The Power of Plant-Based Protein

August 4, 2020
| Created by Harmons

The following blog post was contributed by BYU Nutrition Intern, Sharee Osborn.

From vegan and vegetarian diets to simply including more fruits and vegetables in your diet, plant-based eating is becoming an important aspect of our food culture. Knowing how to choose healthy, plant-based proteins is an essential skill to have when following a plant-based eating style.

Why Protein?

Protein is one of the three main nutrients our bodies need to function properly. Proteins provide the body with important building blocks called amino acids that can be used by the body to build new proteins. The formation of new proteins is essential for the building, repairing, and growth of the body. If we aren’t getting protein through animal sources like meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy, plant-based protein options are the perfect way to meet your body’s needs.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein! Only one ounce of peanuts contains about seven grams of protein. Other nuts that are particularly high in protein include almonds, butternuts, and hazelnuts. Try some of these nut and seed ideas for a protein-packed diet!

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Cashews
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Nut spreads (almond, peanut)


The term legume refers to beans, lentils, and peas which are another great source of plant-based protein. One serving (1/2 cup) of black beans contains about seven grams of protein. In addition to providing protein, legumes are also packed with fiber. Get creative with adding legumes to your diet and try out some of the options below.

  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Peas
  • Hummus
  • Tofu


Are grains really a good source of protein? Yes! Even though we connect grains with carbs, they can also be a source of some protein as well. Quinoa is an example of a protein packed grain that contains six grams of protein per 1/4 cup. Grains are also essential because they provide amino acids that you wouldn’t get from consuming nuts and legumes. So, when choosing plant-based proteins, don’t overlook these great grain options!

  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Long grain rice
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Shredded wheat cereals
  • Whole wheat bread

When you are choosing plant-based proteins, make sure to combine a variety of nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains to meet all your nutrient needs. If you exclude animal products completely from your diet, consult with a physician or dietitian about other nutrient needs like vitamin B12 that are not found in plant-based proteins. For more information on plant-based shopping check out our Harmons eShop collection on plant-based eating or check out the links below!

Credit: USDA Nutrient Lists from Standard Reference Legacy (2018)