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These 23 Vegetables Are Surprising Sources of Protein

While they don’t contain as much as animal sources, adding them to your diet can only help your performance.

By Paul Kita
homemade sauteed green broccoli rabe with garlic and nuts

If there’s one thing that doctors and dietitians across the planet agree upon, it’s that eating more vegetables is good for you. Vegetables contain satiating fiber, disease-fighting antioxidants, and a host of important and essential vitamins and minerals that help you feel generally awesome and boost your performance.

And some vegetables contain protein, the macronutrient that can help you build and maintain muscle.

But let’s set a few things straight before heading into the list of vegetables with protein.

First, vegetables do not contain as much protein as animal sources. For comparison’s sake, 1 cup of chopped or diced chicken breast has 43 grams of protein. (Just keep this in mind as you move through the list.) While the vegetables that follow are high in protein relative to other vegetables, they aren’t high in protein relative to other animal-based sources.

Now, processed plant products like tofu, plant-based “meats,” and seiten can all carry more protein, but this list isn’t about those products. It’s about the protein you can find in straight-out-of-the ground vegetables.

And, second, for the purposes of creating a diverse group of plant-based options for you to choose from on this list, legumes are considered a vegetable. That’s also largely because legumes tend to have more protein than, say, leafy greens.

With all that out of the way, here’s a list of 23 vegetables (and legumes) that are surprising sources of protein.

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personal perspective of a diner eating a japanese meal

They’re soy beans in a pod. They’re snack-able, especially clobbered with flaky sea salt and dipped into soy sauce. And they have about 11 grams of protein per cup.

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Pinto Beans

chicken meat with pinto beans and black rice

Another legume, yes. Pinto beans have 7 grams of protein per 1/2 cup. Use them as you would any other been—mixed with rice, stirred into chili, laced into tacos.


Navy Beans

phaseolus vulgaris is scientific name of sugar bean legume also known as feijao rajado or frijol canavalalso known as haricot, pearl bean and feijao branco person with grains in hand macro whole food

One half cup of these broad, white beans has 8 grams of protein per cup. Like all beans, they’re a strong source of fiber, too.

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fresh sugar peas being open
John Sommer

Yeah, peas! If you eat roughly 3/4 cup of these little green guys, you’ll consume 5 grams of protein.


Baked Potatoes

baked potato with melting butter, horizontal
john shepherd

Mmmmmm, baked potatoes. One large potato has 7 grams of protein. Filling, too.



spinach natch

For every cup of fresh spinach you eat, you’ll consume about 1 gram of protein. Not a ton, yes, but if you eat a salad with four cups of spinach, that’s at least something.

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Broccoli Raab

homemade sauteed green broccoli rabe with garlic and nuts

One bunch of this bitter green contains a mighty 17 grams of protein—but, admittedly, that’s a lot of broccoli raab. That said, a half bunch is pretty reasonable serving and a still delivers a decent about of the nutrient.


Brussels Sprouts

a dish full of uncooked, unpeeled brussels sprouts natural, soft lighting
Photography by Alex Brunsdon

One cup of the cruciferous vegetables, boiled, contains 4 grams of protein—plus the same amount of fiber.


Button Mushrooms

stack of white button mushrooms, on wooden surface
george tsartsianidis

Also known as white mushrooms, a cup of these contain 3 grams of protein. (Disclaimer: Technically, mushrooms are a fungi and not a vegetable.)

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Turnip Greens

healthy bunches of fresh turnips on the table in the monthly farmers market in ponte de lima, portugal
Enrique Díaz / 7cero

If you tire of spinach, try these fibrous greens, which have the hearty texture of kale, but a mellower flavor. One cup of cooked turnip greens has has about 5 grams of protein.


Sweet Corn

white sweet corn

One medium cob carries about 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Tastes like summer, too.


Oyster Mushrooms

oyster mushrooms
Diana Miller

Like white button shrooms, these fungi contain 3 grams of protein for every 1 cup, sliced. Unlike white button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms have a meaty texture and mild flavor.

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snow peas

One cup of raw snowpeas has 2 grams of protein, which isn’t much. But it’s something!



Tali Aiona / EyeEm

Everyone’s favorite superfood delivers on the protein, too. Or, at least a bit of the nutrient. One cup of cooked kale has about 3 grams.



Jonathan Kantor

Just one cooked medium artichoke contains 3 grams of protein and a fiber payload of 7 grams.

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broccoli on green background with water splash
Chris Stein

One cup of chopped broccoli contains about 4 grams of protein. If you top it with cheese, that would add some more protein and bone-building calcium.




Like it’s cruciferous cousin, broccoli, cauliflower offer contains a little protein. Specifically, 1 cup carries about 2 grams of the nutrient.


Dandelion Greens

dandelion greens

These bitter greens have a little protein to them. One cup of cooked dandelion greens has 2 grams of fiber. They also make a nice pesto.

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One cup has about half a gram of protein. So 4 cups would have 2 grams. Not terrible for salad green!


Beet Greens

close up of beets growing in a garden

A cup of these cooked greens has about 4 grams of protein, plus a healthy dose of disease-fighting antioxidants.

From: Men's Health US
Headshot of Paul Kita
Paul Kita

Paul is the Food & Nutrition Editor of Men’s Health. He’s also the author of two cookbooks: Guy Gourmet and A Man, A Pan, A Plan.

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