But plenty of vegetables are also great sources of protein and can help us reach our goal. Doctors say most people need 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to keep the muscle they have. But, since we lose muscle as we age through life, older people need 1.2 grams per pound.
Why is that? Well, protein keeps us strong so we can maintain our strength for the activities of daily living – like getting up off the toilet, recovering our balance so we don’t fall, and bringing in the groceries, to boil it down to the bare minimum.
We need fruits, of course. But you’ll have to eat a lot more of them to carry the punch of vegetables. For example, blackberries, pink grapefruit, and plantains have about 2g of protein per cup. Look for protein-enriched fruit juices at the grocery store.
Here are some of the top vegetable sources of protein.
- Edamame, 18g per cup
- Lentils, 18g per cup
- Pinto beans, 15g per cup
- Chickpeas, 15g per cup
- Lima beans, 12g per cup (cooked)
- Green peas, 9g per cup
- Quinoa, 8g per cup (cooked)
- Wild rice, 7g per cup (cooked)
- Brussels sprouts, 6g per cup
- Spinach, 5g per cup
- Potatoes 5g per medium baked potato with skin
- Asparagus, 4g per cup
- Broccoli, 4g per stalk
Make sure you’re getting enough, and ask us or your doctor if you have any questions.
Sources: Healthline, My Food Data
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.