6 High-Protein Vegetables to Build Muscle, Improve Gut Health – TODAY

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Believe it or not, eating vegetables can help you build muscle. Veggies are known for their vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, but some of them also contribute plant-based protein to the diet. 

According to The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s always a good idea to eat more plants. As a matter of fact, these healthy eating recommendations encourage all Americans to increase their intake of dried beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts. A simple way to do this is to replace some of the animal products in your diet with veggies.

While the protein in these veggies may seem small compared to animal foods, every gram counts toward your daily allotment. Most people need at least 20 grams of protein per meal, and including various protein sources is a good way to reach that goal.

Mix and match these veggies with other protein sources, like beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, eggs, fish or poultry, for a well-balanced protein-packed meal.


  • 1 medium potato = 4 grams of protein

This starchy tuber is known for being full of carbs, but it also has one of the highest protein counts of any veggie. A medium white potato has 4 grams of protein, plus potassium, vitamin C and fiber. Research shows that potatoes are beneficial for heart health, gut health and even appetite control.

Adding a baked potato to any meal is a great way to increase the plant-based protein. Or, use potatoes as a vehicle for stuffing with protein-packed ingredients, like shredded chicken, black beans or cheese. 


  • 1 cup chopped = 3 grams of protein

As one of the most popular veggies around, you can always feel good about eating broccoli. The combination of fiber and protein make this cruciferous veggie a filling ingredient. Broccoli also has plant compounds called glucosinolates that have anticancer effects, according to the National Cancer Institute.

There are a multitude of ways to use broccoli, from roasting it in the oven and serving it alongside the main dish, to grating it raw into a salad.

Brussels sprouts

  • 1 cup = 3 grams of protein

This variety of cabbage has soared in popularity in recent years, and like broccoli, Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous veggie that adds some protein into your diet. Brussels sprouts pack a lot of nutrition into a tiny package, serving up vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds.

Whip up healthy and crispy golden brown Brussels sprouts in the air fryer, or make Brussels sprouts the star of the show in this warm winter salad.


  • 1 cup = 3 grams of protein

Asparagus is an underutilized spring veggie that is rich in vitamin A, folate and fiber with a dash of protein. Vitamin A is an important part of overall eye health and folate plays a role in fetal development and healthy pregnancy. 

Pair asparagus with bright citrus in this completely plant-based tofu dish or mix it into a simple spring breakfast tart.


  • 1 medium artichoke = 4 grams of protein

Artichokes may not be on your daily menu, but they should definitely be in the rotation. They are rich in prebiotic fiber, which promotes the growth of probiotics (good bacteria) in the gut. A flourishing gut is crucial for immunity and brain health.

Cooking an artichoke from scratch is a bit tricky, but luckily they are available in canned and jarred options. Chicken Scaloppine with canned artichoke is a savory and satisfying main dish with plenty of protein. If you’re in the mood for comfort food, use artichokes in a lightened up cheesy dip


  • 1 medium ear = 3 grams of protein

Corn gets a bad rap, but it actually has protein and fiber, two nutrients that help keep you full. Not to mention that corn is a great way to satisfy your craving for something sweet without any added sugar.

Corn on the cob is a delicious side dish in the summer, but you can also use canned or frozen corn all year round. Whip up a hearty corn chowder to warm you up this winter.

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