What are good sources of heart-healthy plant proteins?

Good sources of heart-healthy plant proteins include:
  • Beans: Beans are a great source of protein and have the added benefit of being high in soluble fiber and other nutrients. There are many types of beans that can be used in a variety of ways. Examples include black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, split peas, black-eyed peas, and lentils.
  • Soy and soy products: Heart-healthy soy protein is found in soybeans (also called edamame), tofu, tempeh, soymilk, soy yogurt, textured soy protein, soy flour, soy nuts, and soy protein powder. Several "meat substitutes" such as meatless burgers and hotdogs also contain soy protein.
  • Nuts and nut products: Nuts are an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats. Evidence suggests that people who eat nuts at least 4 to 5 times per week are less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease. Some good nuts to try are almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, peanuts, pine nuts, and walnuts.
  • Seeds: Seeds, like nuts, provide protein along with numerous other heart-healthy nutrients. A few good examples include pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. Use seeds on top of salads and cereals or mixed into a healthy trail mix.
Lona Sandon
Nutrition & Dietetics
Heart healthy plant proteins include beans, nuts, nut butters, seeds, legumes, and soy. These foods are also great sources of other nutrients such as folate, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E. Whole grains are also a source of plant proteins, although not as much as found in the other foods.

Try adding beans or chopped nuts to salads, legumes to soup, stews, or stir fries, and spread nut butters on whole grain crisp breads or mix into smoothies with soy milk to boost your protein from plant sources.
Mary A. McLaughlin, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Plants can be a great source of healthy protein. Legumes (ie beans and peas), whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, barley, wheat), vegetables, fruit, seeds (sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin), nuts and nut spreads (ie almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, peanut butter) are all an excellent way to incorporate protein into your diet without adding saturated fat.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.