Plant- Based Protein Chart

 

The following is a chart that I adapted from the USDA Nutrient Database that displays the protein content of vegetarian foods. Because I do not personally include dairy or soy into my diet, you will not see these items listen. Please note that in order to determine the amount of protein that is optimal for your body, use the following formula that is based on a vegetarian recommendation:

Convert weight to kg (pounds/ 2.2)

Multiply kg by .9= Protein recommendation in grams

 

Nut/Seed (1/4 Cup; 4 tbs)

Protein (g)

Chia Seed 12
Hemp Seed 10
Flax Seed 8
Sunflower Seed 8
Salba 7.4
Almond 7
Pumpkin Seed 7
Sesame Seed 7
Pistachio 6
Walnut 5
Brazil Nut 5
Hazelnut 5
Pine Nut 4
Cashew 4

Beans (1 Cup cooked)

Protein (g)

Lentil 18
Adzuki 17
Cannellini (white beans) 17
Cranberry bean 17
Navy Bean 16
Split Peas 16
Anasazi 15
Black Bean 15
Garbanzos (chick peas) 15
Kidney Bean 15
Great Northern Beans 15
Lima Beans 15
Pink Beans 15
Black-eyed Peas 14
Mung Beans 14
Pinto Beans 14
Green Peas 9

Grains (1 Cup cooked)

Protein (g)

Triticale 25
Millet 8.4
Amaranth 7
Oat, bran 7
Wild Rice 7
Rye Berries 7
Whole Wheat Couscous 6
Bulgar Wheat 6
Buckwheat 6
Teff 6
Oat Groats 6
Barley 5
Quinoa 5
Brown Rice 5
Spelt 5

Vegetables (cooked)

Protein (g)

Corn (1 large cob) 5
Potato (with skin) 5
Mushroom, Oyster (1 cup) 5
Collard Greens (1 cup) 4
Peas (1/2 cup) 4
Artichoke (medium) 4
Broccoli (1 cup) 4
Brussel Sprouts (1 cup) 4
Mushroom,Shitake (1 cup) 3.5
Fennel (1 medium bulb) 3
Swiss Chard (1 cup) 3
Kale (1 cup) 2.5
Asparagus (5 spears) 2
String Beans (1 cup) 2
Beets (1 cup) 2
Sweet Potato (1 cup) 3
Cabbage (1 cup) 2
Carrot (1 cup) 2
Cauliflower (1 cup) 2
Rutabaga 2
Squash 2
Celery (1 cup) 1
Spinach (1 cup) 1
Bell Peppers (1 cup) 1
Cucumber (1 cup) 1
Eggplant (1 cup) 1
Leeks (1 cup) 1
Lettuce (1 cup) 1
Okra (1/2 cup) 1
Onion (1/2 cup) 1

Other Sources

Protein (g)

Egg 6
Sunwarrior Rice Protein (scoop) 17
Avocado (1 medium) 4
Cherimoya 7
Durian (1 cup) 4
Sapote (1 medium) 5



57 Comments

  1. Jolanta

    Very helpful! :)

  2. Hi,
    Thank you for such a clean site that offers many different perspectives. I find that most people are able to write but only from one angle. So I appreciate your full scope. I have one of these less than nutritionist certs, as in I work under someone else’s license and work as a personal trainer. I am mostly vegan and then sometimes I have yogurt, and/or fish. NEVER EAT SOY, minus the occasional edamame. But that is more about dedication than a craving for animal products. So I think anyway. In fact, the other day I had sushi and I slept for two hours after the meal. Could have something to do with stomach acid, or that I go so long without animal protein.. I don’t know.

    My question today is simply.. about the metabolism of the proteins from plants and vegetables.. such asparagus, sweet potato, and letil, which is a favorite dish of mine. While these are not soy products is the protein profile the same?

    I have been arguing that it is not and that the body utilizes it much differently, but as I try to research if I am correct.. I am turning up sites that lump soy-based protein with having the same effect on the body as plant/vegetable protein. Is this because their commonality is what they lack (the amino acids found in animal protein) and so these writers just put them together to simplify their articles. If I have confused you.. I apologize.
    To put it simply..
    When metabolized what is the difference between plant/vegetable protein on the body as compared to soy-based protein? Thank you.

    • lauren

      Soy contains all the necessary essential amino acids while other vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and beans do not, other than hemp seeds. The main idea when not eating meat is that you want to make sure that you eat a wide range of plant-based foods so that you over the course of the day obtain all the necessary essential amino acids. While soy does contain all the essential amino acids, it is not the best way to get protein due to it being GMO, a high estrogenic food, and often extremely processed. Therefore, as long as you eat a blend of whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and vegetables, you should be able to get all the protein your body needs. If you are concerned, you can look to eating vegan protein powders (brown rice and hemp) and eating superfoods such as hemp and chia for an extra boost.

      • Thanks for your thoughts on soy and GMO-based.

