One of the most popular questions I encounter as a nutritionist is “Where do I find my protein?” This question is especially recognized in the vegan community, as it is common for vegans to consider ample protein intake a hard task to achieve, but it actually doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem. If you’re vegan and you struggle to meet your protein requirements or maybe you are just looking for some more options, I have six superior and varied protein sources for you.
Protein Amount: 8 grams per cup
Sometimes mistaken for a grain, quinoa is actually classified as a seed. It contains more (and higher quality) protein than most grains and unlike many plant foods, it has all nine essential amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. An added benefit, quinoa is also a low-glycemic carbohydrate source which will give you energy while helping to maintain even blood sugar levels.
Protein Amount: 18 grams per cup
A pulse found in the legume family, lentils are packed with protein, boasting nine grams in only one half of a cup! Cooking up in only 15 minutes, a bag of dry lentils is convenient, inexpensive, and can be made in large batches ahead of time. Lentils are also a god source of fiber, folate, iron, vitamin B-6, Potassium, and Magnesium.
Protein Amount: 6 grams per cup
At only 46 calories per cup, cooked spinach is packed with protein. One cup of cooked spinach does contain more protein than one cup of raw spinach due to the density of the greens after they have undergone the cooking process. If you prefer a raw spinach salad, you will still obtain adequate amounts of protein as long as you use a few cups of the raw leaves for your salad.
Protein Amount: 11 grams per 1/2 cup
Commonly referred to as a cereal grain, buckwheat is actually a fruit seed that is a cousin of rhubarb. Despite its name, buckwheat actually isn’t a wheat product so it is higher in protein and lower in calories (and suitable for gluten-free individuals) than typical grains. Buckwheat is also a great source of fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper manganese, and selenium.
Protein Amount: 8 grams per 1/4 cup
If you’re not familiar with nutritional yeast, it has a cheesy and nutty taste–you can sprinkle it on things like potatoes, popcorn, beans, and pasta. A food additive made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, it is grown on molasses and then harvested. Besides its protein content, nutritional yeast is one of the only vegan foods that is a great source of vitamin B-12, which is traditionally found in animal products.
Protein Amount: 4 grams per cup
If you’re a fruit lover, at 2 grams of protein per half cup, apricot is one of the highest protein fruits. Fortunately, apricots are also a low sugar fruit so the beneficial protein in take will not be offset by an abundance of sugar.
There are hundreds of vegan foods that contain protein so you do have an assortment to choose from in order to meet your personal food preferences. The above mentioned vegan proteins just happen to be some of my favorites with regard to protein per calorie, other added benefits, and variety. If you know of a must-have vegan protein, we would to hear from you so please comment below!
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