Whether you are looking to better your diet or seeking to lose weight, choosing foods high in protein has many benefits, including muscle building, weight loss, and feeling fuller after eating. To improve health benefits and nutrient intake, it’s important to choose a variety of protein foods. If you are an omnivore, you have lots of protein options, including seafood, meat and poultry. Vegetarians and omnivores can find protein from other options like beans and peas, processed soy products, nuts and seeds.
Be sure to check out this extensive list of protein rich foods, as well as recipe suggestions for you to try and enjoy.
What foods are in the Protein Foods Group?
All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the “Protein Foods Group”.
Whole eggs are loaded with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, eye-protecting antioxidants and brain nutrients. This makes them one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods. Whole eggs have 6 grams of protein and egg whites are almost pure protein, making them a great addition to a meal or by themselves. I like to keep hard boiled eggs on hand for a quick snack.
2. Cottage Cheese
Protein rich cottage cheese is a type of cheese that is very low in fat and calories. A cup of cottage cheese has 27 grams of protein. It contains calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and various other nutrients. It’s delicious by itself or as an addition to salad.
Milk contains a little bit of almost every single nutrient needed by the human body. The challenge is many people are intolerant to it. But if you enjoy milk and can drink it, it provides several impressive health benefits. A cup of whole mile has 8 grams of protein. Milk is high in calcium, phosphorus and riboflavin (vitamin B2). Chocolate milk has been shown to help with muscle repair if enjoyed after a workout.
4. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt, is a thick yogurt with a creamy texture that is high in many nutrients. One 6-ounce (170-gram) container has 17 grams of protein, Use Greek yogurt to make this weight watchers friendly pizza.
Almonds, a type of tree nut are loaded with important nutrients, including fiber, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium. An ounce of almonds has about 7 grams of protein. Enjoying almonds daily can help you maintain a healthy weight and decrease the odds of gaining any back due to the nutrients ability control the fluctuations of blood glucose during digestion. Impressive, huh?
Your morning oatmeal is a great way to get some protein. Half a cup of raw oats has 13 grams of protein. Oats are one of the healthiest grains, loaded with healthy fibers, magnesium, manganese, thiamin (vitamin B1) and several other nutrients. If you want to save time in the morning, enjoy overnight oats.
7. Lean beef
Lean beef is very high in protein, has highly bioavailable iron, vitamin B12 and large amounts of other important nutrients. One of my favorite ways to enjoy beef is with a good steak. A 3oz portion of lean beef contains 22 grams of protein. Choosing cuts of grass-fed beef over grain-fed beef is important because Grain-fed protein sources are going to increase inflammation because of the omega-6 fatty acids in them. If you’re increasing your protein for weight-loss, inflammation can lead to more belly fat, which defeats the purpose.
Quinoa is a seed/grain and a popular superfood. One cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein. It’s also considered an ancient grain.Quinoa has numerous health benefits and high in many vitamins, minerals and fiber, and is loaded with antioxidants. There are many ways to enjoy quinoa, my favorite is as a meat replacement in enchiladas.
Despite having “wheat” in the name, buckwheat is gluten-free. Buckwheat is full of protein, packing in 12 grams per 1/2 cup serving. It also has 9 grams of fiber, which makes it a win!
Quinoa isn’t the only ancient grain with a high-protein punch. Amaranth has 9 grams of protein per cup. You can cook it the same exact way you would quinoa, so it’s a great swap with a little extra protein and different flavor.
Tuna is both fat and calories with 25 grams of protein and only 150 calories in a three-ounce serving. Tuna is also very high in various nutrients and contains a decent amount of omega-3 fats. Tuna can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, including tuna salad or these tuna puffs that are perfect for a lunchbox!
12. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is easy to cook and can taste delicious. It’s one of the most popular protein-rich foods with 53 grams in 1 roasted chicken breast. It can be prepared in a variety of ways to suit all taste buds, like chicken tortilla soup.
13. Turkey Breast
Similar to chicken breast, turkey breast is is similar to chicken breast in many ways. Mostly of protein, a 3oz serving has 24 grams of protein, with very little fat and calories. In addition to tasting delicious, turkey breast is high in various vitamins and minerals. Enjoy your leftover Thanksgiving turkey in this turkey pot pie soup!
14. Pork Tenderloin
Bacon is still on the not every day list but pork loin is high in protein. A three- to six-ounce portion will get you 23 to 30 grams of protein). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says it’s as lean as a skinless chicken breasts with just 3 grams of fat per 6 ounces, and it’s a solid source of thiamin, phosphorous, and vitamin B-6. Enjoy pork loin with roasted vegetables.
Organic wild fish is one of the best protein choices. A 5 ounce portion of salmon has 39 grams of protein. Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower the risk of coronary heart disease, keep your LDL cholesterol levels normal and reduce inflammation. It’s worth getting wild salmon instead of farmed fish. There are so many ways to enjoy salmon. Try this Herb and Brown Sugar Salmon or Blackened Lemon Pepper Salmon if your looking for salmon recipes.
Shrimp is low in calories, but incredibly high in various nutrients, including selenium and vitamin B12. Shrimp has 18 grams of protein in a 3 oz serving. Like fish, shrimp also contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. You can prepare shrimp many ways, but I love grilled shrimp.
Lentils are a type of legume and a great plant based protein. High in fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, copper, manganese and various other nutrients lentils are an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans. 1 cup of boiled lentils has 18 grams of proteins. Lentils are a great addition to your favorite recipes, like lentil tacos.
