20 High-Protein Vegetables to Add to Your Diet

Pop quiz: Protein is A) an essential macronutrient that your body needs to build and repair muscle, and produce hormones and enzymes that keep you functioning; B) found in peas, corn and asparagus; or C) both A and B.

If you knew the answer is C, congrats, because it turns out protein isn’t something you can only get from eating meat, seafood, legumes, tofu, yogurt, cheese, nuts and eggs. While those are the best food sources, protein is also found in small amounts in fruits and vegetables.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, adults should aim for a daily minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 7 grams for every 20 pounds. A half-cup serving of any given vegetable will generally provide less than ten grams of protein, so sure, you’d have to eat pounds of broccoli to meet your daily requirement without another protein source. The real benefits to eating a vegetable-rich diet are the other vitamins and nutrients the food group offers, plus filling fiber and energy-sustaining carbs. And if you combine your daily dose of vegetables with another protein-rich food, then you’re really cooking with gas.

Here, 20 high-protein vegetables* to add to your diet (plus recipe ideas to inspire you).

*All nutrition data sourced from the USDA.

30 High-Protein Meals That Aren’t Boring Steak and Potatoes

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1. Edamame

Total protein: 9 grams per ½ cup, cooked

For being so bite-size, edamame—cooked soybeans—pack a punch of protein, as well as fiber, calcium, folate, iron and vitamin C. Try them roasted, boiled and seasoned or pureed into a dip.

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2. Lentils

Total protein: 8 grams per ½ cup, cooked

Lentils are super high in fiber, potassium, folate, iron and, yep, protein, so they make an especially good meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. Plus, they’re versatile enough to go in casseroles, soups and salads alike.

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3. Black Beans

Total protein: 8 grams per ½ cup, cooked

Whether you choose dried or canned black beans, you’ll find a balance of protein, carbs and fiber that makes them filling and nutritious. They’re also rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc. We like them in chili, tacos and even hummus.

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4. Cannellini Beans

Total protein: 8 grams per ½ cup, cooked

The versatile cannellini bean (sometimes called a white bean) boasts tons of fiber, plus essential nutrients copper, folate and iron and heart-protecting antioxidants. They’re creamy, earthy and go great in salads with squash or tomato-based soups and stews.

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5. Chickpeas

Total protein: 7 grams per ½ cup, cooked

Chickpeas are popular for a reason: In addition to protein, they’re full of folate, iron, phosphorus and digestion-regulating fiber. Serve them in a creamy curry, crisped on top of a salad or transformed into a veggie burger.

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6. Pinto Beans

Total protein: 7 grams per ½ cup, cooked

Earthy, nutty pinto beans contain an impressive 20 percent of the recommended daily value of iron per cup, plus 28 percent of the RDV for vitamin B1, which helps your body convert food into energy. Try them in the classic rice and beans or a Mexican pozole.

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7. Lima Beans

Total protein: 5 grams per ½ cup, cooked

In addition to all that protein, one cup of lima beans contains a whopping nine grams of fiber, plus a substantial amount of iron and potassium. They’re a classic choice for succotash, but also shine on their own.

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8. Green Peas

Total protein: 4 grams per ½ cup, cooked

Tiny little peas serve up some serious protein, and they’re also rich in vitamins A, B1, C and K. Plus, they taste great with everything from seafood to cheese and chicken.

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9. Soybean Sprouts

Total protein: 5 grams per ½ cup, raw

If you thought those sprouts on your sandwich were just a garnish, think again. They’re high in protein, B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and folate, as well as vitamins A, C and K. Try them as a topping on soup or a veggie bowl.

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10. Mushrooms

Total protein: 3 grams per ½ cup, cooked

Mushrooms are a low-cal, high-fiber source of not only protein, but also vitamin D, immune-boosting zinc and potassium, which could lower blood pressure. Use them as a tasty meat substitute in pastas or as a topping on pizza.

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11. Spinach

Total protein: 6 grams per 1 cup, cooked

Cup for cup, spinach is extremely low in calories but high in protein and other essential vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, C and K, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. It’s versatile to boot and makes a tasty addition to pastas, smoothies and salads, or served on its own.

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12. Artichokes

Total protein: 5 grams per 1 cup, cooked

Artichokes are full of important nutrients like iron, potassium and vitamins A and C, plus they boast that satisfying combination of protein and fiber. Turn them into a classic creamy dip or try them on pizza or pasta or as an appetizer. (Psst: Here’s how to cook one if you’ve never done it.)

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13. Broccoli

Total protein: 5 grams per 1 cup, cooked

Besides being a good source of protein, broccoli is high in fiber, iron, calcium, selenium and B vitamins. It’s delicious roasted or sautéed with little more than salt and pepper, or even turned into a low-carb pizza crust substitute.

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14. Brussels Sprouts

Total protein: 5 grams per 1 cup, cooked

One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains a ton of vitamins—150 percent of the recommended intake for vitamin C and 250 percent for vitamin K—plus fiber, protein and anti-inflammatory compounds. Whether roasted, sautéed, dusted with Parm or wrapped in bacon, they make a tasty (and healthy) addition to any meal.

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15. Asparagus

Total protein: 4 grams per 1 cup, cooked

This spring favorite might be known for making your pee smell weird, but keep eating: It’s packed with vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, plus folate, iron, copper, calcium and fiber in addition to its high protein content. Want a new way to prepare it? Toss it into a salad with lots of stone fruit.

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16. Sweet Corn

Total protein: 4 grams per 1 cup, cooked

Sweet, tender corn on the cob is full of protein and fiber, as well as essential B vitamins and minerals like zinc, magnesium and iron, so cash in when it’s in season. We like it as the star in a salad or blended into a creamy soup.

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17. Red Potatoes

Total protein: 4 grams per 1 medium potato, cooked

All potatoes are secret protein powerhouses, but red potatoes specifically contain lots of fiber, iron and potassium in their skin. Aside from potato salad, try them alongside steak or baked into homemade “chips.”

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18. Wild Rice

Total protein: 3 grams per 1 cup, cooked

Since wild rice comes from a grass, it technically counts as a vegetable—a protein-rich one at that. It’s also rich in fiber, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Reap its benefits in a creamy soup or refreshing Buddha bowl.

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19. Avocado

Total protein: 3 grams per 1 cup, sliced

Surprisingly, creamy avocado contains a decent amount of protein per serving. If you need more reason to chow down on that avo toast, it also contains a good amount of fiber, vitamin E, folate, potassium and B vitamins. Sneak it into a chocolate dessert for extra nutrients and a dreamy texture, or blend it into a dip or sauce for pasta.

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20. Sweet Potato

Total protein: 2 grams per 1 medium sweet potato, cooked

These root vegetables are an abundant source of beta-carotene and vitamin A in addition to their protein and fiber. They’re also rich in magnesium (which some studies have shown might help with anxiety), and downright delicious when roasted and stuffed into a taco or eaten on their own.

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