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Animal products have a high protein content, but there are also quite a few high protein vegetables that can help you to achieve your healthy diet goals.
Our bodies need protein for the repair and growth of muscle mass. Proteins are an essential component of every diet. They help to keep you feeling full between meals and ensure all cells in your body operate as expected.
Many can meet most of our protein requirements from meat and dairy products. But it is also possible to meet some of our nutrient needs from high protein vegetables.
Some vegetables are good sources of plant-based protein, and including some of these in your diet can go some way to help you to meet your nutrient needs. It takes some careful planning and choices.
Best high protein vegetables to include in your diet
Below are some top high-protein vegetables to consider for your diet. All the data in the article are from USDA, making them reliable.
You may or may not be planning to go vegan or vegetarian, but you can add some of these high protein vegetables to your diet.
Interestingly, they are called peanuts, but they are not nuts. Peanuts grow in pods underground, making them more related to legumes like soybeans. Thus peanuts are vegetables.
They are high protein vegetables with many nutritional benefits.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100g of peanuts contain 25.8g of protein, making them one of the high protein vegetables to consider if you are not allergic to them.
Aside from proteins, peanuts contain healthy mono and polyunsaturated fat and fiber, among others. They are also a good source of many nutrients, including vitamin E, niacin, folate, manganese, and thiamin.
Peanuts can offer you many benefits.
- Peanuts can help you to lose weight.
The fiber in peanuts can help keep you full for longer. Thus they can help prolong the intervals between meals and help you to lose weight. (1)
- Can help control blood sugar levels.
Eating peanuts with other foods can help reduce the glycemic index of those foods and help control fasting blood sugar levels (2)
- Can help lower the risk of heart disease.
The fiber and healthy fats in protein are excellent in improving heart health.
Peanuts contain an antioxidant that can help improve blood circulation by relaxing blood vessels, reducing heart inflammation, and lowering blood pressure (3)
- Can help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Some of the vitamins in peanuts (vitamins B and E and niacin) can help promote brain health and help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. (4)
- Can help reduce the risk of Gallstones.
Studies point to the fact that eating peanuts five times a week can help reduce the risk of gallbladder disease. (5)
You can eat peanuts as a snack or combine them with vegetables. You can also use them in cooking many dishes or as toppings on yogurt and ice cream. You can also spread peanut butter on pancakes, bread, etc
While peanuts are very high protein vegetables, not everyone can eat them. Peanut allergies are some of the most common and dangerous food allergies, affecting many children and adults.
Almonds are nutritiously high protein vegetables available to buy in the form of almond milk, butter, or ground.
You can eat the low-carbohydrate almond as it is or use it in cooking.
Benefits of Almonds
Almonds are low-carb, high protein vegetables containing healthy monounsaturated fat, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Including almonds in your diet will give you many benefits.
- Can help lower cholesterol.
Various studies show that the high levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol in almonds could help reduce the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol in your body (7). HDL is good cholesterol, and LDL is bad cholesterol.
- Can help lower the risk of heart disease.
That is because almonds contain good levels of fiber, vitamin E, and monounsaturated fat, which can lower lipid levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other heart-related diseases (8)
- Can support gut health.
Studies show that almonds can promote colon health (9)
- Can help lower the risk of diabetes
Eating almonds, which contain high magnesium, can help reduce the risk of diabetes. It can also help those with diabetes to control blood sugar levels and lipid profiles (10).
You can eat raw or roasted almonds as a healthy snack. You can also include the high protein vegetables in yogurt, salad, or oatmeal, spread almond butter on apple or celery, or use them in pancakes, sauces, etc.
Pistachios are nuts available in the shell or with the shell removed.
They are high protein vegetables containing health-promoting fats with many health benefits.
The USDA data states 100g of pistachios contain 21.2g of protein (11) as well as high-calorie levels.
Pistachios contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, fiber, and carbs. They are also sources of many nutrients and vitamins, including sodium, potassium, vitamin B6, thiamin, copper, and phosphorus.
Health Benefits of Pistachios
You can get many benefits by adding pistachios high protein vegetables to your diet.
- Can help with weight management.
Pistachios have high polyphenol levels, which can help reduce obesity (12). As a snack, you will need time to crack the pistachios before eating. That gives your body time to digest the food and reduces the tendency to overeat.
- Can help promote heart health.
Studies available show that eating pistachios can help reduce blood pressure (13)
- Can help lower Cancer risk.
Consuming pistachios can help reduce the reoccurrence of cancer and death in stage III colon cancer patients (14)
- Can help with the management of gestational diabetes.
Available studies show that including pistachios can help suppress the rise of blood sugar and insulin levels. Thus they could be an acceptable alternative to high-carb, low-fat foods for women with gestational impaired glucose tolerance or gestational diabetes, according to the study (15)
- Other benefits include improving eye health, especially in old age (16), and helping your muscles recover much more quickly after a strenuous workout (17)
You can eat pistachios as a snack, as toppings for oatmeal, salad, or yogurt, pair them with fruits, or as crunchy desserts.
Soybeans are high protein vegetables and a stable food for many people.
They have high protein and fiber and serve as a base for many foods.
The USDA data states 100g of soybeans have 18.2g of protein.
Soybeans are rich in many minerals, including sodium, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, thiamin, and choline.
Benefits of including soybeans in your diet
- Can help keep you full for longer due to the good levels of fiber and protein. They can therefore be beneficial for weight loss
- They can boost digestive health as they add bulk to stool
- They are some of the best high protein vegetables for vegans and vegetarians
- They can help reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer (18)
While soybeans are high protein vegetables with many benefits, they may not be the best option for muscle building as they are low in branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Studies show that foods containing high BCCAs are better for muscle growth (19)
You can’t eat soybeans raw, but you can boil, roast, and steam them. Note that you need to soak them for many hours before cooking
Chia seeds are trendy superfoods in the USA and are available in many health food stores and groceries.
