Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.
Proteins are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. The sequence of amino acids determines each protein’s unique 3-dimensional structure and its specific function.
Like carbohydrates and fat, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning that you need relatively large amounts of it to stay healthy.
The function of proteins
In virtually every biological process proteins are playing a role.
Build, strengthen and repair/replace things, such as tissue. Examples include keratin (strengthens protective coverings, such as hair), collagen and elastin (both provide support for connective tissue).
Make antibodies for our immune system
Make hormones, which help cells send messages and coordinate bodily activities
Muscle contractions – actin and myosin, two types of proteins, are involved in muscle contraction and movement.
Make enzymes. An enzyme facilitates a biochemical reaction.
Carry things – hemoglobin, a protein, transports oxygen through the blood.
Mediate cell response – rhodopsin is a protein in the eye which is used for vision
Store things – ferritin is a protein which stores iron in the liver.
10 vegetable protein sources:
With more protein than any other bean variety, cooked soybeans have about 28 grams per cup, roughly the amount of protein that can be found in 150 grams of chicken. More important, soybeans are one of only two complete plant proteins. A complete protein is one that contains significant amounts of all the essential amino acids that must be provided to the human body because of the body’s inability to synthesize them. For this reason, soy is a good source of protein, amongst many others, for vegetarians and vegans or for people who want to reduce the amount of meat they eat.
A serving of soybeans also contains 17 grams of carbs and 15 grams of fats, 58 percent of which are essential fatty acids. The insoluble fiber in these beans promotes digestive health, while the unsaturated fat promotes cardiovascular health.
protein content: 28.6 g per cup (boiled)
Edamame—immature soybeans that are boiled or steamed in the pod—contains 22 grams of protein per cup. Pair that with your main protein dish, and you’ll be well on your way to the recommended 30 grams of protein per meal.
Edamame purchased fresh is preferred when eaten the same day, but will stay edible for two days when stored in the refrigerator if not already brown. Freezing fresh edamame is another option for maintaining good quality over a few months.
Protein content: 16.9 g per cup (cooked)
From string beans to chickpeas, beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein. When it comes to legumes, lentils are among the winners. They contain about 18 grams of protein per cup when cooked, and at 230 calories per serving, they’re great for anyone watching their calorie intake.
Lentils are also a great source of dietary fiber and contain a high amount of the micronutrients folate, thiamin, phosphorus, and iron. Toss them into a cold salad, use them in a soup, or even mould them into a protein-packed meat-free patty.
Protein content: 17.9 g per cup (boiled)
Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family whose large flowerhead is eaten as a vegetable. Often thought of as simply a side dish to accompany beef or chicken, one cup of chopped broccoli has 2.6 grams of protein all on its own. And unlike your standard animal-based protein, a cup of these green florets also packs over 100 percent of your daily need for vitamins C and K.
Broccoli is also a good source of folate, another important vitamin that has been shown to decrease the risk of certain types of cancer.
Protein content: 2.6 grams per cup.
Peas contain just under 9 grams of protein per cup. They’re also a good source of vitamin A, C, thiamin, phosphorous, and iron. Additionally, the generous amounts of B vitamins and folate found in peas can help reduce your risk for heart disease.
Each serving also contains 5.5 grams of fiber. Toss these little guys into a salad, serve them alongside a serving of chicken breast, or add them to a hearty pasta primavera on a high-carb day.
Protein content: 8.6 g per one cup.
asparagus is considered protein-rich in the vegetable world. Just 100 grams of the green stuff contains 2.4 grams of protein.
Asparagus is just packed with health benefits: It’s loaded with nutrients: Asparagus is also a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
Asparagus is also a good source of potassium and antioxidants.
Protein content: 2.4 grams of protein per 100 grams.
7 PUMPKIN SEEDS
With a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to copper, protein and zinc, pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses wrapped up in a very small package. They also contain plant compounds known as phytosterols and free-radical scavenging antioxidants, which can give your health an added boost.
In addition to being a plant-based protein bomb, diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been associated with lower levels of gastric, breast, lung, and colorectal cancer. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Protein content: 5.2 grams per ounce (roasted)
8 MUNG BEAN SPROUTS
Mung beans are a high source of nutrients including: manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, zinc and various B vitamins. They are also a very filling food, high in protein, resistant starch and dietary fiber.
One cup of cooked beans contains 2.5 grams of protein, and is packed with other nutrients such as lecithin, which may lower cholesterol, and zinc, a mineral that plays an important role in optimizing physical performance.
Protein content: 2.5 grams per cup (cooked)
Kale or leaf cabbage is a group of vegetable cultivars within the plant species Brassica oleracea. Kales are considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms of Brassica oleracea.
Kale is packed with nutrition that puts it high on the list of the world’s healthiest foods. The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6 content in kale all support heart health.
Protein content: 4.3 grams (100 g of kale)
Mushrooms are a good source of proteins.
Countless studies have suggested that increasing consumption of naturally-grown foods like mushrooms decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Protein content: 3.6 grams (100 g of mushrooms)