of Brussels sprouts contain 3.4 grams. The protein comprises 19% of the calories in this food.
This cruciferous plant grows in water and is rich in protein, as well as vitamin C, A, B, calcium, manganese, and potassium.
A cup of chopped watercress (34 grams) has 0.8 grams of protein and 100% of the RDI of vitamin K. This vegetable also contains phenolic compounds which prevent cancer.
Add it t salads and sandwiches, but avoid boiling it, as it will reduce the number of antioxidants.
Avoid boiling watercress in water, since this will decrease the antioxidant content. Instead, try eating raw watercress in salads, stuff it in sandwiches or blend it in smoothies (7).
Protein Content: A 1-cup (34-gram) serving of watercress contains 0.8 grams of protein, while 100 grams have 2.3 grams. Protein makes up 50% of its calories.
- Mustard Greens
It is a member of the Brassica family and is similar to kale, but has its own, unique mustard flavor. Like all the members of this family, it is rich in phenolic compounds that provide strong antioxidant properties.
It is also a rich source of manganese, B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and protein. A 1-cup (56-gram) serving of mustard greens contains 1.5 grams of protein, as well as 348% of the RDI for vitamin K and 118% of the RDI for vitamin A.
Steaming boosts its ability to bind to bile acids, which lowers cholesterol levels. You can eat it raw in a salad, or boiled, steamed, and sautéed.
Protein Content: A 1-cup (56-gram) serving of chopped mustard greens has 1.5 grams of protein, while 100 grams of mustard greens contain 2.7 grams. Protein gives 25% of the calories in mustard greens.
- Alfalfa Sprouts
Alfalfa sprouts are rich in nutrients and low in calories. A cup (33 grams) of alfalfa sprouts has 1.3 grams of protein. It is also rich in iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, folate, B vitamins, phosphorus, and vitamins K and C.
They treat inflammation, soothe menopause symptoms, and prevent osteoporosis.
Studies have shown that it lowers cholesterol levels, due to the high saponin content.
The addition of 40 grams of alfalfa seeds to the diet of 15 people with high blood lipid levels three times daily, for eight weeks lowered total cholesterol by 17% reduction, and LDL cholesterol 18%.
Protein Content: A 1-cup (33-gram) serving of alfalfa sprouts contains 1.3 grams of protein, and 100 grams of alfalfa sprouts contains 4 grams. Protein accounts for 42% of its calories.
This vegetable is abundant in nutrients, such as copper, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamins A and K.
A 1-cup (134-gram) serving contains 2.9 grams of protein. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, and is also rich in fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which have strong prebiotic properties and boost the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria.
You can consume it in salads, or boiled, steamed, grilled, pan-fried, or cooked in the oven.
Protein Content: A 1-cup (134-gram) serving of asparagus contains 2.9 grams of protein, while 100 grams of asparagus contains 2.2 grams. The protein comprises 27% of the calories in asparagus.
This popular vegetable is a rich protein source, and a cup (91-gram) serving contains 2.6 grams of protein, including all the essential amino acids. It is also loaded with vitamin C, K, manganese, folate, potassium, and phosphorus.
Moreover, it is also abundant in plant compounds and flavonoids, like kaempferol, which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Broccoli is also rich in glucosinolates, compounds which lower the risk of cancer.
Steaming improves its ability to bind to bile acid, and thus lowers cholesterol levels. It also detoxifies the body and stimulates the release of antioxidant compounds in the liver. Add broccoli to your soups, sauces, side dished, as you prefer it, baked, roasted, steamed, or sautéed.
Protein Content: A 1-cup (91-gram) serving of chopped broccoli has 2.6 grams of protein, while 100 grams of broccoli contain 2.8 grams. Protein makes up 20% of the calories in broccoli.
Spinach is a vegetable high in nutrients., including manganese, potassium, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin A. It is rich in essential amino acids, and protein accounts for 30% of its calories. A 1-cup (30-gram) serving provides 1 gram of protein and 181% of the RDI for vitamin K.
It reduces oxidative stress and treats inflammation.
Researchers found that its high nitrate content increases nitric oxide, which is a signaling molecule normally used in the body to widen the blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and improves endothelial function. Its regular consumption has been found to lower the risk of breast cancer by 44%.
Protein Content: A 1-cup (30-gram) serving of raw spinach contains 0.9 grams of protein, and 100 grams of spinach contains 2.9 grams. Protein accounts for 30% of the calories.
It is extremely rich in protein, and low in calories. One cup (100 grams) of cauliflower has 2 grams of protein and 25 calories, and high amounts of calcium, iron, vitamins C and K, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Cauliflower is also rich a particular glucosinolate compound known as sinigrin, which has potent anticancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Consume cauliflower raw in order not to reduce the glucosinolate content by cooking. Yet, its antioxidants re preserved during cooking, and steaming will raise their levels.
It also binds bile acids and thus lowers cholesterol, and steaming boosts this capacity. You can start using cauliflower as a replacement for starchy carbs.
Protein Content: A 1-cup serving of cauliflower weighs 100 grams and provides 2 grams of protein. Protein comprises 19% of its calories.
- Chinese Cabbage or Bok Choy
Chinese cabbage, also known as bok choy, is another rich protein source, It is also rich in vitamins C, K, and A, iron, potassium, calcium, folate, and manganese.
One cup (70 grams) of Chinese cabbage contains 1 gram of protein. It contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers have shown that its consumption lowers the risk of prostate cancer, and the intake of supplements lowered the risk of liver cancer.
Protein Content: A 1-cup (70-gram) serving of shredded Chinese cabbage contains 1 gram of protein, and 100 grams of Chinese cabbage contain 1.5 grams. Protein accounts for 28% of its calories.
Therefore, despite their high-protein content, these vegetables are also rich in other essential nutrients, which support health in many various ways. Add them to your diet and you will experience numerous improvements!