While on a strict vegetable diet, you must keep your protein levels up to protect your body composition and prevent serious health repercussions. If your protein intake falls below an acceptable level, you may lose muscle mass, develop joint pain and suffer from constant fatigue.
Continued deficiencies can wreak havoc on your metabolism, making it difficult to maintain your ideal weight. Thankfully, there are many excellent sources of protein to enjoy while on a vegetable diet. Here are five veggies you can add to your daily diet to keep your protein levels in check.
Lima beans are a low-fat, high-protein food you can use as a side dish or eat alone as a snack. Each 100 gram serving of lima beans provides your system with 8 grams of protein plus plenty of iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium. With 19 grams of fiber in every 300-calorie serving, these beans are sure to leave you feeling satisfied by the end of your meal.
One 100-gram serving of delicious green peas gives your system 5 grams of protein, or 10 percent of your suggested daily value. If you resist dousing the peas in butter, this delicious side dish or snack comes in at only 81 calories and a half gram of fat. Ample levels of vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin A and iron are also delivered through this super food.
You can easily sneak sprouts of all kinds into your meals for a beneficial boost of protein. You can enjoy alfalfa, garbanzo, pea and radish sprouts in salads, soups and lettuce wraps to increase the nutritional content of any meal. A single 100-gram serving of sprouts gives your system 4 grams of protein at the cost of about 20 calories and less than a gram of net carbs. Your potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium levels all enjoy a quick boost as well.
Increase the value of your salads by replacing nutrient-deficient iceberg lettuce with kale. You can also roast kale in the oven to make crunchy chip-like snacks you can take with you for a quick nutrient boost on the go. One 100-gram serving of this leafy green costs you only 49 calories and 9 grams of carbs. In exchange, you receive 4.3 grams of protein along with a ton of potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A.
Although quinoa is a vegetable, the most common section of the plant consumed is the seeds, not the leafy greens. You can cook the seeds as you would a grain and use them in place of rice in your favorite dishes. Just 100 grams, or half of a serving, of quinoa gives you 4 grams of protein at the expense of 120 calories. This ingredient provides your body with a wide variety of beneficial nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant phytonutrients.
Although you should strive to include at least one of the above protein-rich veggies into your daily vegetable diet, variety is the key to keeping your nutritional intake well balanced. Try to introduce new vegetables into your diet each day to balance your consumption of macro- and micro-nutrients. You can visit your local farmer’s market each season to find new ingredients to incorporate into your meals.
The organic section at your local supermarkets may also carry a wide variety of vegetables that change with the season. When you focus on variety, your vegetable diet should keep you in great health and spirits for life.
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