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Top Foods Highest in Protein | Best High Protein Foods

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how much protein do you need?

Adults (19 years and over) need 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. For example, if you weigh 68 kg (150 lbs), then you would need about 55 g of protein per day.

Check out some of the sample meal ideas below to figure out how much protein you may be getting from some common foods.

As long as you’re getting enough calories and eating a variety of protein-containing foods, healthy adults, athletes, and vegetarians don’t usually need extra protein. Talk to a dietitian about the amount of protein that children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women need.

Making healthy protein food choices

Choose protein foods that come from plants more often. Plant-based protein foods can provide more fiber and less saturated fat than other types of protein foods. This can be beneficial for your heart health.

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Legumes such as beans, lentils, and soy foods like tofu are good sources of protein:
Did you grow up in a family where meat took center stage on the dinner plate? Try having meat-free meals more often. Many of these plant sources of protein are high in fiber and low in saturated fat, so they help you stay full and keep your heart healthy.

Try nuts and seeds:

Nuts, seeds, and butter are good sources of protein and healthy monounsaturated fats. They make great afternoon snacks and yummy additions to salad, cereal, and yogurt.

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Eat fish more often: 

Fish are a good source of protein but even more important – they are an excellent source of omega-3 fats. Regular consumption of fish with omega-3 fats can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Good choices include char, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout, salmon, and sardines. If you are choosing fish instead of other high-fat foods, this will be good for your weight and your heart. Just remember to prepare your fish in a heart-healthy way such as baking, broiling, grilling, or poaching.

Choose lean meats and skinless poultry:

When choosing beef, look for well-trimmed eye of round or sirloin, or extra lean ground beef.

Lean ham, pork tenderloin or loin chops are good pork choices.
Remove the skin from chicken or turkey, as the skin is high in saturated fat. White meat has less fat than dark meat.

Avoid drowning your meat or poultry in high-fat sauces such as cream, gravy and butter. Try marinades made with lemon, garlic, yogurt, and herbs and spices to get maximum flavor.

Cooking methods to try that require less fat: Baking, broiling, grilling, roasting and barbecuing.

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 How many proteins do vegetarians need? 

People often think that being a vegetarian or vegan means that it can be hard to get enough protein. Not true! 

There are many vegetarian sources of protein. Eggs, low-fat cheese, yogurt, and milk are good animal protein sources. 

Vegans can enjoy beans, lentils, dried peas, tofu, nuts, and seeds. Vegetables and grain products all contain small amounts of protein too.

Vegetarian diets have been linked to lower risk for obesity, heart disease and some types of cancer.

 Even if you’re not a vegetarian try having a meal centered on plant sources of protein at least once a week.

Need some ideas for getting more vegetable protein in your diet?
Start your day with a whole-grain cereal or a bowl of oatmeal. Increase the flavor with some almonds or pumpkin seeds. (1/4 cup oatmeal = 3 g protein; 1/4 cup almonds = 8 g protein )

Busy morning? Make your own protein bars the night before for a portable breakfast. (1 bar = 7 g protein)

Add chickpeas, lentils or black beans to your soup or salad at lunch. (3/4 cup black beans = 11 g protein; ¾ cup lentils = 13 g protein)

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Make a hearty bowl of lentil soup for dinner.

Cook up a big bowl of bean rich chili that’s loaded with vegetables. (1 serving = 14 g protein)

Choose whole-grain breads and crackers with sliced cheese (1 slice bread = 3 g protein; 50 g cheese = 12 g protein)

Great pre or post-exercise snacks are mini-yogurt or cottage cheese cups. (3/4 cup yogurt = 8 g protein)

Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Try peanut butter on whole-grain bread with a glass of milk or soy beverage. (2 tbsp peanut butter = 7 g protein)

Try this tofu stir-fry loaded with vegetables and flavored with sweet chili sauce. (3/4 cup tofu = 16 g protein)

Try a quinoa salad instead of pasta. Quinoa is a whole grain that is also a source of protein. (1/2 cup quinoa = 3 g protein)

First of all, “all pulses are filled with fiber,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition. “Most folks know that fiber can contribute to a healthy bowel, but it also helps balance blood sugar and cholesterol levels.”

Plus, the fibers found in pulses are known as prebiotic fibers, meaning they nourish the probiotic microbiome communities in your gut, as well.In addition to being inexpensive, sustainable, and incredibly versatile, pulses offer a variety of nutritional benefits.

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Black Lentils

“Most folks aren’t acquainted with the humble black lentil; but they are a chewy, fine addition to any meal,” says Moreno. Black lentils are rich in zinc and folate, in addition to providing 12 grams of protein per half a cup.

Another perk of black lentils: “They aren’t as mushy as other lentils,” says Moreno. Try them plain with your favorite spices, in soups, or in these Crispy Black Lentil Falafel Bites.

Green Lentils

Providing nine grams of protein per half a cup, green lentils are also rich in iron, a nutrient many women and active individuals need more of. They also pack more potassium than a banana!

“I recommend green lentils often, since many meat lovers prefer their texture over beans as a ground beef replacement,” says Jones. Next time you’re craving a burger but want to go meat-free, try making lentil patties (or these Lentil Walnut Tacos).

Split Peas

Probably the most forgotten-about of the pulses, split peas look somewhat like lentils in their raw, dried form. A double-whammy of satiating nutrition, half a cup contains eight grams of both fiber and protein, says Kelly Jones, Like green lentils, they’re also high in potassium.

Chickpeas

hummus! A pulse many of us know well, chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) pack a little less than eight grams of protein per half a cup, along with minerals like magnesium and calcium, and vitamin B6.

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Chickpeas are delicious in everything from dips to falafel to Indian-style curries. To make your own hummus, Moreno recommends blending shelled chickpeas with tahini, garlic, olive oil, and a touch of lemon and salt—it’s that simple!

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Black Beans

Rich in calcium and magnesium, as well as vitamin B6, black beans contain a little more than seven grams of protein—and eight grams of fiber—per half a cup.

Moreno’s favorite way to use black beans: BROWNIES! Instead of egg and oil, Moreno blends a can of strained, pureed black beans into dry brownie mix. “They bake just the same in the oven and come out fudgy and packed with protein,” she says.

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans provide just shy of seven grams of protein per half a cup, along with about five grams of fiber and some vitamin C, says Moreno.

“Shaped like kidneys, kidney beans are often cooked into Indian curries,” she says. (They’re also delicious in this Vegetarian Chipotle Three-Bean Chili or this One-Pot Turkey Taco Soup.)

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