Protein is a vital nutrient that is necessary for cell growth and repair. Here are 13 foods that are the highest in protein, both animal-based and plant-based
Protein is a vital nutrient that forms the building blocks of the body, necessary for daily growth and repair of cells and tissues. Eating enough protein based on your age and activity level is crucial for optimal health.
Here are 13 foods that are the highest in protein, both animal-based and plant-based.
13 foods highest in protein
- Meat: Animal sources of protein such as meat and poultry are absorbed by the body better than plant-based sources of protein. Beef and chicken are highest in protein, followed by lamb, pork, turkey, duck, and fish. However, although meat is the richest source of protein, it is also high in fat content, so it’s important to limit your portions and supplement with plant sources of protein when possible.
- Eggs: Eggs, particularly egg whites, are a lean source of protein. An egg contains 6 grams of protein, and egg whites contain 26 grams per cup, less than 2 grams of carbohydrates, and a very low amount of fat.
- Milk: Milk not only provides you with high-quality protein—casein and whey—but is also a good source of calcium. One cup (approximately 244 grams) of whole milk contains 8 grams of protein. If you are lactose-intolerant, you can opt for plant milk such as soy milk, which contains 6.3 grams of protein per cup.
- Yogurt: Aside from being a good source of probiotics, one cup of Greek yogurt can contain as much as 23 grams of protein. However, look for the one that is sugar-free and is low in fat to avoid gaining weight.
- Cottage cheese: If you want to add cheese to your recipes and get the benefit of improving your protein intake, cottage cheese is the healthiest option. A half cup serving of full-fat plain cottage cheese has about 12 grams of protein and 4.5 grams of fat (1.8 grams of saturated fat).
- Edamame: Edamame is a rich source of plant protein, and the only one that is considered a complete protein. Just 1/2 cup of edamame has 8 grams of protein.
- Tofu: A 3-ounce slice of tofu gives you around 12 grams of protein, making it an excellent protein option if you are on a vegan diet.
- Peanuts: Of all nuts, peanuts are highest in protein and provide about 7 grams per ounce. Nut butters, including peanut butter, are a smart way to add protein to your diet as they are easy to add to smoothies and snacks.
- Almonds: All nuts are good sources of protein, but almonds are one of the highest in content, with 6 grams of protein per ounce.
- Chia seeds: Like soy products, chia seeds are a complete protein and provide you with 4 grams per 2 tablespoons. You can easily add chia seeds to your daily diet by sprinkling them over your smoothies, overnight oats, chia pudding, veggie burgers, and granola bars.
- Quinoa: Unlike other grains, quinoa is a complete protein and packs about 8 grams of protein in one cup as well as 5 grams of fiber. Being gluten-free, it’s a great grain substitute if you have a gluten intolerance.
- Legumes (beans and lentils): Legumes are low in calories and high in protein and fiber, keeping you full for longer. They are a great option if you want to reduce the amount of meat in your diet and not compromise on your overall protein intake, while also getting the benefit of fiber. Examples of legumes include chickpeas, lentils, beans, and green peas. Beans generally provide you with about 20 grams of protein per cup, whereas lentils are packed with 13 grams of protein per cup.
- Brussel sprouts: One cup (88 grams) of Brussel sprouts contains about 3 grams of protein. Brussels sprouts are also a good source of fiber and vitamin C.
Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2022
Milk, whole, 3.25% milkfat, without added vitamin A and vitamin D. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172217/nutrients
Peanuts, all types, raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172430/nutrients
Nuts, Almonds. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170567/nutrients