8 Delicious High Protein Vegetables

Most people don't think of vegetables as a major source of protein. But many are actually quite high in protein—high enough that they can add significantly to your daily protein needs.

Knowing which vegetables are packed with protein is especially key if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. It can be tricky to make sure you get enough protein on a meat-restricted diet. Even carnivores can benefit from adding high-protein vegetables to their diets as these vegetables are very nutritious.

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Complete vs. Incomplete Vegetable Proteins

A crucial factor to consider when sourcing your protein from vegetables is that most of them include incomplete rather than complete protein. This matters because whole proteins provide all of the nine essential amino acids the body needs.

Soybeans and quinoa are two of the only plant-based sources of complete protein. Other options still provide ample protein, but you'll need to eat a wide variety of them to end up with a diet rich in all nine of the needed amino acids.

Fun Fact

In addition to the nine essential amino acids, there are 11 more that the body can produce on its own, for a total of 20.

There are many more vegetables to choose from that will boost your protein intake. We've compiled a comprehensive guide of eight of the top high-protein vegetables, including their nutritional benefits and how to use them in recipes.

1

Lentils

lentils on wooden spoons

?R. Tsubin / Getty Images

Nutrition

There's a reason lentils top this list of high-protein vegetables. Ounce for ounce, these tiny legumes contain more protein than virtually any other vegetable.

Each cup of lentils contains 16 grams of protein, which makes up a good portion of the protein you need each day. They are also packed with dietary fiber and micronutrients, such as folate, iron, thiamin, and phosphorus.

Where to Find

You can purchase lentils dried or in cans at the grocery store. If you use dried lentils, plan to soak them in the refrigerator for a few hours prior to cooking them.

Recipes / Use

There are so many delicious ways to use lentils that it's impossible to list them all. Use them ground into a dip for crackers, like hummus, for example. Here are a few other recipes to try:

2

Edamame

Edamame

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

Nutrition

Edamame (immature soybeans) are versatile, simple-to-prepare beans. Half a cup of shelled edamame—about the amount in a typical serving—gets you a whopping 9 grams of protein.

That's around 20% of your total protein need for the day, with dry roasted edamame containing even more protein per serving. This veggie also contains fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin A, and iron.

Where to Find

Edamame is often available in the snack food aisle, near the nuts, and sold in single-serving packs in a variety of different flavors. You can also find plain edamame in the freezer section of your grocery store, either shelled or unshelled.

Recipes / Use

There are plenty of great ways to use this vegetable. The simplest is to roast your own edamame and eat it as a healthy snack food. Or you can put it in recipes such as these:

Edamame is often served steamed as a side dish at Japanese restaurants.

3

Asparagus

Asparagus

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

Nutrition

Asparagus' delicious green sprouts are among the first vegetables to appear in farmer's markets each spring. And they contain a lot more protein than you'd expect, along with lots of other nutrients, such as riboflavin and vitamin K.

Just 10 spears of asparagus provides nearly 4 grams of protein. You might even find it hard to only eat 10 spears of asparagus, especially if it's fresh from the farm—they're that delicious!

Where to Find

Look for asparagus in the produce section of your favorite supermarket. The fresher it is, the better it tastes. Choose asparagus that's standing tall with no limpness in the stalk and no deterioration around the tips.

Recipes / Use

The simplest way to serve this versatile vegetable is roasted or grilled. For more complex flavors, try:

4

Beets

Beets

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman?

Nutrition

One cup of raw sliced beets contains 2.2 grams of protein. That's not a huge amount, but it adds up when you combine beets with other high-protein vegetables to help meet your daily requirements.

What's more, beets contain only a tiny amount of fat, in the form of healthy polyunsaturated fat. Also, they are a good source of folate, manganese, potassium, and fiber.

Where to Find

You can buy beets either canned (which generally come sliced) or fresh. Be aware that many brands of canned beets contain added salt, so you may want to look specifically for no-salt-added varieties.

If you're buying fresh, look for firm purple or golden beets in the produce section. Peeling them is easy, especially after cooking.

Recipes / Use

It's easy to be intimidated by beets. They're bulbous, earthy roots that are difficult for some to envision as part of a meal, especially if you grew up eating the sometimes slimy canned variety.

But once you get to know beets, you'll likely love how they add beautiful color and a terrific, sweet-tangy taste to your dishes. Beets are particularly delicious when roasted in the oven. But they are also delicious in:

5

Potatoes

potatoes on barbecue grill

?Andrei Puzakov / EyeEm / Getty Images

Nutrition

Many people think they should avoid potatoes because they're high in carbohydrates. But potatoes also contain a significant amount of protein that actually helps to balance out those carbs.

