Diets high in protein have been all the rage for some time now – and for good reason.
The macronutrient is a key building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. As a result, you need to consume good levels of it, along with fat and carbohydrates.
If you’re hitting the gym, tucking into a protein source after your workout can be beneficial for the process of repairing and rebuilding your muscle fibres. That helps ensure your body recovers well and you get the desired muscle growth.
When you think of a high protein diet, the first menu items that might spring to mind could well be from the animal world. Chicken breast contains 20 grams of protein for every 100 grams, as does salmon.
But if you’re sick of constantly snacking on meat and fish, simply don’t eat meat at all, or just need a little more greenery in your diet, then there are plenty of other, vegetable options that offer a protein hit.
Sure, they may not be up there with your tins of tuna. But low in calories and with an array of other health benefits, these are some wonderful additions to your diet:
Low in calories but high in nutrition, broccoli packs quite a punch.
One cup dishes up 2.6 grams of protein as well as folate, manganese, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins c and k. On top of that, it provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
As if that wasn’t enough, it is believed to help reduce the risk of cancer due to its high content of glucosinolates, may help reduce cholesterol levels and can help improve liver health.
With 2 grams of protein in every cup, cauliflower is also low in calories – even more so than broccoli.
In addition, it is a good source of vitamins C and K, along with minerals such as potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and iron.
Glucosinolates, thought to have anticancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects are also in high amounts in cauliflower – although more so when raw.
If you’re just eating these once a year with your Christmas dinner, then you’re missing a trick.
Why? Because one cup of sprouts contains 3 grams of protein and up to 3.3 grams of fibre.
Brussels sprouts are also rich in folate, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium and vitamins K, C, A and B6.
Furthermore, studies have shown that they can promote the growth of intestinal bacteria and improve the health of the gut.
Besides being delicious, a one cup serve of asparagus contains 2.9 grams of protein.
It is also an excellent source of B vitamins, folate, copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins A and K.
On top of that, the green spears are believed to have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. They also offer prebiotic benefits thanks to fructooligosaccharides which stimulate the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria.
You probably don’t eat bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, that often. But one cup contains 1 gram of protein.
It also contains folate, calcium, potassium, manganese, iron and vitamins A, C and K.
Research has also shown it to be rich in antioxidants, particularly the outer leaves, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties.
Some studies have also suggested it could help decrease the risk of prostate cancer and liver cancer.
Popeye had the right idea after all. For one cup of his fave leafy vegetable provides 1 gram of protein – that’s 30% of its calories.
It also delivers 181% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K along with high amounts of folate, manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Plant compounds found in the veggie have been shown to increase antioxidant defence, reduce inflammation, reduce risks of breast cancer and increase nitric oxide which has good implications for heart health.
Reduced oxidative stress and muscle damage were also seen in a study of 20 athletes who took spinach supplements over two weeks.
They may sound like an alien life form, but alfafa sprouts are becoming increasingly trendy.
That could be partly because they dish up 1.3 grams of protein in each cup.
The vegetable also coughs up decent doses of folate, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and vitamins K and C.
Their high content of saponins is believed to help reduce cholesterol levels. They have also been shown to decrease inflammation, reduce the symptoms of menopause and osteoporosis.
Often used simply as an occasional garnish, Watercress merits a little more attention. One cup contains 0.8 grams of protein.
It’ll also help you get your entire recommended daily intake of vitamin K in one hit, with decent amounts of B vitamins, calcium, manganese, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Its phenolic compounds are believed to offer cancer protection, in addition to a high antioxidant content. Eat it raw to truly benefit from its nutritional offering.
Probably the meatiest of veggies, mushrooms contain 2.2 grams of protein in a one cup serving.
The benefits don’t stop there. They are also rich in B vitamins and are also the only vegan, non-fortified source of vitamin D. And don’t forget the selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus.
According to research, beta-glucans found in many mushrooms could improve insulin resistance and lower blood cholesterol levels.
Then there are antioxidants and choline, a nutrient which supports fat absorption and reduces chronic inflammation.
These little round guys pack an impressive 9 grams of protein per cup.
But the good news doesn’t stop there. They are also a good source of vitamin A, C, thiamin, phosphorous, and iron.
On top of that, healthy amounts of B vitamins and folate found in peas can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Do you get a good dose of veggies every day?