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Quick Guide to Plant-based Proteins

BEANS

What? Legumes, such as kidney, black, pinto, and garbanzo (chickpeas)

How much? Around 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (170 grams). 

Other nutrients? Good sources of complex carbs, fiber, iron, folate, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and several beneficial plant compounds1,2

LENTILS

What? A type of legume; small, disk shaped

How much?  18 grams protein per cup

Other nutrients? Good source of fiber (provides over half of recommended daily fiber intake in single cup); folate, manganese, iron, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds3,4

NUTRITIONAL YEAST

What? Deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast; sold in flake or powdered form

How much? 8 grams protein per half ounce (16g); complete source of plant protein 

Other nutrients? Good source of fiber, zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, and all the B vitamins, when fortified5

NUTS AND SEEDS

What? A fruit consisting of a hard shell around an edible kernel, such as walnut, almond, sesame, and sunflower

How much? 5 to 7 grams of protein per one ounce

Other nutrients? Good sources of fiber and healthy fats, iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin E, B vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds.6–11

SEITAN

What? Made from gluten, the primary protein in wheat; pressed into blocks 

How much? Contains ~25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces

Other nutrients? Good source of selenium; contains small amounts of iron, calcium, and phosphorus12

SOY PRODUCTS

What? Edamame—immature soybeans that have been steamed or boiled; Tofu—Bean curds pressed into blocks; Tempeh—Mature soy beans that have been cooked and slightly fermented and pressed into blocks; Soy milk—Ground soy beans mixed with water and boiled; usually fortified with nutrients 

How much? Soy beans are a whole source of protein; Edamame, Tofu, and Tempeh—12 to 20 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce; Soy milk—6 grams of protein per cup

Other nutrients? Edamame—good source of folate, vitamin K, fiber, calcium and iron; Tofu—good source of magnesium, phosphorus, B vitamins, calcium, and iron;Tempeh—contains probiotics, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium; Soy milk—good source of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B1213–16

VEGETABLES

What? Vegetables with the most protein include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and corn (though corn is technically a grain).

How much? Around 4 to 5 grams of protein per cup, cooked 

Other nutrients? Contain a wide variety of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds17–24

Editor’s Note

Consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine how much protein you need and which sources are best for you.

Sources

1. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Beans, black, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt. April 2018. Https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173735/nutrients. Accessed 23 May 2022.

2. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt. April 2018. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173757/nutrients. Accessed 23 May 2022. 

3. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt. April 2018. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172421/nutrients. Accessed 23 May 2022.

4. Akbar A, Shreenath AP. High fiber diet. 8 May 2022.  StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-.

5. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Nutritional yeast. 19 Dec 2020. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1991802/nutrients. Accessed 23 May 2022.

6. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Nuts, walnuts, English. 1 Apr 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170187/nutrients.

7. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Nuts, almonds. Apr 1 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170567/nutrients. 

8. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Nuts, almond butter, plain, without salt added. 1 Apr 2019.  https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168588/nutrients

9. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, dried. 1 Apr 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170562/nutrients

10. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Seeds, sesame seeds, whole, dried. 1 Apr 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170150/nutrients

11. de Souza RGM,  Schincaglia RM, Pimentel GD, Mota JF. Nuts and human health outcomes: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2017 Dec; 9(12): 1311. 

12. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Seitan wheat protein cubed, seitan. 7 Apr 2020. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1470783/nutrients. Accessed 23 May 2022.

13. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Edamame, frozen, prepared. April 2018. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168411/nutrients. Accessed 23 May 2022.

14. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Tofu, hard, prepared with nigari. April 2018. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174291/nutrients. Accessed 23 May 2022.

15. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Tempeh. April 2018. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174272/nutrients. Accessed 23 May 2022.

16. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Soy milk. 31 Dec 2018. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1097542/nutrients. Accessed 23 May 2022.

17. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Broccoli, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. 1 Apr 2019 https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169967/nutrients

18. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1 Apr 2019https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168463/nutrients

19. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Asparagus, cooked, boiled, drained. 1 Apr 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168390/nutrients

20. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Artichokes, (globe or french), cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. 1 Apr 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168386/nutrients

21. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Potatoes, baked, flesh, without salt. 1 Apr 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170033/nutrients

22. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Sweet potato, cooked, boiled, without skin. 1 Apr 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168484/nutrients

23. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Brussels sprouts, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. 1 Apr 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169971/nutrients

24. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Corn, sweet, white, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt. 1 Apr 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168540/nutrients    

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