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10 of the Best Vegetable Protein Sources

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The Best Vegetable Protein Sources


Vegetable Protein

When you hear the word athlete, it's natural to assume or picture a big, muscular, hard bodied man or Amazon woman. Athletes are always looking for that edge in whatever sport/competition they are competing in. So this raises the question of which is better for the body, animal proteins or vegetable proteins? It has been asked a billion times and will keep being asked as long as there is not a definitive answer. Can you develop big, chiseled muscles being a vegetarian? In the animal kingdom, it's the the big predators or meat eaters that are the biggest, meanest and rule the land. I'm not insinuating you can't be a big, bad and mean vegetarian. It will be a little more difficult without consuming animal proteins, but it can and has been done before. In fact, there are numerous professional athletes that were very successful in their sport/field and were vegetarian by choice. Athletes such as Joe Namath, Super bowl Champion, Hall of Fame quarterback of the New York Jets, Bill Pearl, A four time Mr. Universe body building champion, Robert Parrish, NBA Championship center of the Boston Celtics, Billy Jean King and Martina Navratilova, professional tennis stars that dominated the sport, and even current MLB (Major League Baseball) player, Detroit Tiger first basemen, Prince Fielder are all vegetarians. There have been so many productive athletes that are vegetarian which keeps the fire in the argument of which source of proteins is better going. Me personally, I don't think I could go without red meat, but that's just me and my opinion. If vegetable proteins are your choice, these are some of the best protein sources you can find, and their right outside in the garden.

Broccoli Protein Content


Protein Composition

If you're not a Certified Personal Trainer, dietitian or nutritionist, then more than likely you may be unaware of how to determine the protein composition of the food that you consume. The first question you might want to ask is how do you know the protein composition of what you're eating. You can easily start to figure this out by reading the nutritional facts label on the food product. For example, if you buy a product that says it has 250 calories per serving. The label also states that it offers 6 grams of protein, per serving. Since protein provides you with 4 calories per gram, that would mean that only 24 of those 250 calories actually come from protein (4 calories times 6 grams of protein per serving). Proteins can come in many different sources. Animal proteins are normally more complete than vegetable proteins, because of the essential amino acids contained in them. Vegetable proteins will not contain all the different sources of proteins.

High Protein Foods


Shredded Brussels Sprouts


Shredded Brussels Sprouts

  • 1/2 lb Sliced Bacon, Optional
  • 1/4 cup Butter, or subsitute
  • 2/3 cup Pine nuts
  • 2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, Cored and shredded
  • 3 Green Onions, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon Seasoning Salt, pepper to taste

Top Vegetable Protein Sources

If you remember watching Pop eye the Sailor man when you were a kid growing up, he would always down a can of Spinach, making him a lot stronger and able to beat down the hated and much larger Bluto. Well Pop eye actually made the right call on his favorite vegetable of choice. Spinach, is very low in calories and an excellent source vitamins and minerals, happens to be the best source of vegetable proteins with a protein composition of approximately 49%. Kale is not quite as popular as Spinach, however it's very rich in nutrients and better known for it's extraordinary health benefits which include the lowering of overall cholesterol and protecting from cancers comes in second place with a protein composition of 46%. I think it's a safe assessment to say that most of us hated eating Broccoli growing up as a kid, but with a high content of potassium in it which assists in maintaining the nervous system and brain function, the magnesium that helps regulate blood pressure and the Vitamin C that fights free radicals, it comes in a close third with a 45% protein composition. Part of the cabbage family, broccoli also has cholesterol lowering properties. Cauliflower, like broccoli is part of the cabbage family as well, is reproduced by seeds and comes in several different colors (white, green, or purple). A very good source of vitamin C and manganese, has antioxidant benefits and have been associated with the prevention of different types of cancer and cataracts, comes in fourth place with a composition of about 40%. Mushrooms will round out the top five coming in at 39%. Rich in vitamins and minerals, you can pretty much top anything with mushrooms.

Rating Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Green Peas


Other Vegetable & Non-Meat Protein Sources

There are many other vegetables of choice that you can get a good source of protein from. Green peas, cabbage, parsley slides, green peppers, and cucumbers all have a protein composition between 24 and 34%. If you like tomatoes in or on everything, their composition is around 20%. Even the protein sources that are meat are really not that pure all by themselves. Sources such as Eggs (13%), Chicken (24%) and Beef (26%), which are the most popular choices of most people, athletes or otherwise, as you can see by their numbers, need to be combined with others to ensure the best possible nutritional and health benefits. Whether your an elite athlete, gym rat, or just trying to stay in shape and maintain your health, your diet should consist of a variety of different proteins from milk, eggs, whey and the afore mentioned vegetables on a daily basis, especially if building big muscle is on your agenda. A variety of different types of nuts, beans and tofu are also good sources of non meat proteins. However if you have some kind of underlying health condition that limits your consumption of meat or not eating meat and vegetarian is just your choice of lifestyle, the vegetables listed above can provide your body with the adequate amount of necessary protein that it requires on a day to day basis, while keeping you healthy, in shape and able to have the same productivity athletically as the big meat eaters.

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Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on August 09, 2015:

I have been a strict, label-reading vegetarian since the mid 19680's. I have and had many reasons for eschewing meat, and I will not partake anymore; not even things that are ancillary to meat production. For example, I buy shoes made only of man-made materials, and I won't eat jello (gelatin)!

I thank you for this honest and informative article. Nuts and beans do rate higher than some of the green veggies on the protein scale, but they also have other nutrients the beans and grains do not. The point is to strike a balance.

