A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they might lack sufficient protein. However, many experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can provide you with all the nutrients you need (1, 2, 3, 4). That said, certain plant foods contain significantly more protein than others. And higher-protein diets can promote muscle strength, satiety and weight loss (5, 6, 7).
Here are 17 plant foods that contain a high amount of protein per serving.
Seitan is a popular protein source for many vegetarians and vegans. It’s made from gluten, the main protein in wheat. Unlike many soy-based mock meats, it resembles the look and texture of meat when cooked. Also known as wheat meat or wheat gluten, it contains about 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). This makes it the richest plant protein source on this list (8).
Seitan is also a good source of selenium and contains small amounts of iron, calcium and phosphorus (8). You can find this meat alternative in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, or make your own version with vital wheat gluten using this recipe.
Seitan can be pan-fried, sautéed and even grilled. Therefore, it can be easily incorporated in a variety of recipes. However, seitan should be avoided by people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
BOTTOM LINE: Seitan is a mock meat made from wheat gluten. Its high protein content, meat-like texture and versatility make it a popular plant-based protein choice among many vegetarians and vegans.
2. Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame
Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans. Soybeans are considered a whole source of protein. This means that they provide the body with all the essential amino acids it needs.
Edamame are immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled prior to consumption and can be eaten on their own or added to soups and salads.
Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheesemaking. Tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans prior to pressing them into a patty. Tofu doesn’t have much taste, but easily absorbs the flavor of the ingredients it’s prepared with. Comparatively, tempeh has a characteristic nutty flavor.
Both tofu and tempeh can be used in a variety of recipes, ranging from burgers to soups and chilis.
All three contain iron, calcium and 10-19 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (9, 10, 11). Edamame are also rich in folate, vitamin K and fiber. Tempeh contains a good amount of probiotics, B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus.
BOTTOM LINE:Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans, a complete source of protein. They also contain good amounts of several other nutrients and can be used in a variety of recipes.
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