The 8 Top Vegetarian Protein Sources to Supercharge Your Health

A well-planned vegetarian diet may contain all the nutrients you need, including protein, according to several experts.

Despite this, some plant foods have a disproportionately high protein content compared to others, and both recent and earlier research points to the potential benefits of higher protein diets for increasing muscle mass, satiety, and weight reduction.

Vegan Diets May Lead to Nutritional Deficiencies without Careful Planning

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to remember that not all vegan diets will be equally advantageous. Those containing a lot of highly processed plant foods are not considered to be as healthful for all phases of life as well-planned vegan diets made up mostly of less processed foods.

Poorly designed or heavily processed vegan meals may significantly raise your risk of nutrient deficiencies, particularly in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, iodine, iron, calcium, and zinc.

Your body’s capacity to absorb the nutrients found in plant foods can be further improved by sprouting, fermenting, and using cast-iron cookware while preparing meals. The risk of developing nutritional deficiencies can be decreased by reducing your diet of processed plant foods and increasing your intake of whole or slightly processed ones.

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1. Seitan

The Top Vegetarian Protein Sources to Supercharge Your Health

For many vegetarians and vegans, seitan is a favorite source of protein. Gluten, the primary protein in wheat, is used to make it. When cooked, it closely matches the appearance and feel of meat, unlike many soy-based imitation types of meat.

One of the finest plant protein sources available, it is also known as wheat meat or wheat gluten and has roughly 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). Iron, calcium, and phosphorus are present in trace levels in seitan, which is also an excellent source of selenium.

This meat substitute is sold in many grocery shops’ refrigerator sections, particularly in health food stores. Additionally, you may create your own version using essential wheat gluten. Seitan is simple to use in a number of dishes because it may be pan-fried, sautéed, or even grilled. Seitan should be avoided by anyone with gluten intolerance, nevertheless, as it includes wheat.

2. Tofu, Tempeh, and Edamame

All three of these soybean-based foods—tofu, tempeh, and edamame—are particularly well-liked in East Asian cuisine. One complete source of protein is soybeans. This indicates that they give your body all the necessary vital amino acids.

Edamame is young soybeans that have a pleasant, somewhat grassy flavor. Before eating them, you must steam or boil them. After that, they may be eaten on their own or added to dishes like rice rolls, sushi, wraps, stir-fries, and soups.

In a method identical to creating cheese, bean curds are squished together to create tofu. Meanwhile, mature soybeans are cooked, somewhat fermented, and then pressed into a block to create tempeh. Although tofu doesn’t have a strong flavor on its own, it readily takes on the flavor of the items used to cook it.

In contrast, tempeh has a distinctive nutty taste.

Both tofu and tempeh may be used in a wide range of dishes, including soups, stews, curries, and chilis in addition to burgers. Per a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, all three soy-based proteins provide iron, calcium, and 12–20 grams of protein.

In addition to being high in fiber, folate, and vitamin K, edamame is also a good source of these nutrients. Contrarily, tempeh has probiotics, B vitamins, and minerals including phosphorus and magnesium.

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3. Lentils

The Top Vegetarian Protein Sources to Supercharge Your Health

Lentils are a fantastic source of protein, with 18 grams in each cooked cup (198 grams). They may be included in a wide range of recipes, from healthy salads to warming soups and spice-infused dahls. In a single cup (198 grams) of lentils, you may get more than half the daily required amount of fiber.

Additionally, it has been demonstrated that the fiber present in lentils feeds the beneficial bacteria in your colon, supporting a healthy gut. Additionally, eating lentils may lower your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.

Additionally, lentils are a good source of iron, manganese, and folate. They also include a substantial amount of antioxidants and other plant elements that are good for your health.

4. Beans

The majority of bean types, including kidney, black, pinto, and others, are incredibly essential staple foods that are high in protein per serving. Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, are another kind of bean with a high protein content.

The majority of bean varieties include 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (170 grams) of weight. They are also great providers of fiber, iron, folate, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, complex carbohydrates, iron, and other healthy plant components.

A diet high in beans and other legumes can also help regulate blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and even reduce belly fat, according to a number of studies.

Make a delightful bowl of homemade chili to introduce beans into your diet, or boost your health by adding a sprinkle of turmeric to roasted chickpeas.

5. Nutritional Yeast

The Top Vegetarian Protein Sources to Supercharge Your Health

A deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast known as nutritional yeast is offered for sale in the form of flakes or yellow powder.

It is a well-liked ingredient in recipes like mashed potatoes and scrambled tofu because of its cheesy flavor. Additionally, nutritional yeast may be used as a savory topping on popcorn or as a garnish on pasta meals.

This full source of plant protein contains 16 grams, or half an ounce, and offers 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. The B vitamins, including vitamin B12, as well as the minerals zinc, magnesium, copper, and manganese are all abundant in fortified nutritional yeast. But bear in mind that not all varieties of nutritional yeast are fortified, so pay close attention to the label.

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6. Spelt and Teff

The Top Vegetarian Protein Sources to Supercharge Your Health

The group of cereals referred to as ancient grains includes spelled and teff. Barley, sorghum, farro, and einkorn are some further ancient grains.

Teff is naturally devoid of gluten since it comes from an annual grass, unlike spelled, a kind of wheat that includes gluten. In comparison to other ancient grains, spelled and teff has 10–11 grams of protein per cooked cup (250 grams).

Both are great providers of fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, complex carbohydrates and many other minerals. They also include selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. Spelt and teff are adaptable substitutes for other grains like wheat and rice and may be used in a variety of dishes including baked goods and risotto.

In fact, the main component of injera, a flatbread popular in East Africa, including Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan, is flour derived from teff.

7. Hemp Seeds

The Cannabis sativa plant, which is frequently disparaged for being related to the cannabis plant, is the source of hemp seeds. The substance that gives cannabis its psychoactive effects, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is present in hemp seeds, albeit in very small concentrations.

Hemp seeds are less well-known than other seeds, yet each 3-tablespoon (30-gram) meal has 9 grams of protein. Additionally, hemp seeds are rich in selenium, magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc. Additionally, they contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in amounts thought to be best for human health.

It’s interesting to note that some research suggests the kind of lipids included in hemp seeds may help reduce inflammation and ease premenstrual syndrome, menopause, and some skin problem symptoms.

Sprinkle some hemp seeds in your morning cereal or smoothie to include hemp seeds in your diet. Additionally, they may be added to oatmeal, protein bars, energy balls, and homemade salad dressings.

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8. Green Peas

The Top Vegetarian Protein Sources to Supercharge Your Health

In a cooked cup (160 grams), which is slightly more than a cup (237 mL) of dairy milk, green peas provide almost 9 grams of protein. Green peas also include more than 25% of your daily requirements for fiber, thiamine, folate, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and K.

Along with many other B vitamins and minerals, green peas are an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. Peas may be used in dishes like pea-and-basil-stuffed ravioli, pea soup with a Thai flair, and pea-and-avocado guacamole.