Vegetarian Food and Nutrition

Top 10 Best Protein-Rich Foods for the Vegetarians

There is a common misbelief that a vegetarian diet does not contain an appropriate amount of protein. Well, that’s not true. Many of the food experts believe that a well-planned vegetarian diet can provide us with all the nutrients we need.

Also, to a greater extent, people are interested in following vegetarian or vegan diets or reducing their use of animal products. And switching to vegetarian products is getting easier with more fortified and nutritious food options available.

Though one question may arise that why we need protein? So answer for that is, protein is a macronutrient needed for developing muscle mass. However, protein is comprised of amino acids, chemically.

Moreover, breaking down of protein in the body fuels the muscle mass and contributes to metabolism. Also, it enhances immunity. That is why it is important. 

So, here we are listing some top foods for vegetarians that are protein-rich:

1. Tofu, Tempeh, and Edamame

The soy products are among the powerful resources of protein. However, the content of protein in these varies with the way of soy preparation:

  • Firm tofu (soybean curds) 

It contains about 10 g of protein per ½ cup.

  • Edamame beans (immature soybeans) 

It contains 8.5 g of protein per ½ cup.

  • Tempeh 

It contains about 15 g of protein per ½ cup.

  • Tofu

It takes on the flavor of the dish it is cooked in, so it is a versatile addition to a meal.

Usually, people try tofu, as an alternative to meat, in some dishes like a sandwich, soup, kung pao chicken, and sweet and sour chicken.

Rather than protein, these soy products also contain a good amount of iron and calcium that makes them healthy substitutes for dairy products.

2. Peanut Butter

Only 2-tablespoons of peanut butter hold 7.7 grams of protein and 188 calories. And, eating it can meet 15% of our daily protein requirement. That means 2-spoons of peanut butter a day gives 8 grams of protein. 

Even a traditional toast can be flavored with this all-time favorite. And, if not with toast, add it in smoothies or shakes. Both ways, it’s a delicious vegetarian option to intake plenty of proteins. As another benefit is, it reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes as well.

3. Seitan 

It is a very popular protein source among vegetarians. 

Since it resembles the look and texture of meat when cooked, it is considered as mock types of meat. However, it is made of gluten, the main protein in wheat. Therefore, other names of Seitan are wheat meat or wheat gluten. 

It comprises of 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). No wonder, it is one of the richest protein sources on this list.

Apart from protein, it also contains a good amount of selenium & small amounts of calcium, iron, and phosphorus. It can be sautéed, grilled, and pan-fried. Hence, it can be easily combined with varieties of recipes.

But make sure if one is suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, they must avoid seitan.

4. Cottage Cheese

There are 28 grams of protein and 163 calories in 1 cup of cottage cheese, meeting 56% of one's daily protein requirement. That makes it the richest plant protein source on this list.

Generally, each half cup of cottage cheese comprises 13 gm of proteins. This is one great, inexpensive, and healthy food items. 

Besides protein, it also comprises calcium for good bones. To eat this, we can mix it with vegetables or fruit to make a great dish. It is a good option for weight loss.

Also, cheddar (1 slice – 14% of daily value), mozzarella (6 slices – 75% of daily value), and Parmesan cheese (1 tablespoon – 4% of daily value) are also rich in protein.

5. Greek Yogurt

There are 11 grams of protein and 130 calories (meets 22% of your daily protein requirement) only in 2/3 cup of Greek yogurt.

In addition to protein, Greek yogurt also contains calcium and vitamin B12. 

Our body cannot create the mineral on its own. Therefore, we need to get it externally. And undoubtedly for the bones, calcium is great. 

Also, vitamin B12 is needed for the development of red blood cells as well as brain functioning. Apart from all, it also has a favorable effect on the gut bacteria.

6. Lentils

Green or red lentils hold a large amount of fiber, protein, and key nutrients involve potassium and iron. Moreover, there are 8.84 g of protein per ½ cup in cooked lentils.

Hence, to add protein to a lunch or dinner routine, lentils are a great source available. We can add it to salads, curries, or rice to give another portion of protein.

7. Chickpeas

Chickpeas (cooked) carries around 7.25 g per ½ cup protein.

The best thing about chickpeas is they are highly versatile with plenty of recipes. For example, we can add it to curries, spice it with paprika, or roast them in the oven.

Also, it is possible to add it to hummus that is made from chickpea paste or to a sandwich for a protein-rich and healthy alternative to butter.

8. Almonds

Almost 16.5 g of protein per ½ cup is offered by Almonds. Also, they provide a good amount of vitamin E that is good for the eyes and skin.

9. Potatoes

Around 8 g of protein is available per serving of large baked potato. Not only protein but also potatoes are high in other nutrients like vitamin C and potassium.

Also, increase the protein content by adding 2-tablespoons of hummus for a flavorful snack which is healthier than butter-covered potatoes because there is around  3 g of protein in two tablespoons of hummus.

10. Amaranth and Quinoa

It is also called ancient or gluten-free grains, quinoa, and amaranth. It grows from grasses as other cereal grains do. Therefore, they're technically considered "pseudocereals."

Although more commonly known grains, we can prepare it or ground into flours.

It offers 8–9 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml) and also it is a complete source of protein. We can say it is rare among grains and pseudocereals.

Moreover, they are good sources of complex carbs, manganese, fiber, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium.

The Bottom Line

Hence it is proved that going vegetarian or vegan only needs some planning. So, people who avoid animal products can eat balanced diets that support a healthy body and reduce the risks of some diseases with the right protein-based plant food.

Also, among vegetarians and vegans, protein deficiencies are far from being the norm. And people are interested in increasing their plant protein intake for a variety of reasons. The above list is anyone interested in incorporating more plant-based proteins into their diet.

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