5 Vegetables That Are Surprisingly High in Protein

One of the most common misconceptions about vegetarian diets is that it is impossible to get enough protein without meat or dairy. For recent converts to this type of lifestyle, they often backslide because of this very issue. If one does not know where to properly get protein without animal products, it can make maintaining a vegetarian diet difficult. However, there are many sources of protein available that do not involve meat, and some may even surprise you.

Even for those with no desire to give up meat may need to find additional sources of protein. According to the Doan Law Firm, alternative sources of protein can be useful for anything from losing weight to recovering from serious injury. Whatever your reasons, getting your protein from non-traditional sources has many benefits and could even lead to an entirely new– and perhaps healthier– diet.

Although vegetables are not traditionally thought of as being high in protein, there are some that can be just as beneficial as meats, dairy or nuts. The following vegetables provide a high level of protein, and some of them may surprise you.

  1. Brussels Sprouts

Because they are most commonly known for their high fiber content, most people are surprised to learn that Brussels sprouts contain one of the highest levels of protein of any vegetable. In fact, just one cup of brussel sprouts contains three grams of protein.

The reason for their high protein content is because of their unusual lifespan. Sprouts are actually living all the way up until you pick them, and they retain much of their nutritional value when cooked, unlike many other vegetables. While they can still be eaten raw, they can also be boiled, steamed or more creatively cooked.

Brussels sprouts have gotten a bad rap for years as being something children must be force-fed, but there is a reason why parents would want them eaten. In addition to being high in fiber and protein, Brussels sprouts could also be helpful in improving bone health and even fighting cancer.

2. Peas

These little green treats may be small, but they should not be overlooked as a great source for protein. Green peas contain a whopping nine grams of protein per cup in addition to many other nutrients. They are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, thiamin, phosphorus along with multiple B vitamins.

In addition to the personal health benefits, peas are also a significantly friendly vegetable to the environment. Peas are in a category of crops known as nitrogen-fixing crops, meaning they mix with bacteria in the soil to help convert nitrogen from the air into more complex and usable forms. So you can feel good about eating your peas for multiple reasons.

3. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a flexible food that can be added to just about anything to make it healthier and tastier. They can also be eaten on their own as a snack or side dish. In addition to being high in protein, mushrooms also possess immune-boosting properties that can help keep you healthy.

Obviously, different varieties of mushrooms will have slightly different nutritional characteristics, but they are all great for you (not including those that the teenager outside the coffee shop sells in baggies). One cup of white mushroom pieces contains 2.2 grams of protein.

4. Kale

Through its short time in mainstream American consciousness, this superfood has transformed the way many people think of healthy eating. It is a great source of multiple nutrients, including protein. One cup of chopped kale contains 2.9 grams of protein. Although this is not as much as some of the other veggies on this list, its numerous health benefits make it deserving of an honorable mention.

5. Broccoli

This is another vegetable that seems to cover all the bases healthwise. It contains several essential vitamins and minerals, as well as multiple preventative characteristics. Along with 4.2 grams of protein per cup, broccoli is full of calcium, iron and antioxidants.


The one drawback to broccoli as a source of protein is that it is not a complete protein. This means it should be combined with another source like peas or quinoa for a full amino acid profile.