Just one medium-sized potato gives you over 3 grams of protein. So, if you eat a large stuffed potato or serving of mashed or sautéed potatoes, you'll get plenty of protein. Potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C and heart-healthy potassium.

Where to Find

You'll find potatoes throughout the grocery store, from canned to ready-to-eat mashed, but the best way to buy potatoes is fresh. Look for Russet potatoes, red potatoes, white potatoes, and even purple potatoes.

Purple potatoes are a gorgeous color and actually contain much more protein than regular potatoes. Some have 6 grams of protein per purple spud.

Recipes / Use

Oven-roasted potatoes are about as easy a recipe as you can find, but there are so many other great ways to prepare potatoes, such as:

6

Broccoli

Broccoli

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

Nutrition

One cup of raw broccoli contains nearly 2 grams of protein and only 24 calories, and 1 cup of steamed broccoli contains nearly twice that amount at almost 4 grams. While this is only a fraction of the protein you need each day, don't discount it.

There are so many other health benefits of eating broccoli, which contains practically no fat and is high in fiber. Plus, research has shown that a diet high in broccoli may help to reduce your risk of certain cancers including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer.

Where to Find

Look for firm, bright green broccoli in the produce section or purchase frozen broccoli florets.

Recipes / Use

There are so many ways to use broccoli that it's impossible to list them all. You can use it in:

7

Bok Choy

bok choy

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

Nutrition

Bok choy is extremely nutritious with plenty of fiber, vitamin C, folate, calcium, vitamin B-6, and beta carotene in every stalk. Plus, bok choy contains a significant amount of protein: 1 cup of cooked bok choy has over 2.5 grams.

As with broccoli, you can't meet all your daily protein needs with bok choy. But this leafy green vegetable adds a protein boost to any dish, with practically no calories or fat.

Where to Find

You can find fresh bok choy in most larger supermarkets, especially those that feature extensive produce sections. Look for tight stalks with fresh, unwilted tops. You'll find that the entire stalk (minus the very bottom) is edible either raw in salads or cooked.

Recipes / Use

Bok choy is a close relative of broccoli and cabbage, but it has a lighter taste that some people prefer. It's found most often in Chinese and other Asian cuisines, so you may have eaten bok choy without even realizing it.

There are plenty of healthy and easy ways to prepare bok choy. Use it in any dish that might feature broccoli or other green vegetables, such as:

Bok choy is also a popular addition to a raw food diet, where it can be an easy way to add in a little extra protein.

8

Green Peas

Peas

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman?

Nutrition

Green peas are tiny but pack a significant amount of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C, thiamin, and folate. They're also one of the most versatile vegetables around.

Since green peas are a legume, they're also pretty high in protein. One-half cup of raw green peas contains about 2 grams of protein and over 4 grams of dietary fiber. If you make a habit of adding peas to any vegetable dish, those nutrients will add up fast.

Where to Find

Although it's possible to purchase fresh peas at farmer's markets and in the grocery store—peas grow quickly and are one of the first vegetables available in late spring—most people buy frozen peas, which are easy to store and defrost quickly.

Recipes / Use

Green peas can add protein and nutrition to almost any dish. For example, try:

A Word From Verywell

There are plenty of high-protein vegetables that can help you meet your daily protein requirements, regardless of whether you follow a plant-based diet or if you eat meat. If you're looking for more options, kale, sprouts, artichokes, chickpeas, corn, and pumpkin seeds are also good protein sources.

Ideally, mix and match vegetables and experiment with salads, stir-fries, and other dishes to add variety (and extra protein) to your diet.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Lentils, from dried, no added fat. Published Oct 30, 2020.

  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Edamame, cooked. Published Oct 30, 2020.

  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Asparagus, raw. Published April 1, 2019.

  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Beets, raw. Published Oct 30, 2020.

  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Potato, NFS. Published April, 2020.

  6. U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Broccoli, raw. Published December 16, 2019.

  7. American Institute for Cancer Research. AICR Food Facts: Foods That Fight Cancer: Broccoli & Cruciferous Vegetables. Updated December 10, 2019.

  8. U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Cabbage, chinese (pak-choi), cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. Published April 1, 2019.

  9. U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Peas, green, raw. Published April 1, 2019.

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