I'm pretty sure that everyone reading this knows that protein is essential to their overall health and well-being. But have you ever wondered exactly why that is the case? Long story short, protein is a macronutrient that is found in every part of our body because it's a part of every cell. Protein helps to build and repair tissues in our system while also being what helps to make enzymes, hormones, muscle bones and more. Our hair? It's mostly protein. Our nails? They are mostly protein too. Bottom line, there's basically no way we can function properly without protein being a part of our daily diet.
And what has a lot of protein in it? Meat, hands down. Yet what do you do if you happen to be a vegetarian or vegan because, as a woman, you need around 46 grams of protein a day (56 grams if you're a man)? Good question. Luckily, there are several non-animal-related foods that can get you the protein that your body craves without you having to betray your personal eating preferences. As far as the ones that can get you the most protein possible, I've got a list of 12 of 'em right here.
If you're a vegan, you'll need to pass on eggs because they are a dairy product. But if you're a vegetarian, technically you can eat them because they aren't considered to be what falls into the "animal flesh" category. As far as health benefits go, eggs are high in selenium and riboflavin (Vitamin B2), along with having a good amount of vitamins A and E, folate, calcium and zinc in them. Eggs also contain choline (which helps to build healthy cell membranes), they help to produce "good cholesterol" that can lower heart disease and they have the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in them to help with keeping your vision in peak condition.
Eggs are also dope on the protein tip because one egg contains about six grams of it. Another great thing about eggs is they contain amino acids; ones that your system is able to turn into protein once you consume them.
2. Greek Yogurt
This is another heads up for vegetarians only because Greek yogurt is also a dairy product. If you've ever wondered what makes Greek yogurt different from all of the rest, it's because the whey that is in other yogurts is removed from it. As a result, Greek yogurt doesn't contain any lactose (a sugar that is found in milk). When it comes to Greek yogurt's benefits, it's got calcium, probiotics and Vitamin B12. The combination makes this particular food great for maintaining bone health, boosting metabolism, improving gut health, lowering blood pressure and even helping to treat depression.
And just how much protein is in this kind of yogurt? Oh, it's got a lot! If you eat one container of it, you'll be giving your system somewhere between 14-17 grams of protein. Whew!
3. Sun-Dried Tomatoes
If you keep tomatoes in your refrigerator, they are able to last anywhere from 10-14 days. But if you want to be able to enjoy them longer, one thing you can do is let them dry out in the sun or oven (you can learn how to go the oven route here). Considering this as an alternative is good because tomatoes are full of fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, several forms of Vitamin B and also vitamins C and K. Tomatoes are also a great source of antioxidants which makes them a great fruit to fight off free radicals, reduce bodily inflammation, improve your digestive health and, even boost collagen levels so that your skin looks younger for longer.
When it comes to protein consumption, it doesn't get much better than tomatoes. The reason why I say that is because you can get as much as eight grams of protein for every cup of them that you eat. So, if you put a few of these on a salad, you will have a lot of the protein intake that you need for any particular day.
Broccoli is a great source of all kinds of goodness. It's full of vitamins A, C, E, K and iron, calcium, potassium, folic acid and magnesium. So, no wonder broccoli is the kind of veggie that is able to support strong bones, reduce the risk of heart disease and keep your eyes in great shape (thanks to the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that are also in them). As a bonus, broccoli even contains cancer-fighting compounds.
As if all of that wasn't impressive enough, something else that broccoli's got plenty of is protein. As much as five grams per serving (which is a cup). Just make sure that you steam it if you want to get the most out of it. Preparing broccoli any other way can zap some of its nutrients.
If you're someone who has a heaping bowl of oatmeal, at least a couple of times a week, good for you. Oats contain a massive amount of manganese (191 percent of the reference daily intake), along with a high amount of phosphorus, magnesium, copper, fiber, thiamin (Vitamin B1) and some iron and zinc too. Oats will also do your body good because they've got the antioxidants avenanthramides that can lower your blood pressure, improve your blood sugar levels, reduce your colon cancer risk, strengthen your immune system and, because it's high in good carbs, oats can give you a good boost of energy too.
Oats are a good way to get more protein. If you have a half-cup of 'em, you'll get someone around 13 grams. Impressive.
6. Lima Beans
Is it just me or are lima beans a super acquired taste? Either way, in just a sec, I'm gonna blow your mind with how much protein is in this particular vegetable. But first, its other health benefits. As far as vitamins and minerals go, lima beans can get you a good amount of manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and folate. These are the kind of beans that can help to lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, support your nervous system and, thanks to the fiber that's also in them, lima beans can help to keep you regular while detoxifying your system too.
