Protein is important. Not only does it help every cell in the body grow and repair itself, but evidence has also shown that protein is filling and encourages the body to improve muscle strength.
You don’t need to eat meat or fish to get enough protein either. There are several plant-based sources of this nutrient that supply the protein the body needs.
Read on for seven protein-rich grains and vegetables.
Chia seeds (100g contains 17g of protein)
Native to Mexico and Central America, chia seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals and protein. Just 100g of chia seeds contains 17g of protein and these mild-tasting all-rounders are commonly used in smoothies and sprinkled on salads, yoghurt or oats.
The tiny black seeds absorb water and produce a gelatinous substance that makes a wonderful egg substitute for use in baking and desserts.
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Edamame beans (110g contains 11g of protein)
These bright, fresh-tasting beans are young soybeans picked before they are fully developed.
A staple in Japanese and Chinese diets, they are often served boiled or steamed. Rich in vitamin K and fibre, 100g of edamame beans contains 11g of protein. They are a complete source of protein which means they provide the body with all of its essential amino acids.
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Lentils (100g contains 9g of protein)
Full of protein and iron, 100g of cooked lentils contains 9g of protein, along with 8g of fibre.
An affordable source of protein, they are also very versatile. Use them to add texture to vegetable soups and stews, and combine them with spices to make curries or eat them cold in salads.
Unlike many other beans and pulses, which usually need soaking before they are safe to eat, lentils can be cooked and ready to eat in just a few minutes.
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Chickpeas (110g contains 9g of protein)
Chickpeas are prized for their nutritional profile and are wonderful sources of fibre, iron, complex carbohydrates and potassium.
What’s more, eating 100g of boiled chickpeas will provide you with up to 9g of protein. As well as hummus, these legumes are used in a wide variety of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean recipes. Delicious eaten hot or cold, chickpeas are a tasty addition to stews and curries or dry roasted in the oven to make a crunchy, protein-filled snack.
Oats (110g contains 17g of protein)
If that morning bowl of porridge doesn’t just fill you up all the way to lunchtime, 100g of oats contains 17g of protein and is a great alternative. This gluten-free whole grain has been eaten for centuries, providing slow-release carbohydrates and fibre.
So don’t just save them for breakfast. Bake oats into flapjacks, use them to make homemade bean burgers or sprinkle them over sautéed vegetables and bake in the oven for a hearty veggie crumble.
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Spirulina (110g contains 57g of protein)
Spirulina is a green-coloured algae that dates back billions of years. High in iron, it also contains more calcium than milk. Plus, 100g of this natural algae provides a whopping 57g of protein. For a protein boost, blend a few tablespoons of spirulina powder with bananas and fruit juice for a nourishing smoothie. Or, liven up roast potatoes with a sprinkle of your own seasoning made with spirulina and a blend of your favourite herbs and spices.
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Quinoa (100g contains 13g of protein)
You can count on quinoa to provide 13g of protein in every 100g. With a nut-like flavour and firm texture, it has steadily gained popularity in recent years.
A complete protein, it contains all of the essential amino acids our bodies need from our diets. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes and use in place of rice or couscous.
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