      • Clarissa Lewis

        Pleas research Morringa, Has all essential amino acids just like soy and is much better for you!! This tree is overlooked and one of THE pest sources of nutrients out there. Thanks.

  3. LILIANA LEGUINECHI

    ME ENCANTA TODO LO REFERENTE A ESATA PAGINA

  4. Thanks for this very useful chart! Great blog!

  5. Christine

    Hello. Would you eat soy if it was not GMO and not highly processed? Thanks, Christine

  6. Gaile

    Thanks for creating this list for us. My question has to do with the balance of carbs to proteins. I find a ratio of 7 grams clean protein to 9 grams low glycemic carbs to 4-6 grams good fats works best for me. Do you know about that ‘formula’, that can be doubled, trippled, etc? How then, can beans for instance, be counted on for protein in that formula when they have a higher carb content? Thanks.

    • lauren

      Hi Galle, I actually do not eat in ratios, since my needs change due to the time in my life and my type of exercise. In this case I would consider the bean the protein though and the count the carb secondly. Furthermore, to make beans a complete protein, you need to eat them with a complex carb like brown rice. Therefore, in this case the rice would be the carb and the bean the protein.

  7. ami

    so- is that formula at the top telling me i need 77g of protein???? probly not gonna happen..

  8. Joan

    Hi Lauren
    I am a school teacher who just found out that I have MS. I want to eat healthy and the first two steps I began was giving up all meat and refined sugar. I have been integrating vegetables and more fruits but I fear the I am not getting enough proteins. Q:Do you offer recipes that offer this type of diet? Thanks, Joan

    • lauren

      Hi Joan, there are recipes in the my recipe section, but I also have listed many other websites that also share great recipes as well. A great way to ensure adequate protein is to make a smoothie daily with a vegan protein. If you also include hemp seeds, you can add in quite a bit of protein for the day in just that one smoothie. You actually do get quite a bit of protein throughout the day if you are eating a wide range of plant-based foods, and you can also always add in organic, farmers market eggs as well if needed.

  9. Donna

    Hi Lauren,
    I was wondering if using a hemp protein powder in my morning smoothie could have a positive(in a bad way) effect on a drug test. My husband says that it could.
    Thanks,
    Donna

    • lauren

      HI Donna, hemp powder as well as hemp food products like the seeds do not contain THC levels that would interfere with a drug test. They actually are held to standards to ensure this safety. Check out this site: http://www.testpledge.com/foods.htm

  10. Hi,
    Love this article thanks for the info!
    Just a thought for Donna – in case you’re here in Australia that might not be accurate! Over here there is (ridiculously) a zero tolerance on THC from hemp products (in sport anyway).

  11. I think that quinoa is much higher in protein than your chart states. Several sources list 8g protein for 1 cup of cooked quinoa. This makes a big difference!

    Here’s one source:
    http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10352/2

    • lauren

      Thanks HIlary, not sure how the quinoa varies by brand, but if you have one that has 8g all the better!

  12. Thanks for this chart. I’m charting my protein intake right now. This is super helpful!

  13. Felipe Ramirez

    I am curious about using this as a way to gain muscle mass .. I dont want to take those ” flavored powder protein shakes”. Which veggies and fruits would be the most ideal for this ? Any suggestions? Thnx :)

    • lauren

      Hi Felipe, you can actually find protein powders that are just that protein, with no additives, no flavors etc. I personally use Sunwarrior brand. Fruits/Veges do not contain enough protein on their own for muscle building, but you can also look at nuts/seeds as well as beans for protein.

  14. Trish

    Awesome!! can you also add a “RAW” column to your list? I would love to see the difference between “COOKED” and “RAW” beside each item. Especially since a lot of vegans and vegetarians eat raw and smoothies. Thank you so much for adding calculation!

  15. Ali

    I have a question for you. Of all plant foods, which group is the richest in protein?

  16. Sam

    Hi Lauren, thanks for the list it’s very helpful.
    I am currently eating a moderate protein , high vegetables , no grains /dairy / soy / sugars diet however my protein is all animal based. A friend told me about a documentary on netflix called forks over knives and It was an eye opener to say the least. So I am very heavily trying to switch over to a plant based diet. I also use shakeology protein supplement in the morning as they have a chocolate vegan formula that is delicious. I am try to keep my weight down and if not lose 5 lbs so that is why I am doing a paleo type diet as I can not exercise due to a back injury. Will my weight be an issue with a plant based diet due to the high glycemic index and carbs? I totally see and believe in the health benefits of vegan so I will transition over but just want to be prepared. Thanks a bunch

    • lauren

      Hi Sam! This is a hard question because if you do have issues with carbohydrates and sugars (even from root vegetables and fruit) than vegan is really difficult. I would first switch to all organic meat, poultry and eggs and start incorporating plant-based sources as well such as a brown rice protein (sunwarrior), and soaked/sprouted legumes/beans. I would then start with one day a week going vegan and see how you feel. Make sure not to rely on any refined carbs or soy products. Stick to lots of green vegetables, healthy fats, soaked/sprouted grains (gluten-free), and fermented products. Good Luck!

