Monday, August 27

Protein Primer: Part Pi*

Protein tallying is a persnickity pastime. Coffee, with its trace of protein and its utter absence of calories, looks superficially like the number-one way to get low-calorie nutrition. But the protein level in coffee is so minute you'd be better off gnawing on a wad of your own hair.

Ever-willing to provide me genuine low-calories sources of protein, my magical database yields up some other interesting finds.

Today we present the most useful list yet: Top-twenty raw-vegan sources of protein, in anti-Letterman order. The number following each listing is the number of calories per gram of protein. We've left out several items you'll probably never use (drumstick leaves, skunk cabbage, cottonseed meal), so when we eventually make public the entire list (all calculated by nutritional value in 100 grams of food**), you'll find 519 raw food options that have 50 calories or less per gram of protein***. But this list should keep you busy shopping for the remainder of the day:

  1. Seaweed, Spirulina (4.4)
  2. Watercress (4.8)
  3. Vital Wheat Gluten (4.9)
  4. Alfalfa Seeds, Sprouted (5.8)
  5. Seaweed, Laver (6.0)
  6. Pumpkin Leaves (6.0)
  7. Sesame Flour, Low-Fat (6.6)
  8. Sunflower Seed Flour, Part Defatted (6.8)
  9. Soy Meal, Defatted (6.8)
  10. Kidney Beans, Mature Seeds, Sprouted (6.9)
  11. Broccoli Raab (6.9)
  12. Soy Flour, Defatted (7.0)
  13. Winged Beans, Immature Seeds (7.1)
  14. Cowpeas, Leafy Tips (7.1)
  15. White Mushrooms (7.1)
  16. Chrysanthemum Leaves (7.1)
  17. Fresh Basil (7.3)
  18. Frozen Asparagus (7.4)
  19. Fiddlehead Ferns (7.5) -- tied with an item NOT on the government's database, Hemp Powder (7.5)
  20. Baby Zucchini (7.7)
- - - -
*Pi: The Khmer word for "Two". Anything for alliteration.

** Conversion: 100 grams is about 3.5 ounces, which equals a cup of powedered sugar; 2/3 cup of chopped fruit, veggies, or nuts; or 1/3 cup of salt. Ten grams equals a tablespoon of bread crumbs.

*** For comparison purposes, a piece of extra crispy KFC fried chicken weighs in at a tubby 42.3 calories per gram of protein. Just in case you wondered.


  1. Hi! Do you know where I can find this defatted sunflower seed flour?

    1. When I'm not grinding my own flour (love my wheat grinder), I look to Bob's Red Mill. Here's the link for their defatted soy flour. Might be worth chatting them up for the sunflower version.