If you are trying to lose weight and maintain a healthy diet, protein is a critical part of your daily food intake. Along with carbohydrates and fat, protein is a macronutrient, meaning your body needs a lot of it. But, unlike fat and carbs, your body doesn't store protein and has no reservoir to draw from when it needs a new supply.You don't need to eat protein all day long to maintain muscle mass or lose weight. Instead, you can benefit from getting protein from better food sources to help your body function well. The healthiest option is to choose your protein sources wisely -- processed meats such as sausage, hot dogs and deli meats make it hard to manage weight loss while also contributing to a higher risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.

That's why health experts recommend that you get your protein from things such as fish, poultry, beans, nuts and whole grains. This way, you are consuming less fat, still getting your healthy carbs in and you are also getting valuable fiber that your body also needs. There are vegetables out there that pack a protein punch that you can use as a side dish or add to an entree that will make sure you are getting the protein you need while contributing to a healthy diet.

Broccoli

broccoli

With 4.26 grams of protein per stalk, broccoli has a high protein content for a vegetable. It is also an awesome source of fiber and vitamins K and C and helps deliver cancer-fighter compounds. You can use cooked or raw broccoli in a variety of recipes from salads to soups, or simply steam it by itself and squeeze some lemon juice over it.

Yellow Sweet Corn

yellow sweet corn

If you add yellow sweet corn to a dish full of protein-rich veggies and legumes, it can round out a plant-based dish quite nicely because half a cup of corn holds two grams of protein. Most conventional corn is genetically modified, so it is better to pick out organic or non-GMO fresh or frozen varieties.

Potatoes

Potatoes are also not considered the most nutritional vegetables, but depending on how you eat them they can contribute to your protein intake. Eating a medium sized potato with the skin left on provides you with just over four grams of protein, as well as giving you 20 percent of your daily recommended value of potassium.

Green Peas

Green peas can be a delicious addition to many recipes. They are an excellent source of protein -- with 7.86grams per cup -- and you can enjoy them either fresh or frozen.

Edamame

Edamame packs a punch of 18 grams of protein in a one-cup serving; however, be sure to pick out the organic kind, because most soybeans in the US are genetically modified and treated with pesticides.

Asparagus

There are a lot of reasons to fill your plate with this superfood. Whether you eat these yummy spears roasted, grilled or steamed, you will find this veggie loaded with protein, vitamins C, K, and B6 and fiber. Not only is it low in calories and fat, but the fiber and protein content can also help you feel satiated, leading to weight loss.

fresh asparagus wrapped in prosciutto on a board

Brussels Sprouts

With three grams of protein in each one cup serving, Brussels sprouts are delicious when roasted, steamed, or even shredded in a salad. They are also high in fiber, so even if you weren't a big fan as a kid, it might be time to give them another chance for your health's sake.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms can make a delicious, filling and nutritious addition to any meal, especially when you cook them on a hot grill with a drizzle of olive oil. Then, when they are almost done, add a little garlic and parsley and throw them in the oven. The firm texture and immune boosting properties of mushrooms such as the cordyceps, reishi, maitake varieties make them a tasty and protein-filled addition to any diet.

Avocado

Avocados have two grams of protein per 100 grams, as well providing high amounts of healthy fats, making them a wonderful staple to have in your diet. You can try it in a pudding or a smoothie to give it a thicker twist. It can be made into a spread for toast or even used as a butter substitute in cooking or baking.

avocado toast

Protein-Rich Recipes To Try

Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Toast with Balsamic Drizzle

This protein-filled lunch features avocados, tomatoes and a balsamic drizzle with toast and olive oil. It showcases the flavor of the tomatoes paired with avocado toast, and the entire meal is just over 400 calories.

Edamame Stir-fry with Asparagus, Scallions, and Egg

An excellent option for reducing saturated fat and boosting fiber, this recipe doesn't take long to make and only has 159 calories per serving, plus 13 grams of protein.

Mexican Zucchini Burrito Boats

A meatless and gluten-free meal packed with flavor, this recipe features protein sources such as black beans and corn. It's super easy to make, doesn't take long and is a healthy option when you have a craving for Mexican food.

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