Protein helps build, repair and maintain muscle tissue, and is therefore essential for optimum muscle growth. That’s why foods like meat and eggs are highly recommended for people who are training. But where do you get your protein if you’re vegetarian? Check out this list of 10 power-packed vegetarian foods that’ll help you meet your daily protein quota.

There’s a common misconception that a vegetarian meal plan falls short when it comes to meeting your daily protein quota. As a vegetarian fitness coach, I can confidently tell you that the truth lies elsewhere.

Not only have I been able to meet my own fitness goals on a vegetarian diet, I have helped hundreds of my vegetarian clients do the same without compromising on their food choices. Here’s a list of protein-packed vegetarian foods that I highly recommend all vegetarians include in their diet:

1. Paneer

You get about 18 grams of protein from every 100 grams of paneer you eat! It’s also rich in calcium and is therefore great for bone and cartilage growth. Paneer contains Vitamin B, which helps the body to absorb and distribute the calcium. Paneer is also rich in magnesium, which helps activate enzymes in our bodies, and supports the proper functioning of our nerves and muscles. What’s more? You can get 4% of your daily recommended dose of zinc in just one serving of paneer!

2. Almonds

You get 21 grams of protein per 100 grams of almonds. A great source of the antioxidant Vitamin E, almonds contain high levels of magnesium with almost half the daily recommended dose of magnesium in just 2 ounces of almonds. Moreover, almonds, along with peanuts and walnuts (which will make their due appearance in this list) can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 2-3 times!

3. Cashew nuts

Cashews are more than just that extra topping on your biryani. Containing 18 grams of protein per 100 grams, cashews are rich in proanthocyanidins, a potent antioxidant, as well as copper, which together help lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Cashews are also a cholesterol-free source of magnesium, which is just as important as calcium in maintaining bone health.

4. Walnuts

Apart from being rich in iron, selenium, calcium, zinc, vitamin E and some B vitamins, walnuts give you about 15 grams of protein per 100 gram serving. Like all nuts, walnuts contain good fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). Additionally, they are a good source of the essential fatty acid Omega-3, which helps improve brain signals and neurogenesis, or the creation of neurons.

5. Peanuts

Peanuts give you 26 grams of protein per 100 grams serving. According to a recent study, a daily serving of peanuts can lower the risk of diabetes by 21%. This can be attributed to the presence of manganese, a mineral that plays an important role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation. The humble peanut is also a good source of Vitamin B and folate, which contribute to healthy hair.

6. Sunflower Seeds

You might have come across this unexpected candidate in other articles. Well, sunflower seeds are indeed a rich source of protein (21 grams of protein per 100 grams), and help improve cholesterol levels, support bone health, and control blood sugar levels. Believed to aid weight loss, they also help detoxify your body, in turn giving you healthy, glowing skin. What’s more, they will also help you get restful sleep and wake up in a good mood!

7. Pumpkin Seeds

Clocking in at 19 grams of protein per every 100 grams, pumpkin seeds are another super healthy snack! They are rich in antioxidants, fiber and magnesium, and have been found to improve prostate and bladder health. They have also been found to reduce the risk of cancer, while lowering blood sugar levels and possibly promoting a healthy heart.

8. Whole Lentils

Whole lentils, including red lentils, whole urad dal, yellow moong dal, etc., are an essential source of protein and amino acids, containing 25 grams of protein per 100 grams of uncooked whole lentils. They are a good source of potassium and are high in iron and fiber. They help lower blood sugar levels, balance cholesterol levels, and improve the health of your heart.

9. Kale

Kale has gained a lot of popularity as a power food in recent years, and this is one trend that has a great deal of truth to it. For one thing, it has been proven to have more iron than beef! And is considered one the world’s best sources of Vitamin K and Vitamin C. One cup of kale contains 10% of the recommended daily allowance of the Omega-3 fatty acids, while every 100 grams of kale has 5 grams of protein. A powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, kale promotes healthy liver function, strengthens the immune system and supports the formation of haemoglobin.

10. Broccoli

With 3 grams of protein per 100 gram serving, broccoli is a rich source of folic acid, fiber, minerals, Vitamin K and Vitamin C. High in potassium, broccoli boosts the immune system, while also reducing the risk of cancer. By consuming just 100 grams of broccoli, you can get 14% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A.

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