Aside from being high protein vegetables, they are also good sources of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
The USDA data states 100g of chia seeds have 16.5g of protein.
Chia seeds can supply many beneficial nutrients and can be good alternatives for vegetarians, vegans, and those who want to avoid eating sea foods.
Benefits of adding chia seeds to your diet
- They can help promote heart health due to the high levels of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show eating chia seeds can help reduce blood pressure and triglyceride levels (20).
- They can help manage blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes (21)
- They can help boost the immune system and protect you from various diseases due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (22).
- High fiber content means they help improve the digestive system and prevent constipation (23).
- Chia seeds contain kaempferol, a flavonol with anticancer properties. (24). Thus they can help reduce the risk of various types of cancer, including breast, brain, liver, and colon cancer.
You can add the dry seeds to yogurt or salad. You can include them in many recipes for baking and breakfast.
Edamame is a green soybean often served with sea salt in its pods.
They are high protein vegetables with high fiber content and many beneficial minerals and vitamins.
They are some of the best high protein vegetables for lowering cholesterol and the risk of some cancers.
The USDA data states 100g of edamame has 11.9g of protein.
Edamame is a low-carb legume with low sugar content and is a popular food for those on a low-carb diet.
They are some of the best high-protein foods for managing diabetes due to their low sugar content.
- They are one of the best sources of soy protein and can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels (25, 26)
- They can help improve bone health, especially as you grow older, thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis (27)
- There are ongoing researches to verify whether edamame can help reduce menopausal symptoms or whether it can help lower the risk of various cancers.
Lentils are high protein vegetables that can form a nutritious base for salad and many dishes, including soups.
Lentils come in different types and sizes, but they are all very nutritious, have a long shelf life, are easy to cook, and are one of the best high protein vegetables to consider for your diet.
The USDA data states 100g of lentils contain 9.02g of protein.
Lentils have no fat content but contain a wide range of minerals and vitamins, including folate, which can help produce red blood cells.
Lentils are rich in potassium, phosphorus, iron, copper, thiamin, and manganese. They also have good levels of many vitamins, including vitamins B6, C, and K, niacin, selenium, calcium, and riboflavin.
Health Benefits of Lentils.
Eating lentils will give you many nutritional benefits, including
- Helping to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. (28)
- Can help improve heart health (29), helping to lower the risk of various heart diseases, including hypertension.
- Eating lentils instead of high-energy foods can help control and manage obesity and associated diseases, such as diabetes (30)
- Lentils contain lectins, a type of protein that studies show can help prevent cancer (31)
You can add lentils to salad, soup, and other sauces.
Pinto beans are nutritious and high protein vegetables for stews, soups, and rice dishes.
The USDA data states 100g of pistachios contain 9.01g of protein.
In addition to protein, pinto beans are a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Pinto beans contain vitamin B folate, which can help produce red blood cells, and manganese, which can help improve the health of the nervous system, including the brain.
Health Benefits of Pinto Beans
Eating pinto beans
- can help reduce LDL cholesterol (32)
- can help control obesity and such related diseases as diabetes and cardiovascular disease (33)
- can help lower the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases. (34)
- can help increase your lifespan by reducing the risk of many diseases, such as cancer, and those related to heart, infectious, digestive, and inflammation (35).
You can add cooked pinto beans to soups, stews, salads, and sauces
Chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, are good sources of fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates.
The USDA data states 100g of pistachios contain 7.04g of protein, making them high protein vegetables to consider as part of your diet.
Chickpeas contain good levels of fiber and many minerals and vitamins, including folate and vitamin B6, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, copper, and iron.
Health benefits of chickpeas
- The high fiber and protein levels mean eating chickpeas can keep you full for longer, helping to reduce your food intake. Thus they can help with weight management and weight loss (36)
- The high fiber content makes chickpeas one of the best high protein vegetables for boosting heart health, thereby helping to reduce the risk of diseases associated with the heart.
- Chickpeas can help reduce the risk of various types of cancer, including lung and breast cancers (37)
- Can help control blood sugar levels (38)
- Studies show that eating foods that have high resistant starch levels, such as chickpeas, can help promote the health of your digestive system (39)
Mung beans are high protein vegetables in the legume family, rich in many nutrients and complex carbohydrates,
The USDA data states 100g of pistachios contain 7.02g of protein.
Mung beans are a good source of fiber, B vitamins, copper, and potassium.
Peas are some of the best high protein vegetables that can form part of many healthy dishes.
The USDA data states 100g of pistachios contain 5.15g of protein.
Peas are virtually fat-free but are a good source of many minerals and vitamins, including B vitamins, vitamins C, K, and A, iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium, folate, and zinc.
They also have low calorie levels, but the fiber and protein levels are high enough to offer you many health benefits, as highlighted above.
Final words from LiveLIfe
Compared to meat and poultry, vegetables may not be the best sources of high protein.
But many high protein vegetables can help you to meet some, if not all, of your protein requirements.
Aside from protein, many can offer nutritional and health benefits, including boosting calorie levels and protecting you from various diseases.
Consider adding these high protein vegetables to your diet to help achieve your healthy living goals.
These high protein vegetables contain essential minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients, including fiber. Including these in your diet can help lower the risk of many diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
- Jäger, R., Kerksick, C.M., Campbell, B.I. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 20 (2017) doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8