The Best Vegetarian Protein Source

Hi everyone,

I thought given my fondness for vegetarian sources of protein some others may appreciate the below table that I have put together to help understand the pros and the gaps in the overall nutritional offering in regards to some of the key nutrients people look for when selecting a protein rich food source.

I have tried to include a number of the relatively popular vegetarian sources of protein so that for those of you meat eaters who are trying to bring in some more vegetarian options, you can see how they all stack up, and understand how to balance out your meal with other foods so that you are not left hungry, or over full!

There are obviously far more options that could have been included in the table, such as a variety of dairy, hemp, chia, algae, and sacha inchi based products, as well as many varieties of vegetables. However, for the sake of brevity, I couldn’t include everything today!

I have highlighted a few things to hopefully assist:

1. Some of the lower kilojoule/calorie options that proportionately provide the higher amount of protein.

2. The highest protein option per 100g.

3. The general fact that they are all relatively low in sugar and sodium.

4. Some of the best sources of iron (taking into consideration some of the iron will be heme iron from the animal based sources such as fish, as well as the denser plant based sources coming from non-heme iron which will not actually be as well absorbed by the body).

5. Some of the best sources of zinc, although still taking into consideration it is a plant source of zinc that may be less well absorbed based on anti nutrients present in the foods.

6. The most dense sources of B12.

7. Some of the best sources of omega-3’s, and taking into consideration that the animal based omega-3’s will be coming from more bioavailable forms (DHA and EPA, rather than ALA found in plants).

I did not include some of the more “supplemental” protein sources such as protein powders made from hemp, rice, pea, sacha inchi (and the list goes on), however I may just come back to cover that in another post 🙂

For now, Enjoy!

Vegetarian Protein Sources – Nutrition Facts Table:

data drawn from with assistance from Felicity Curtain.

Protein source Values per Calories Kilojoules Protein Fat, total Fat, sat. Carbs Sugar Sodium Iron Zinc B12 Omega 3s
tofu 100g 58 241kJ 20.0g 1.5g 0.2g 0.0g 0.0g 2mg 1.6mg 0.8mg 0.0mg 181mg
tempeh 100g 57 240kJ 19.0g 2.4g 0.4g 3.0g 0.0g 2mg 2.7mg 1.1mg 0.1mg 200mg
quorn mince 100g 104 434kJ 15.9g 1.6g 0.5g 4.1g 0.5g 48mg 2.0mg 1.5mg 6.5mg 1.0mg
quorn burger 100g 121 506kJ 13.4g 4.5g 0.5g 4.5g 0.5g 220mg 1.7mg 1.3mg 6.7mg 1.5mg
lentils 100g 77 323kJ 10.0g 0.4g 0.1g 9.5g 0.5g 8mg 7.5mg 4.8mg 0.0mg 109mg
black beans 100g 127 532kJ 9.0g 1.0g 0.0g 24.0g 0.0g 1mg 5.0mg 3.6mg 0.0mg 278mg
kidney beans 100g 135 533kJ 12.8g 0.4g 0.1g 14.7g 1.2g 3mg 8.0mg 2.8mg 0.0mg 280mg
chickpeas 100g 107 446kJ 6.3g 2.1g 0.2g 13.3g 0.6g 7mg 6.2mg 3.4mg 0.0mg 101mg
cannellini beans 100g 108 451kJ 7.7g 0.8g 0.0g 17.7g 0.8g 10g 7.7mg 2.8mg 0.0mg 231mg
quinoa -cooked 100g 120 503kJ 5.0g 1.9g 0.0g 21.3g 0.0g 7mg 4.6mg 3.1mg 0.0mg 307mg
almonds 100g 599 2503kJ 19.5g 54.7g 3.7g 4.8g 4.8g 5mg 4.5mg 3.5mg 0.0mg 100mg
cashews 100g 583 2437kJ 17.0g 49.2g 8.4g 16.8g 5.5g 11mg 6.1mg 5.3mg 0.0mg 68.0mg
eggs 100g 140 587kJ 12.7g 9.9g 2.7g 0.3g 0.3g 134mg 1.8mg 1.1mg 1.3mg 74.0mg
tuna – canned in springwater 100g 112 470kJ 25.3g 1.1g 0.4g 0.0g 0.0g 130mg 1.5mg 0.8mg 3.0mg 281mg
salmon 100g 202 845kJ 20.7g 13.3g 3.7g 0.0g 0.0g 42mg 0.8mg 0.6mg 3.2mg 2018mg
trout fillet 100g 148 619kJ 20.7g 6.6g 1.1g 0.0g 0.0g 50mg 0.7mg 1.1mg 4.5mg 812mg
whiting 100g 90 377kJ 18.3g 1.3g 0.2g 0.0g 0.0g 60mg 0.3mg 0.9mg 2.3mg 276mg
prawns 100g 89 371kJ 20.5g 0.6g 0.2g 0.0g 0.0g 100mg 2.4mg 1.1mg 1.2mg 540mg

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