If you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or simply an individual attempting to stop eating red meat for better heart health, you may have trouble getting the necessary amount of protein each day. This is because for thousands of years, humanity’s primary sources of protein have been, well, meat.
Yet the meat we ate then was far better for us. It was mostly wild game that grazed naturally. These days, grain-fed cows make for cheap and plentiful burgers, but it is also meat that is high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
This is a tremendous shame because protein is not only a vital component of the human diet, but it also plays a very important role in helping us feel full. The following non-meat foods are great additions to your diet, and all are extremely high in protein.
One of the hallmark flavors of fall is also a great source of protein and various vitamins and minerals. In fact, an ounce of pumpkin seeds actually has more protein than an ounce of ground beef.
Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan (helps battle depression), phytosterols (help prevent cancer and regulate your cholesterol levels), glutamate (helps relieve anxiety), and Zinc (aids proper immune function and bone health). Snack on them casually, or add them to your salad.
Certainly not what comes to most peoples’ minds when the word “protein” is mentioned, but spears of this vegetable nonetheless contain significant amounts of it (eight contain three and a half grams). It is also an excellent source of Vitamin K, which is necessary for proper bone health, as well as Vitamin A, Folate, potassium, and various antioxidants. Drizzle it with olive oil, sauté it, or simply boil it.
Unless you are deathly allergic, chances are you’ve tried peanuts before. This legume (believe it or not, peanuts are actually closer to beans than nuts), also happens to be packed with protein. Just one cup can have as much as 8g of the stuff.
As if this weren’t enough, peanuts are excellent sources of CoQ10 (good for the skin and heart), Resveratrol (helps improve blood flow and reduce bad cholesterol), and Niacin (helps prevent age-related neurological problems and cell damage). Peanuts are also high in dozens of other vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium.
Unlike peanuts or asparagus, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if you’ve never heard of mung-beans. In fact, there’s a better chance that you’ve eaten them than have read their name in an ingredients list (they’re not uncommon in wraps and salads).
Yet these little guys pack a ton of protein for a minimal caloric content. One cup contains 3.5g and not much else. They’re also high in various compounds that lower cholesterol, phytoestrogens that are good for the skin, and dozens of other vitamins and minerals. Grab a cup today and try to ignore their name.
It’s no coincidence that every time Popeye ingested a cup of Spinach his muscles practically exploded. A cup of the stuff cooked has over 5g of protein. It is also excellent for your eyes, brain, bones, and even skin. If you still hold a childhood grudge against the stuff, try the baby variety (uncooked) in a salad. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.