We’ve ranked the best meatless high protein foods in terms of their protein content. You don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan to reap the benefits often attributed to those lifestyles, including reduced risk of heart attack and cancer. Simply cutting back on the amount of meat you eat each day can help.
With the following meatless options you’ll still be getting plenty of protein in your diet, so you won’t have to worry about suffering from symptoms associated with low protein levels, including muscle pains, low energy, and trouble sleeping.
Here are the top 20 good sources of protein that aren’t meat, ranked in order from highest to lowest in protein per 100 grams.
1. Seitan – 75g per 100g
Blowing away the competition is seitan, also known as wheat gluten, which is made up of 75% protein. That’s pretty impressive, and 100g of it provides more than your daily requirement of protein.
Added features include it being low in sodium and carbohydrates, high in iron, and a good source of calcium. It’s also very low in fat, which makes it a great addition to many diet programs as a way to get protein with no cholesterol and not much fat added.
As the name wheat gluten suggests, you wouldn’t want to eat this on a gluten-free diet because it’s made of the exact stuff that you’re trying to avoid when eating gluten free.
Ideas for eating more seitan: Seitan makes a great replacement for chicken or turkey, so use it in any dish that calls for these for a fantastic tasting alternative with plenty of protein.
2. Lentils – 26g per 100g
If you’re not eating lentils on a regular basis, you may want to start. They have an surprising amount of protein in them, taking the number two spot on our list.
Lentils pack a ton of fiber, so in the same 100 gram serving that nets you 26 grams of protein you’re getting your entire day’s worth of fiber met. You probably wouldn’t eat that serving size in one sitting, but adding it to your diet in any amount is going to be a big plus.
Lentils are also rich in important minerals like iron and magnesium, as well as potassium. They are also low in fat and sodium, and are cholesterol free.
Ideas for eating more lentils: Lentils are very versatile, and can be eaten as a side dish all by themselves, added to mixed vegetables, or mashed up and made into patties. They work great at thickening up a soup as well, and try adding them to a chili for added nutrition.
Note: This is where chicken breast would rank at 25g per 100g.
3. Peanut Butter – 25g per 100g
Here’s a yummy alternative to meat that contains plenty of protein. Peanut butter is one quarter protein, and can contribute to your overall protein needs, and tastes great which means you’ll have no trouble eating it regularly.
Peanut butter is also high in potassium and a good source of fiber, and also contains magnesium and potassium to help the body function at its best. It also contains Vitamin B-6, which will help benefit the liver as well as several other metabolic processes.
If you’re looking to lose weight you’ll want to make sure not to overdo it with peanut butter, as it is high in fat. Just the right amount can spur on your weight loss efforts, too much will be counterproductive.
Ideas for eating more peanut butter: Add peanut butter to a smoothie for an improved taste and to thicken it up. Use it to dip apples and celery for a healthy snack.
4. Hemp Seed – 23g per 100g
Hemp seeds take the number four spot on our countdown, and they provide plenty of protein, gram for gram. The protein they contain is easily digested by the body, and they have an anti-inflammatory effect, making them a great choice for anyone suffering from a condition caused by inflammation.
You may have to go to a health food store or order online in order to find hemp seeds locally. The good news is that they’re not prohibitively expensive, even for a high quality, organic brand.
Hemp seeds won’t provide any psychoactive effect, even though they come from the same marijuana plant as the recreational drug. You can buy them and use them without concern of any laws or penalties.
Ideas for eating more hemp seed: You can add hemp seeds to just about anything, including soups, salads, smoothies, and more thanks to their small size and nutty flavor.
5. Black Beans – 21g per 100g
Black beans have been gaining in popularity over the years as a healthy side dish, but vegetarians and vegans have known just what a great source of protein they are for quite some time.
Black beans are often recommended to those with diabetes as they help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. They are digested gradually by the body, and can help you feel fuller longer. They also help the digestive tract because of their ratio of protein and fiber.
You can use black beans as part of a weight loss program or weight management efforts because of their low fat content and healthy mix of fiber and protein.
Ideas for eating more beans: Black beans are so versatile that they can easily be incorporated into meatless main dishes, used as a side dish, added to a stir fry, used in any number of Mexican meals, or made into a bean dip.
6. Almonds – 21g per 100g
Almonds contain a decent amount of protein for a nut, and their portable nature makes them a great bring-anywhere snack.
There is also a lot of fiber in almonds, and they could just as easily make a high fiber foods list with the amount of fiber they contain. Other notable highlights include calcium, iron, and potassium, even magnesium to help you sleep. They have a high fat content, it is mostly healthy fat but you’ll still want to take it easy on them and not over consume them for their protein.
Opt for organic almonds to avoid pesticides and other chemicals that are present in conventional almonds. Also, stick with raw almonds over dry roasted, as these won’t contain added oil and sodium.
Ideas for eating more almonds: Almonds make the perfect anytime anywhere snack, but you can also chop them up and sliver them to mix in with vegetables, or to use in baked goods.
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