I have my own article on why humans are not even designed to eat meat, but that's another matter. Dave Scott, a vegetarian and, was the only man to win the Ironman Triathlon multiple times.

Voted up, interesting and useful.

Low Carb Food on February 22, 2015:

can I just choose broccoli from the low carb menu, and peanuts/peanut butter from the healthy fats menu? because I love broccoli and peanut butter. lol.

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swilliams on April 09, 2014:

I love eating spinach especially when I lack energy. You did a great job pinpointing the key factors of vegetable protein sources. Thanks! Voted up! Very Useful Info.

Kelly A Burnett from United States on March 05, 2014:

Fascinating topic. I have never considered this before - great subject. All I ever think of is beef and cheese - what a delightful change. Thank you!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 17, 2014:

Great hub and so useful. Your tips are well-explained eating the correct foods is very important.

VioletteRose from Atlanta on January 16, 2014:

I am a vegetarian, this is really very useful information. Red kidney beans is also so much of protein which is great for those who follow a vegetarian diet. Thanks for sharing this hub!

Rebecca from USA on January 08, 2014:

great hub. I'm not a vegetarian, but I eat very little meat and always need to be looking for protein sources to stay healthy. I'm not trying to be a body builder, but I also don't want muscle wasting. Thanks for sharing this Alphadogg16.

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on January 04, 2014:

Excellent article. My favorite protein veggie is chickpeas (much higher than spinach). Enjoyed your research and voted up!

Kevin W (author) from Texas on December 19, 2013:

Thanks for the read/idea Andy, that's another hub that I can put together for you.

Andy Aitch from UK & South East Asian Region on December 19, 2013:

Hi Kevin,

Great hub this, but if there's one thing I was hoping to find was a bit about food preparation, which can make or break the goodness of vegetables. Maybe you could add a section for that, or do a new hub just on the topic, as this post is mainly about the protein in vegetables ;)

So I was just wondering about the nutritional loss that happens through the cooking process? I've been hearing for years now that microwaving strips nutrients out of food, but earlier today I read a piece from a nutritionist that microwaving has little effect on the nutrient content of vegetables, whereas over boiling seems to be the fastest way to strip them of their goodness (I thought boiling and steaming were the best way to prepare veggies)? It's hard to know what to believe sometimes, but the reason for my question is that there may be times when we think we're eating healthily, but we might not be getting the full health benefits from many of our vegetables if we're not cooking them the right way.

Thanks in advance,

Andy Aitch

Kevin W (author) from Texas on December 18, 2013:

@idigwebsites, I love popeye as a

Thanks for the read thumbi7, RonElFran,LVidoni5, I appreciate it

Express10, people know that its good for them, but choose to continue to eat unhealthy.

H C Palting from East Coast on December 14, 2013:

Many people eat too much meat and simple carbs. This one behavior is a common reason for ill health. This hub is a great reminder of better choices that are available to us, some of which contain more vitamins and minerals that some meats. I eat the heck out of broccoli by the way :)

Leone Vidoni from Portland, Oregon on December 05, 2013:

Ya… they don't write articles like this at Bubblews. I guess that's why I'm still here.

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on November 27, 2013:

Good information, Alphadogg16. I never thought os spinach as a protein source! Thanks.

JR Krishna from India on November 27, 2013:

Useful information

idigwebsites from United States on November 27, 2013:

Hahahah. How I am amused about the Popeye thing. I thought it's just for comedic effect, but you prove that there may be an actual basis why Popeye eats spinach and he gets so strong because of it. The creator of Popeye must have done a lot of research. :)

Anyway, I'm not a vegetarian (and I don't think I will be) but fortunately for me I love to eat veggies as well. Your suggestions make me think of shifting my diet for a time -- I love beans and legumes as well. Anyway, balanced diet is still the best form of diet.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on November 26, 2013:

I never knew that some veggies have this much protein in them. Spinach is inexpensive and I can cook it in many different ways. Great info my friend.

Dianna Mendez on November 25, 2013:

I love vegetables and try to get in my daily quota before retiring at night. Thanks for the reminder that they can be a great source of protein.

Mary Craig from New York on November 24, 2013:

Good information Alpha dog, not just for atheletes but for everyone. Time to eat our veggies!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Kevin W (author) from Texas on November 24, 2013:

Thank you all for the read. @ Marie Flint, I always appreciate your insight, however in terms of protein composition, spinach is King of the vegetables

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on November 24, 2013:

Sprouted nuts and seeds are already broken down into amino acids, which are easily digested. With all our meat consumption, Americans have the highest heart attack and cancer rates in the world. One of the sayings at Hippocrates Health Institute, where I worked in the mid 70s, was, "The more protein you eat, the more you need." At the cellular level, the breakdown occurs faster with high protein intake. Cancer patients were advised not to eat any protein at all. Raw vegetable juices and wheatgrass therapy were the fare. And, above all, a positive outlook helps keep the body young, with the organs working properly. Kale, by the way, is superior to spinach, which contains oxalic acid, which breaks down in steaming.

JPSO138 from Cebu, Philippines, International on November 24, 2013:

I am not entirely a vegetarian but I do love to eat vegetables. Aside from the the proteins, vegetable are also high in beta carotine. They are indeed good for our body and health. Great hub and very informative indeed. Voted up and useful.

David from Birmingham, UK on November 23, 2013:

Very interesting information on those vegetables. The best sources of non-animal protein are nuts and beans though, but they are not as good as the animal sources as you say. I did not know Bill Pearl was vegetarian :)

Rebecca from USA on November 22, 2013:

Great hub. I'm mostly a veggie eater, but found some things here that has caused me to think it's time to make some diet changes.

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