Though it's hard to overstate the myriad benefits of adding more vegetables to your diet, their protein content probably isn't the first benefit that comes to mind.

However, especially if you're a frequent exerciser or a vegetarian or vegan, it can be very important to make sure you get enough of that life-sustaining nutrient—and there's no reason that veggies can't help you do it!

While meat, legumes, or eggs should probably make up the primary protein portion of any given meal, vegetables are unlikely to add a lot of fat or calories to your diet in exchange for a small protein boost, unlike other potential protein-y extras like nuts, cheese, and other dairy products.

Additionally, even if the amount of protein found in your typical vegetable sounds small, choosing the right veggies throughout the day could end up making a big difference in your diet.

For example, two cups of a 3-gram-per-serving vegetable with lunch, 2 cups of a 4-gram-per-serving vegetable with dinner, and 2 cups of a 2-gram-per-serving vegetable as a snack would net you 18 extra grams of protein overall, which is more than you'd find in 2 large eggs!

(Note that while legumes, which come from the seed of a plant rather than its roots or leaves, can sometimes be considered vegetables culinarily speaking, they are considered proteins for the purposes of the 123Diet, so they also won't be included for the purposes of this article.)

1. Leafy Greens

kale

These all around superfoods are well known for their high fiber, micro-nutrient, and antioxidant content, but did you know that most of them are packing a fair amount of protein as well?

Since cooked vegetables are denser, just about all of these veggies will have more protein if eaten cooked than raw, though they may end up containing less vitamins and more calories as well. One cup of cooked spinach, for instance, contains a respectable 5.35 grams of protein, while a cup of raw spinach contains a measly .86.

Similar phenomena can be observed, for instance, in beet greens, (3.70 grams cooked, 0.84 grams raw), and kale (2.47 grams, 0.68 grams), so this is one case where a little cooking might work in favor of your health and your palate.

A cooked cup of collard greens might offer you up to 10 percent of your daily value of protein, and mustard greens and swiss chard each boast around 7 percent. Then there's broccoli, which has a respectable 2.6 grams of protein per cup even if it's merely been chopped!

2. Zucchini

zucchini

A cup of cooked sliced zucchini weighs in at a little over 2 grams of protein; so not quite as good as most of its green cousins, but still worth its weight on your plate!

A serving of zucchini will also offer you almost half your daily suggested intake of Vitamin A and smaller amounts of many other vitamins and minerals, all for only 3 grams of carbs and only 17 calories!

If you're looking for a more creative way to enjoy zucchini, try using "zoodles" (zucchini noodles) as a pasta substitute!

3. Cauliflower

cauliflower

A cup of chopped cauliflower contains a little over 2 grams of protein in only 27 calories. It's also got nearly 80 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, some of the same cancer-fighting glucosinolates as its leafy green friends, and about 10 percent of your recommended daily intake of hard-to-find nutrient choline.

4. Avocado

avocado

A one cup serving of avocado contains about 3 grams of protein, while a more conservative half-avocado serving will still offer you about 2. Eating up the whole avocado will leave you four, but bear in mind that it will also cost you a pretty hefty 322 calories!

5. Mushrooms

mushrooms

These fungi aren't technically vegetables, but they are pretty protein-packed as far as (honorary) vegetables go. A cup of grilled portabella mushrooms has about 4 grams of protein, while one cup servings of stir-fried shiitake or boiled white mushrooms have about three and a half grams each. Vegetarians should also take note that mushrooms are one of a limited number of non-animal sources of Vitamin D.

Other options include oyster mushrooms, which contain about 7 percent of your daily value of protein, morel mushrooms, (6 percent), enoki mushrooms (5 percent), maitake mushrooms, and crimini mushrooms (4 percent each).

6. Asparagus

asparagus

Good old asparagus! It's a diuretic, a vitamin and antioxidant powerhouse, and even an awesome vegetable protein source. A cup of raw asparagus contains about 3 grams of protein, while a cup of cooked asparagus contains a little over four. You'll get a dose of gut-healthy pre-biotic fiber as well!

7. Artichokes

artichoke

One whole artichoke will contain between four and five grams of protein and between 60 and 80 calories depending on its size, while a slightly more conservative hundred gram serving will weight in at 3 and a half grams of protein and slightly under fifty calories. You'll also get 7 grams of fiber, tons of vitamins and minerals, and some liver-boosting antioxidants!

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