Top 20 Best Sources for Plant Based Protein

It is not widely known that your body only needs about 1 g of protein for each kg of body weight daily? This is equivalent to 1/5 oz per pound of body weight. So for an average male in the USA of 91 kg (200 lb) this amounts to about 100 g and for the average female of 77 kg (171 lb) this equates to around 80 g. The bare minimum recommended protein consumption is 56 g per day for the average sedentary male and 46 g per day for the average sedentary woman. This is actually not that much, and can be easily achieved by consuming 100% plant-based protein. One extremely important aspect of this is to ensure you are getting the full complement of essential amino acids, which is much harder to do from plant-based sources. See .

Almonds. Source: Public Domain

Best Food Sources for Plant Based Proteins

What the main protein sources for Vegans and people wanting to reduce the amount of animal protein in their diets:

Grains - chia, teff, spelt, wheat, quinoa, amaranth and rice

Nuts - hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews and almonds

Pulses - lentils, peas, other beans, cannellini beans, black beans and chickpeas

Seeds - sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed and pumpkin seed

Selected fruits - banana, blackberries, apricots and avocado

Soy bean products - tempeh, tofu, soy milk, edamame and mung beans

Vegetables - asparagus, artichokes, broccoli and spinach

Highest Ranking Plant Foods for Protein in a 100 g Serving

Food Protein (g)
Spirulina (dried) 60.0
Nutritional Yeast (powder) 50.0
Seitan (cooked) 40.0
Hemp Seeds 31.0
Pumpkin Seeds 29.9
Peanuts 26.0
Pistachio 21.0
Almonds 20.3
Tempeh (cooked) 19.9
Sunflower Seeds 19.3
Tofu (fried) 18.8
Flax Seeds 18.3
Chia Seeds 18.3
Cashews 18.0
Sesame Seeds 17.0
Hazelnuts 15.0
Walnuts 15.0
Cashew nut 14.9
Walnut 14.3
Brazil nuts 14.0
Pine nuts 14.0
Rolled Oats 12.5
Edamame (cooked) 11.9
Cannellini Beans (cooked) 9.7
Pecan nut 9.2
Lentils (cooked) 9.0
Pecans 9.0
Macadamia 8.0
Chestnuts 2.0

Best Plant Foods with High Amounts of Protein per Serving

Seitan - is a very popular protein source made from gluten, which is one of the main proteins in wheat. One advantage is that it has a look and texture that closely resembles meat when cooked. Seitan is also a good source of minerals such as calcium, selenium, iron and phosphorus. Seitan can be sautéed, pan-fried, grilled and even barbecued. However, it is not gluten-free.

Tofu, Edamame, Tempeh and other Soybeans Products - Soybeans are a rich source of plant protein and they contain a wonderful array of most essential amino acids. This means that they provide your body all the essential amino acids it needs. Soy beans are a good source of fiber, minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. Soy beans are also a good source of the vitamins, such as folate, vitamin B and vitamin K.

Lentils - are a great source of protein and fiber. One cup of lentils provides about 200 g of fiber, which is more than half of your recommended daily fiber requirement. Lentils are rich in folate, antioxidants and the minerals manganese and iron.

Beans - Most beans such as the popular varieties of kidney, black and pinto contain relatively high amounts of protein per serving. Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are also rich in plant protein. Beans are also a rich and readily usable source of plant fiber, iron, folate, manganese, phosphorus and potassium.

Nutritional Yeast - This product is a deactivated strain of the common bread and beverage yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) yeast. It is generally available as a yellow powder or flakes. It has a good array of amino acids. Fortified, nutritional yeast is also a great source of the minerals zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and manganese. It is also a wonderful source of the full array of B vitamins, including vitamin B12.

Spelt, Teff and other Ancient Grains - These grains and other ancient varieties such as farro, einkorn, barley and sorghum have naturally high levels of protein. They are also excellent sources of fiber and other nutrients, such as complex carbohydrates, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and manganese. These grains also contain most of the B vitamins, folates, and other vitamins and antioxidants.

