You need not be a doctor, a dietician, a personal trainer, or an avid fitness enthusiast to know that protein is important. And even if you don’t exactly know what protein does for you, you likely know that it is good, after all, the talk shows, magazines, books, and internet wouldn’t lie, would they?
While the overall credibility of those sources of information can be debated for days, fortunately, they got it right when it comes to protein, for of all the types of food that we eat and compounds we put into our system, none is as an important component of every cell in your body like protein. However, if you were to ask your average person about protein, they could likely tell you sources of it – like meat – but as far as what it does, you’d likely get blank stares. So we wanted to try and fix that.
Protein can come in many different forms and it has many different functions within our bodies. For starters, at our very core is protein; as part of our DNA. Proteins combine with nucleic acids to form nucleoproteins, in the nucleus of every cell in your body. However, proteins do much, much more than just help makes us who inherently are.
Enzymes are another form of protein, and these are the ones that make everything happen; like breaking down food for absorption; to regulate the entry of nutrients through cell walls, the removal of waste products; and to grow, develop, move, reproduce. Hemoglobin is the protein which, with iron, carries oxygen throughout your body every day; while Myoglobin and elastin are the two main types of proteins found in your muscle fibers.
Bones too are mainly composed of protein, along with calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. We need protein so that our hormones can send chemical messages between nerve cells and regulate metabolism and antibodies which circulate in your blood to protect you against viruses.
Still scratching your head and wondering if protein is important? Well, you wouldn’t even be able to do that without protein as keratin is produced via proteins and is what makes up your hair and nails.
While the above is some examples of what proteins do that many people don’t know about, aside from reciting the word “meat” when asked about good sources of protein, most people also find themselves drawing a blank. And considering that an ever growing number of men and women are turning away from meat in their daily diet, the need to find alternative sources of protein is of mounting concern. Fortunately, a person needs not to compromise their ideals, beliefs or preferences in order to get their fill of protein; that’s because there is a surprisingly large array of vegetables that contain plenty of protein to satiate even the most protein hungry diet. So what are these magical vegetables that could topple the meat, AKA, the protein prince? Keep reading to find out.
Note: While the title suggests that we will only be showcasing vegetables here today, for the sake of full disclosure, we will also be looking at some equally as tasty plant-based foods.
Love it or hate it, you can’t argue that broccoli is good for you. A 1-cup (91-gram) serving of raw chopped broccoli can provide 2.6 grams of protein, including all the essential amino acids. It also contains plenty of folate, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins C and K. And the best part? For all of those awesome nutrients, a one cup serving of broccoli contains only 31 calories.
Not only is broccoli full of protein, it also provides high amounts of plant compounds and flavonoids, like kaempferol. These can provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. And similar to all other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli has a high content of glucosinolates, compounds that may help reduce the risk of cancer. Additionally, broccoli can help improve liver health by stimulating detoxification and the production of antioxidant compounds in the liver.
If you are looking to add more broccoli to your diet, you should know that broccoli can be prepared in any number of ways. From steaming to roasted, from baked to sautéed; broccoli is at home in side dishes, soups, and sauces.