Protein is one of three macronutrients. The other two are fat and carbohydrates. These are the components of food that provide us with energy. Protein exists in two forms: plant based and animal based. So yes, fruits, legumes, and vegetables do indeed contain at least some protein.
Generally, legumes and vegetables contain more protein than fruits, although avocado - a fruit - is quite rich in protein. The key difference between the two forms of protein is that while meat, eggs, and dairy make up complete proteins (those which contain all the essential and non essential amino acids), the protein in plants (except soybean) is incomplete.
Our bodies actually have a biological requirement for amino acids, not for protein. Our bodies are unable to make 9 of the 20 common amino acids, so we must get these amino acids from our diets. Because we need all 9 of these amino acids for our bodies to make a complete protein, vegans must eat enough of a variety of different plant proteins to ensure their diet is providing the right mix of amino acids to meet their protein building needs.
The advantage of plant protein sources over animal protein is that plant protein sources are low in fat content and high in dietary fibre. The following legumes and vegetables contain higher levels of protein:
- grains: bulgur, barley, corn meal, whole-grain breads
- legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, peanuts, soy products
- seeds and nuts: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews
- vegetables: leafy greens, spinach, broccoli
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