But here's the real clincher. Guess how much protein is in a half-cup of lima beans? 21 freakin' grams! Yep, that's the most out of any other food on this list and, if you eat a cup of 'em, you've pretty much taken in all of the protein that your body needs for the day. No wonder grandma used to make us eat them so often, huh?
Unlike a lot of fruits that are in their peak during any other season but winter, guava is the opposite. It is at its best between November and April. Guava is a tropical fruit that's really good for you because it's high in Vitamin C, potassium and fiber. It is able to help to lower your blood sugar levels, improve your heart health, boost your digestive health, strengthen your immunity and even lessen the pain of period cramps (how cool is that?).
One of the best things about guava, though, is it's pretty off the charts when it comes to being a wonderful source of protein. While it's a pretty low-calorie fruit (somewhere around 120 calories per cup), you're able to get yourself 4 ½ grams of protein per cup too.
Ah, potatoes. Now this is the kind of food that sometimes I've gotta talk myself out of eating (because everything must be done in moderation, right?). I don't know what it is exactly, but whether it's a French fry or a baked one (white or sweet; it doesn't really matter), potatoes just feel so damn comforting. Plus, there are several things that make them good for us. Potatoes are a great source of vitamins B6 and C. Potatoes have a ton of potassium in them (a potato contains more potassium than a banana does). Believe it or not, potatoes are also fat, sodium and cholesterol-free. Added benefits include the fact that potatoes have no gluten in them, can help to fight off free radicals and even has studies stating that they can hinder the growth of liver and colon cancer cells.
Also, no matter how you prefer to prepare your potato, you can get a nice amount of protein from it. In fact, a medium-sized potato will give you around four grams of protein. Dope.
Coconut, taste wise, is something that is difficult to describe, I won't lie. Personally, I like coconut milk and even dried coconut. It's a food that's considered to be a fruit, nut and seed that contains healthy fats, is high in electrolytes (to keep you hydrated), contains lauric acid (which can fight bacteria in your system), and it has antifungal and antibacterial properties that will fight oral decay and help to prevent bladder infection, kidney disease, thyroid dysfunction and skin and scalp infections too.
Coconut is another food that makes the high-in-protein list because, if you eat a medium-sized coconut, you're actually getting somewhere around 13 grams of protein; that's close to one-third of the daily recommended amount that your system needs.
10. Hemp Seeds
OK, so let me say off top that, although these seeds have the word "hemp" in them, don't let that get you all excited. Hemp seeds are seeds that come from the Cannabis sativa plant and they don't produce any sort of mind-altering effect. Still, if you add these into your diet, they can benefit your health in a myriad of ways. Hemp seeds are a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (which is an omega-3 fatty acid), many forms of Vitamin B, Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and folate. Eating hemp seeds will help to reduce bodily inflammation, boost heart health, heal acne, reduce symptoms related to rheumatoid arthritis and, they can help to protect your brain as well.
Hemp seeds are really impressive when it comes to how much protein that you can get out of them. You can actually get close to 10 grams of protein if you consume as little as three tablespoons of them. And, since hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids, they are the kind of seeds that are on the list of being a superfood too.
11. Green Peas
Green peas are something that I can get down with. Like carrots, they're a semi-sweet veggie. They've got an impressive amount of vitamins A and K as well as folate, fiber, calcium and manganese that work together to do things for your health like helping to protect you from getting heart disease and controlling your blood sugar.
And yes, they are another vegetable that is a good protein source. How much? Well, a half-cup can get you somewhere around four grams which is actually three times more than what a half-cup of carrots will provide.
12. Sprouted Bread
If you've got a craving for a sandwich, don't deprive yourself. Just be intentional to make it out of sprouted bread. What's that? It's bread that has been made from whole grains that have germinated. Sprouted bread is beneficial because, since its grains have literally sprouted, you are able to get more nutritional value when it comes to vitamins B and C and fiber with each slice. Sprouted bread also contains the enzymes phytase and amylase which makes it easier to digest, is lower in gluten and has higher antioxidant levels in it (like beta-carotene) to protect your system from free radicals.
If you opt for eating a sprouted bread brand like Ezekiel Bread, the millet, barley and beans that are in it will give you as much as three grams of protein a slice; that's pretty impressive if you're looking for just one more non-meat way to get your daily protein fix. So, what are you waiting for? Eat up, sis!
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