  17. Funny

    Very helpful, thanks.

  18. david de fortier

    why is casava leaf and papaya leaf not on this list? they contain up to 35% protein. far greater than anything on this list

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      Hi David – here in the states the casava lead and papaya leaf are not typical foods that are available to the consumer. Thanks for bringing it up. For those who have it available, I am sure it will be helpful.

  19. Machelle Williams

    This is very helpful to me especially since I do not like eating much meat and plan on stopping all together.

  20. Jared

    Great list Lauren! I’m always surprised by how much protein is in beans! I put together a list of vegetables high in quality protein, but it’s good to remember that it’s not that difficult to get all the essential amino acids by eating a variety of food (as your list proves). Thanks!

  21. Melody Morris

    Great website, thank you very much!

  22. LHay

    I love the chart but am curious why eggs were included. Eggs are meat and definitely not plant based.

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      Eggs are included because they are considered the “perfect” protein and they are what all other foods are compared to when looking at protein content. So they are there as a reference.

  23. Love the list. Very helpful. Shared it with a friend

  24. Phyllis Griffiths

    What would be more helpful would be a chart that contained information as to how much of the essential amino acids (proteins) that these foods contained. Just as all fats are not created equal for human health, neither are all proteins. After all gluten is a protein and look how much damage that can cause to people who have problems with it.

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      All proteins are not created equal you are absolutely right. With that being said, the concern with plant-based proteins are not so much about which amino acids they have but rather how much of those amino acids are absorbed. And that depends on the person to some degree. That is why I always recommend a plant-based protein powder as a supplement to the food. Check on my latest post about the Best Whey and Vegan Protein Powders.

  25. Jacob

    My wife is pregnant, we are vegan, and I am the cook. This chart is wonderful in helping me meal plan to ensure that Malissa gets enough protein each day from a variety of plant-based sources. Thank you!

  26. Drew Fisher

    Hi, Lauren. NIce website. I have a question regarding a raw foods vegan diet. Your list is organized with categories of “cooked” vegetables. Are the proteins as readily accessible to the digestive system without cooking or through juicing (as Norman Jensen claimed)?

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      Hi Drew – This is a complicated question. On one hand, raw foods such as vegetables and sprouted grains and legumes contain enzymes intact which help the body to digest the food, but on the other hand, these foods also contain anti nutrients and cellulose that decrease the ability of the body to grab the protein. You don’t digest 100% of any food you eat, and cellulose (abundant in ‘high protein’ greens) causes a notable amount of protein to pass through your system undigested.

  27. Kathleen Akins

    This is very helpful. My problem is that I cannot digest any of the proteins commonly found in meat, poultry and dairy products, and hence do not eat them. Unfortunately, many vegetable proteins overlap with the proteins in meats, etc. and this makes selecting the right food quite difficult. (Actually, indigestion is the least of it; I have a immune response to them). So I am wondering: Have you ever seen a chart that plots out the kinds of proteins commonly found in grains, legumes, and vegetables?

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      Hi Kathleen, not a chart per se, but if I were you I would rely heavily on vegan protein powders. There are so many sources now including pea, brown rice, hemp, chia, sacha inchi, and coconut. That way you will know exactly how much protein you are taking in each day and which amino acids they are (this information is present on the powder nutrition facts). You can then see which ones are missing and then search which foods contain those. This would be the easiest way.

  28. clinton norton

    I just found your site and find it very helpful. I am wondering about the best source of nutrients from food should I cook or raw in a smoothie ground up…Should I boil or steam my vegies and just short cooking time???
    thanks for your site and I think this source of infprmation is a great way to learn and supply a health plan for lifestyle living.
    Clinton

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      Hi Clinton – there is actually not a straight forward answer since some vegetables yield more nutrients steamed than raw. But overall, all vegetables are best either raw or lightly steamed/cooked, and less beneficial highly heated (fried, baked). Finally, if you microwave your vegetables, that damages almost all of the nutrients, so never microwave.

  29. Heidi

    Loved this list !!! Very helpful , but what about a list of all the leafy greens ? Romaine,spinach,kale ECT?

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      Green veggies do have a small amount, but unfortunately they are not a significant source, one that can be relied upon. The protein from leafy greens is hard for the body to utilize, so its best to look to other sources as a main contributor to your overall daily total. But definitely keep eating them bc they are excellent for most everything else!

  30. Liadan

    Thank you for this chart. Very helpful. One thing I’m concerned about…I know plants have a lot of protein, but how do we make sure we get a *complete* protein? ALL the Amino Acids?

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      You have to mix up your sources of protein, but yes, it can be a bit difficult to really know. That is why I use a protein powder that has the complete spectrum. I use it daily, so that way I know I get all of the amino acids at least once a day.

  31. Howard Del Aguila

    I would like to receive your newsletters

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      Your all signed up – just confirm in your email inbox.

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