The body requires protein to build and repair tissues in the body, and the foods one eats to obtain protein can determine how efficiently the body absorbs and uses it. The common thought is that animal-based foods are the only protein sources on the planet. While there are grass-fed, organic, and humanely raised meat and poultry options, people typically buy meat products that are from animals that lived in cages and were fed grain diets with antibiotics and hormones. Seldom do people opt for the healthier meat options because they are more expensive. The more affordable protein options are actually in the produce sections of grocery stores.
Plant-based foods are some of the most nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich protein sources, which the body can easily process. The consumption of plant-based protein sources has been associated with better nutrient levels and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. To help introduce you to more protein-rich, plant-based foods, here are 7 great options.
Low in calories and extremely rich in nutrients like zinc, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iron, and B vitamins, alfalfa sprouts provide 1.3 grams of protein per cup. Several studies have shown that the saponins in alfalfa sprouts help to reduce bad cholesterol levels.
Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables that provide about 3 grams of protein per cup. In addition to containing protein, calcium, manganese, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K, Brussels sprouts also promote healthy intestinal bacteria to stimulate healthy digestive function.
These skinny spears are low in calories and pack a little over 4 grams of protein per cup. Asparagus is a great source of inulin, which is a prebiotic fiber that promotes the development of healthy gut bacteria. Eating asparagus will help you obtain protein and maintain a flatter stomach by keeping bloating at bay.
Be mindful that cooking collard greens in with pork and lard will negate most of their health benefits. Collard greens may be one of the best sources of folate, with up to 75% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) in about one cup. Folate helps to increase serotonin production, boost energy levels, and can even improve sex drive. Oh, and there are 5.15 grams of protein per cup.
One cup of this cruciferous microgreen contains 100% of your RDI of vitamin K. Watercress is a great source of potassium, manganese, B vitamins, and it contains about 0.8 grams of protein per cup. According to several studies, the phenolic compounds in watercress may have amazing antioxidant protection against cancer.
Different mushroom varieties contain between 3-4 grams of protein per cup. They are a common go-to ingredient for a lot of vegans and vegetarians, and it’s not just because of their meaty texture. Shiitake, portabello, cremini, oyster, and button mushrooms are also great sources of vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones and optimal immune function.
Cauliflower contains about 2 grams of protein and only 25 calories per cup, making it a great vegetable for people who are trying to lose weight. Cauliflower also contains a compound known as sinigrin, which has demonstrated powerful anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antioxidant properties in several studies. As an extremely versatile vegetable, cauliflower is the perfect substitute for starchy carbs.