Eight Plant-Based Sources of Protein

by Sara Suchy Editor

A meaty steak and a side of eggs are two extremely good sources of protein, but what about the vegetarians of the world or people who like their arteries free of unnecessary cholesterol. Here are some wonderful plant-based sources of protein.


Seitan is a whole wheat gluten that provides 31 gram of protein per three-ounce serving. It is popular in Chinese and Russian cuisine and found in some Asian or specialty food markets. It can be prepared in many ways and, like tofu, takes on the flavor of its accompanying ingredients.


Lentils provide eight grams of protein per one-cup serving. Ideally, lentils are combined with complementary proteins such as nuts, seeds, rice and grains to become a complete protein that contains all nine amino acids. They are also an excellent source of potassium, fiber, folic acid and B vitamins.


Tofu has 17 grams of protein in a one-cup serving and is considered a complete protein. However, it is not as high-quality as animal sources because it has a lower proportion of amino acids. Soy proteins like tofu should not be used to completely replace meat in a diet but is a great way to scale back fatty sources of protein by supplementing leaner sources.

Black beans

Black beans have 15 grams of protein in a cooked one-serving cup. They also contain 15 grams of fiber (well over half the daily recommended value) and consuming black beans regularly benefits the digestive tract, blood sugar levels and cardiovascular health. Plenty of reasons to add a few black beans to a salad now and then.


This little gem of a super food offers eight grams of protein per one cup serving (cooked) and is a complete protein. It is abundant in the amino acid lysine, which is important for tissue growth and repair and is also a good source of magnesium, folate and phosphorus. Quinoa can be used in the place of rice and has a fluffy texture and nutty flavor.


A one-ounce serving of pistachios offer six grams of protein, over 30 different nutrients, 10 different antioxidants and only 170 calories. Eat up!

Vanilla soy yogurt

Vanilla soy yogurt has five grams of protein per six-ounce serving. Soy yogurt is made by adding bacteria to soy milk so it contains no dairy. While it is lower in protein than dairy yogurts, it is safe for people who are lactose intolerant. It is also a significant source of calcium and high in iron and vitamin C.

Brussels sprouts

These little green orbs contain 4 grams of protein in a cooked one-cup serving. In addition to their protein benefits, the nutrients in Brussels Sprouts may reduce the risk of colon cancer and other cancers, protect against birth defects, and are a fantastic source of folic acid, vitamins C and K and antioxidants. Prepared well, they are also delicious.

Sara Suchy
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Sara Suchy

Sara is a former editor for HealthCentral.