Vegetables … The Other Source of Protein

posted Jan 15, 2014, 4:40 PM by Merrin McGregor   [ updated Jan 17, 2014, 11:34 AM ]
It’s a new year, and you, like many, may have resolved to eat better this year, perhaps shed a few pounds … maybe even to eat a few more fruits and vegetables?? 

As a veggie fanatic (but not vegetarian) myself, I am thrilled at the prospect! But now that the new year is well underway, a common complaint among those who are cutting back or filling up on celery sticks is that they feel hungry all the time.

The solution? Make sure you are getting enough protein. Meals rich in protein help you to get and keep that “full” feeling. Feeling full is certain to increase your chances of success with sticking to your healthy resolutions.

So how much is enough?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that 10 – 35% of your daily calories come from protein. This handy chart will help you identify how much you and your family members should be getting each day:

Recommended Daily
Protein Intake (grams)

Children (1 – 3 yrs)


Children (4  8 yrs)


Children (9 – 13  yrs)


Girls (14  18 yrs)


Boys (14 – 18 yrs)


Women (19 – 70+ yrs)


Men (19 70+ yrs)

                                                                                                                            source: CDC

Unexpected Sources

You may already know that lean meats, dairy, nuts, seeds and certain grains are among the many healthy sources of protein. But, believe it or not, there are some great veggie sources to consider as well. So in this season of healthy resolutions, why not add a cup of one of these to your plate?

Check Your Pulses

  • soybeans – 28 g
  • lentils – 18 g
  • chickpeas / garbanzo beans – 15 g [think hummus!]
  • black or kidney beans – 15 g
  • refried beans – 13 g [Mexican night?]
  • edamame – 12 g

Think Green

  • green peas – 8 g
  • spinach – 5 g [Popeye was right!]
  • avocado – 5 g
  • artichoke – 5 g
  • broccoli – 3 g [it has everything, doesn’t it?!]
  • snow peas or snap peas – 3 g

Go Orange

  • sweet potato – 5 g
  • squash – 4 g
  • pumpkin – 3 g

Don’t Forget Fruit

It’s true! There are even some fruits that are high in protein. Dried fruits tend to be among the best sources, but most fruit contains at least a small amount of protein. Include fruit (particularly dried) in your diet regularly, and it will add up to helping you fill up!
  • raisins or zante currants – 6 g
  • dried figs – 5 g
  • passion fruit – 5 g
  • dates – 4 g
  • guava – 4 g
  • dried apricots – 4 g
  • pomegranate – 3 g
No doubt you found a few surprises in these lists. Whether you are omnivorous, vegetarian, vegan, or otherwise, these suggestions are just a starter course to get you thinking about the possibilities for adding healthy protein to your diet through fruits and veggies. So load up on produce: you’ll find that protein is just one of the many healthy reasons we’re encouraged to fill half our plates with fruits and veggies at every meal.

Whether for weight loss, because your doctor recommended it, or just for general good health, including a range of fruits and veggies is a positive and protein-rich resolution to consider adopting in this new year. 

Wishing you a happy and healthy, produce-filled 2014! 

Calculations based on grams per cup. Sources: USDA National Nutrient Database and Self Nutrition Data.