Food Rich In Protein

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Food rich in protein is essential for growth. Protein is composed of amino acids – the basic unit of which the body needs and cannot make on its own. The health benefits of protein include increased metabolism, increased muscle tissue, and improved immunity from cold viruses or other infections. Protein is great to incorporate into your diet in order to fight off these common minor illnesses that most experience during the winter. The best way to accomplish this would be through incorporating protein rich foods into your everyday routine.

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What is protein?

Protein is a nutrient your body needs to grow and repair cells, and to work properly.

Protein is found in a wide range of food and it’s important that you get enough protein in your diet every day. How much protein you need from your diet varies depending on your weight, gender, age and health.

Meeting your protein needs is easily achieved from eating a variety of foods. Protein from food comes from plant and animal sources such as:

  • meat and fish
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • seeds and nuts
  • legumes like beans and lentils.
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Proteins are made of amino acids

Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids that link together in different combinations. Your body uses them to make new proteins, such as muscle and bone, and other compounds such as enzymes and hormones. It can also use them as an energy source.

Some amino acids can be made by your body – there are 11 of these and they’re known as non-essential amino acids. There are 9 amino acids that your body cannot make, and they are known as essential amino acids. You need to include enough of these in your diet so that your body can function.

Nutritional value of protein

The nutritional value of a protein is measured by the quantity of essential amino acids it contains.

Different foods contain different amounts of essential amino acids. Generally:

  • Animal products (such as chicken, beef or fish and dairy products) have all of the essential amino acids and are known as ‘complete’ protein (or ideal or high-quality protein).
  • Soy products, quinoa and the seed of a leafy green called amaranth (consumed in Asia and the Mediterranean) also have all of the essential amino acids.
  • Plant proteins (beans, lentils, nuts and whole grains) usually lack at least one of the essential amino acids and are considered ‘incomplete’ proteins.

People following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet need to choose a variety of protein sources from a combination of plant foods every day to make sure they get an adequate mix of essential amino acids.

If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, as long as you eat a wide variety of foods, you can usually get the protein you need. For example, a meal containing cereals and legumes, such as baked beans on toast, provides all the essential amino acids found in a typical meat dish.

Protein foods

Some food sources of dietary protein include:

  • lean meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo
  • poultry – chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds
  • fish and seafood – fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams
  • eggs
  • dairy products – milk, yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt), cheese (especially cottage cheese)
  • nuts (including nut pastes) and seeds – almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
  • legumes and beans – all beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, tofu.

Some grain and cereal-based products are also sources of protein, but are generally not as high in protein as meat and meat-alternative products.

Getting more protein into your day, naturally

If you’re looking for ways to get more protein into your diet, here are some suggestions:

  • Try a peanut butter sandwich. Remember to use natural peanut butter (or any other nut paste) with no added salt, sugar or other fillers.
  • Low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese is high in protein and can go in your scrambled eggs, casserole, mashed potato or pasta dish. Or spread it on your toast in the morning.
  • Nuts and seeds are fantastic in salads, with vegetables and served on top of curries. Try toasting some pine nuts or flaked almonds and putting them in your green salad.
  • Beans are great in soups, casseroles, and pasta sauces. Try tipping a drained can of cannellini beans into your favourite vegetable soup recipe or casserole.
  • A plate of hummus and freshly cut vegetable sticks as a snack or hummus spread on your sandwich will give you easy extra protein at lunchtime.
  • Greek yoghurt is a protein rich food that you can use throughout the day. Add some on your favourite breakfast cereal, put a spoonful on top of a bowl of pumpkin soup or serve it as dessert with some fresh fruit.
  • Eggs are a versatile and easy option that can be enjoyed on their own or mixed in a variety of dishes.

19 High-Protein Plant-Based Foods and How to Eat More of Them

It’s important to include healthy sources of protein in your diet each day. Protein helps your body with a number of important functions and helps you maintain muscle mass.

When you think of protein, steak or chicken might come to mind. But if you’re not a big meat eater, you have other options to make sure you get the recommended amount of protein that your body needs.

Worry not, because there are plenty of protein-rich plant-based alternatives available year-round. Try out these options for plenty of variety. You can enjoy each of them alone as a side dish, or in different recipes for a filling main course.

Keep in mind that the protein content may change depending on how you prepare each plant-based option. The values below match the cooking method indicated for each food.

1. Edamame

Total protein: 18.46 grams per cup (prepared from frozen)

If you normally only eat edamame at your local sushi restaurant, it’s time to start enjoying it at home. It’s packed with healthy plant protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Recipes to try:

  • Spicy
    Edamame
  • Crispy
    Parmesan Garlic Edamame
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2. Lentils

Total protein: 17.86 grams per cup (boiled)

Lentils, which resemble tiny beans, are actually a pulse found in the legume family. But you won’t find a better option when it comes to an inexpensive, readily available vegetarian-friendly protein.

Bonus: Dry lentils cook up in only 15 minutes!

Recipes to try:

  • Red Lentil Taco
    Soup
  • Four
    Corners Lentil Soup

3. Pinto beans

Total protein: 15.41 grams per cup (boiled from dried)

Pinto beans are popular in Mexican cooking. They work well in burritos, as a salad topper, in soups and chilis, or just as a side. Try cooking dried pinto beans instead of using the canned type for even more health benefits.

Recipes to try:

  • Slow Cooker
    Pinto Beans
  • Pinto
    Bean Chili

4. Chickpeas

Total protein: 14.53 grams per cup (boiled from dried)

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a main ingredient in hummus. They have a subtle, nutty flavor that works well in a variety of dishes.