18. Chick Peas (Garbonzo Beans)
How I love the mighty chick pea! One cup of garbanzo beans equals a third of your daily protein recommendation! That same cup has 19 grams of fiber. Research also shows that adding legumes like chickpeans into a low-calorie diet have helped people lost about 50 percent more weight than those who didn’t because of all the slow-to-digest, plant-based fiber they contain.
19. Hemp Seeds
Add 10 grams of protein and some extra crunch to your salad with just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds.Yu can enjoy them raw, or toast on the stove to give them a nutty punch.
20. Chia Seeds
One of the best things about chia seeds is you can add this superfood to just about anything. The benefits of chia go beyond the 7 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber found in two tablespoons. Fiber is important because it helps with portion control and you absorbing your food more slowly. Chia seeds are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3s and minerals that maintain bone health (think manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous.
21. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds have protein and are high in many nutrients, including iron, magnesium and zinc. Enjoy one ounce of pumpkin seeds for 5 grams of protein. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a great way to enjoy them!
Peanuts are incredibly delicious and high in protein. They also have fiber and magnesium. One ounce of peanuts has about 7 of grams of protein. They are tasty sprinkled on salads, by the handful or in a dairy free peanut smoothie.
Want to get a jump start in the morning? Spread the recommended two tablespoon serving size of peanut butter for 9 grams of protein. Peanut butter great for its ability to moderate glucose levels and control blood sugar spikes.
One-half cup of beans contains as much protein as an ounce of broiled steak. A single cup of black beans contains nearly 40 grams of protein. It’s easy to add black beans into your favorite Mexican dishes, a veggie burger patty or bean chili.
White beans are delicious too, at 16 grams of protein per cup. White beans also contain thiamine, a vitamin that helps your body metabolize carbs more efficiently.
Whatever beans you choose, try to buy them organic, as many beans are treated with harmful herbicides.
24. Lima Beans
Lima bean contain 15 grams of protein in a cup. hen cooked properly, they are delicious. Skip the canned lima beans and roast them in the oven, add them into soups, or add them into your baked dishes.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that this fruit averages 15 grams of protein. Coconut is also high in theronine, an amino acid your body uses to prevent fat buildup in the liver and speed up recovery after a workout. In addition to fresh coconuts, it’s derivatives have benefits too. Coconut flour (4 grams of protein in two tablespoons), milk (5 grams per cup) and butter (2 grams in 2 tablespoons), which means you should find ways to fit coconuts into your recipes and diet.
26. Brussel Sprouts
The Brussels sprout is related to broccoli and is another high-protein vegetable. Brussel Sprouts are very high in fiber, vitamin C and other nutrients. A cup of Brussel sprout has 4 grams of protein.
Avocados are a pretty good source of protein at about 5 grams per fruit. Not only that, they are loaded with omega-3s and beta-carotene, which helps boost your immune system. In addition, the monounsaturated fatty acids found in avocados has been directly linked to eating less and feeling satisfied longer, and even helps fight inflammation. So keep enjoying avocado toast and try this avocado soup recipe.
You may be surprised to learn that broccoli is high in protein, especially compared to most vegetables.1 cup of broccoli has3 grams of protein. Broccoli has vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and potassium. Broccoli is also high in various bioactive nutrients that is believed to help protect against cancer. Try this slow cooker beef and broccoli for a great protein boost. Another way to enjoy this protein rich vegetable is broccoli stir fry.
Did you know corn has 16 grams of protein a cup? Corn is a source of protein that you can eat year-round. Eat it right off the cob or add it into your tacos, salads or casseroles.
Not only is Asparagus 3 grams of protein in a cup, but it’s also only 27 calories in that cup! There are a variety of ways to enjoy asparagus, on pizza, in sushi or by itself. I love sous vide asparagus with mint.
Don’t skip artichokes as a protein source. While the average artichoke about 5 grams of protein, it has 11 grams of fat-blasting fiber. Prebiotic fiber helps reduce inflammation, keeps gut bacteria in check, and leaves you feeling full for hours, which is a real win.
The great thing about Spinach is it’s easy to add to recipes. One cup of spinach has 1 gram of protein, so add several cups of spinach to your smoothie. In addition to protein, spinach is also high in vitamins A and C, folate, and magnesium, and contain carotenoids that protect the body against heart disease and certain cancers. These Spinach Chicken Feta Meatballs are a must try and delicious with tzatziki. Another way to enjoy spinach is Chicken Spinach Lasagna.
A a cup of peas can contain up to 10 grams of protein.This makes it an awesome plant-based protein source. Unlike other plant sources, peas also contain high levels of glutamine, an amino acid compound that helps repair your muscles after workouts, improve digestive health, and they’ve even been shown to reduce sugar and alcohol cravings. Go ahead and add a cup to your dinner plate.
34. Sun Dried Tomatoes
We already love tomatoes because they contain lycopene and other antioxidants. Evidence shows that adding heat and oil an help your body better absorb the lycopene in them. Enjoy them raw too! They can also have up to 8 grams of protein and are good source of vitamin A and E.
Edamame, which is so delicious with that sprinkling of sea salt, packs 17 grams of protein per cup. It is smart to limit your soy consumption despite the protein punch. Soybeans contain a fair amount of estrogen, which can cause unwanted side effects like bloat, headaches, and tender breasts.
What counts as an ounce-equivalent in the Protein Foods Group?
In general, 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered a 1 ounce-equivalent
How much food from the Protein Foods Group is needed daily?
The amount of protein you need to eat depends on age, sex, and level of physical activity. Be sure to check with your doctor or dietician about your specific needs.