Hemp Seeds - These seeds are produced by the Cannabis sativa plant, which has only tiny amounts of the compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Hemp seeds are inactive and are highly nutritious. Hemp seeds are also a rich source of the minerals magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, and selenium.

Green Peas - The humble green peas contain almost 9 g of protein for each cup of cooked fresh or frozen peas (160 grams). This is slightly more than a cup of standard dairy milk. Green peas are also a rich source of fiber, folate, thiamine, iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and vitamins A, B, C, and K.

Spirulina - This cultured blue-green alga is a rich source of a plethora of nutrients. Spirulina also contains relatively high amounts of magnesium, iron, copper riboflavin, manganese, potassium, as well as antioxidants and essential fatty acids.

Amaranth, Quinoa and Other Pseudocereals - While often referred to as gluten-free grains, they technically do not grow as grasses, like other cereal grain crops such as wheat and rice. So, technically they are considered pseudocereals rather than grasses. Quinoa and Amaranth yield about 8–9 g of plant protein for each cooked cup. They are also very beneficial as they produce a complete set of all the essential amino acids. They are also good sources of plant fiber, complex carbohydrates and minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium

Sprouted Grain Bread such as Ezekiel Bread - Ezekiel bread and similar varieties are made from whole grains and legumes that are sprouted before use. This boosts their nutrient levels considerably. Sprouted ingredients can include wheat, spelt, millet, barley, and other seeds such as lentils, pulses and soybeans. Sprouting also boosts the content of soluble fiber, folate, vitamins C and E, and beta carotene. It also boosts the range of amino acids in the bread. Many people find these breads are easier to digest.

Soy Milk - This can be a a great alternative to dairy milk. It is a rich source of nutrients, quite similar to those in cow's milk. Soy milk contains 6 g of protein per cup. It is also a great source of minerals such as calcium, and also vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Choose unsweetened and enriched varieties.

Oats and Oatmeal - Oats are a great source of complex carbohydrate, protein, minerals and vitamins. One cup of rolled oats contains about 11 g of protein and 8 g of fiber. Oats are also a rich source of minerals such as zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate.

Wild Rice - Wild rice contains about 1.5 times as much protein as other cultivated whole long-grain rice varieties such as plain brown rice and basmati. A cup or cooked wild rice yields about 7 g of protein. In addition, wild rice is a good source of fiber, and minerals such as copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and B Group vitamins. Wild rice retains the bran which is the source of many of the beneficial nutrients

Chia Seeds - These seeds are derived from the plant Salvia hispanica, which is native to Mexico and Guatemala. A 100 g serving of Chia provides about 15 grams of protein and 30 grams of fiber. Chia Seeds also contain good levels of minerals such as calcium, iron, selenium. Chia is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and various antioxidants.

Nuts, Nut butters, and Seeds - Most nuts, seeds, and their various derived products are good sources of protein. Nuts and various seeds are also rich in healthy fats, fiber and minerals such as magnesium, selenium, iron, calcium and phosphorus. They are also a rich source of vitamin E, B Group vitamins and many antioxidants. Raw and unblanched nuts are healthier than roasted nuts. The cooking can reduce the level of active compounds. See the table above for the protein contents of common types of nuts.

Protein-Rich Fruits and Vegetables - While most fruits and vegetables have little protein, there are exceptions. Vegetables yielding the most protein include broccoli, spinach, artichokes, potatoes, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. Some of these contain about 5 g per cooked cup. Fresh fruits generally contain less protein than vegetables. The fruits with the highest levels of protein include blackberries, nectarines, guava, cherimoyas, mulberries and bananas. Some fruit varieties have 2–4 g of vegetable protein per cup.

Mushrooms - Some varieties of mushroom have small amounts of protein in them. For example, 100 g of general purpose white mushrooms contains about 3 g of protein.