Enjoy snacking on roasted chickpeas or using them as a staple in curries, soups, or vegetable bowls.

Recipes to try:

  • Crispy Roasted
    Chickpeas
  • Coconut Chickpea
    Curry

5. Mung beans

Total protein: 14.18 grams per cup (boiled from dried)

Mung beans are part of the legume family and offer plenty of protein per serving. They’re also a good source of iron and fiber.

Recipes to try:

  • Mung
    Bean and Coconut Curry
  • Sprouted
    Mung Bean Burgers

6. Fava beans

Total protein: 12.92 grams per cup (boiled from dried)

In their pods, fava beans look like edamame or green beans. Try adding these nutritious legumes to stews and salads or making them into a tasty dip.

Recipes to try:

  • Buttery
    Sesame Fava Beans
  • Fava Bean Dip

7. Lima beans

Total protein: 11.58 grams per cup (boiled)

This little legume packs a nutritious punch with plenty of potassium, fiber, and iron. While some people don’t like the taste, recipes like the ones below can help with that.

Recipes to try:

  • Mediterranean
    Baked Lima Beans
  • Herbed
    Lima Bean Hummus

8. Green peas

Total protein: 8.58 grams per cup (boiled)

If you think green peas are mushy and unappetizing, you’re not alone. But they’re versatile and can be a delicious addition to many recipes.

Recipes to try:

  • Green
    Monster Veggie Burger
  • Crunchy
    Roasted Green Peas

9. Quinoa

Total protein: 8.14 grams per cup (cooked)

This popular health food is high in protein, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Quinoa cooks in just 15 minutes and is a great addition to salads, veggie burgers, pilaf, casseroles, and much more.

Recipes to try:

  • Swiss
    Chard and Quinoa Gratin
  • Avocado
    Blueberry Quinoa Salad

10. Wild rice

Total protein: 6.54 grams per cup (cooked)

Wild rice isn’t actually related to rice, but you can use it in many of the same dishes. Try this nutrient-rich grain in casseroles, soups, pilaf, stuffing, or on its own.

Recipes to try:

  • Wild Rice Pilaf
  • Creamy
    Mushroom Wild Rice

11. Pistachios

Total protein: 5.97 grams per ounce (dry roasted)

Shelling pistachios may be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort. Pistachios are not only delicious by the handful, but are versatile enough to enjoy in baked goods, on top of salads, and as a coating for fish.

Recipes to try:

  • Pistachio
    Pomegranate Granola
  • Creamy
    Pistachio Pesto Pasta

12. Almonds

Total protein: 5.94 grams per ounce (dry roasted)

Almonds are delicious and nutritious. They’re a great source of protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants. Get the most nutrients by eating almonds with the skin intact.

Recipes to try:

  • Dijon
    Almond Crusted Tilapia
  • Apple
    Arugula Almond Salad with Orange Dressing

13. Brussels sprouts

Total protein: 5.64 grams per cup (boiled from frozen)

If you hated Brussels sprouts as a kid, it might be time to try them again. They’re delicious roasted, steamed, or even shredded in a salad.

Recipes to try:

  • Roasted
    Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apples
  • Brussels
    Sprout Sweet Potato Hash

14. Chia seeds

Total protein: 4.69 grams per ounce (dried)

These tiny black seeds have earned their superfood status. Even a small amount has a ton of protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients. Chia seed pudding is a popular choice, but don’t be afraid to try out these seeds in other dishes.

Recipes to try:

  • Chocolate Chia
    Seed Pudding
  • Chia
    Crusted Salmon with Fennel and Broccoli Salad

15. Yellow sweet corn

Total protein: 4.68 grams per 1 large ear (raw)

Sweet corn is as nutritious as it is tasty. Look for fresh corn in the summertime, or use the frozen version for recipes year-round.

Recipes to try:

  • Sweet
    Corn, Zucchini, and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza
  • Sweet Corn Chowder

16. Potatoes

Total protein: 4.55 grams per 1 medium potato (baked, with skin)

The trusty spud gets a bad rap. It’s actually packed with protein and vitamins C and B-6. Try russet or red potatoes for an even greater protein boost. Extra points if you eat the skin!

Recipes to try:

  • Healthy Twice
    Baked Potatoes
  • Baked
    Potato Wedges

17. Asparagus

Total protein: 4.32 grams per cup (boiled)

Nothing says springtime like fresh asparagus. Try these yummy spears roasted, grilled, or steamed. You can even wrap them in bacon for a protein-filled treat.

Recipes to try:

  • Shrimp
    and Asparagus Stir-Fry with Lemon Sauce
  • Cheesy Garlic
    Roasted Asparagus

18. Broccoli

Total protein: 4.28 grams per 1 stalk (boiled, medium)

There’s a reason your parents always told you to eat your little green trees. In addition to protein, broccoli offers filling fiber, vitamins K and C, and more. Don’t forget to eat the stalk!

Recipes to try:

  • Magic Broccoli
  • Parmesan
    Roasted Broccoli Stalks

19. Avocado

Total protein: 4.02 grams per 1 avocado (medium)

You can do a lot more with an avocado than just make guacamole. Try it in a pudding or smoothie for a creamy, thick, and protein-filled twist.

Recipes to try:

  • Vanilla
    and Honey Avocado Pudding
  • Guacamole
    Deviled Eggs
  • Avocado Summer Rolls

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