21 Healthy High-Protein Foods You Should Be Eating
Need more protein in your diet? It's time to look beyond the usual meaty suspects (looking at you chicken breast).
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Whether you’re trying to fit more protein into your diet or are just looking to freshen up your choices, we have top-tier, high-protein foods you should be eating.
To hit your recommended intake of protein per day (55 to 70 grams for a 150-pound person), turn to sources like beef, which provides 25 grams of protein per 3-ounce portion when cooked. Ideally, you should be seeking out cuts that are lower in fat including sirloin, tenderloin, flank steak and 90% lean ground beef.
From hummus to crunchy baked chickpeas, these beans — which contain about 12 grams of plant-based protein per cup — are certainly a legume to love. Prepare dried beans quickly and efficiently with an electric pressure cooker, or simply rinse and drain canned chickpeas.
An underappreciated legume, lentils can fortify salads, soups, casseroles and tacos with an ample dose of protein power. One cup of cooked lentils provides 18 grams of protein plus nearly 65% of your daily fiber requirement.
Tofu and Tempeh
When it comes to tofu or tempeh (which both contain about 15 grams of protein in just three ounces) you have a lot of options. These versatile, soy-based foods contain the same amino acid profile as other animal-based protein sources (think beef, poultry and fish). Smoother tofu known as 'silken' can be easily blended into sauces and smoothies. But the nuttier flavor and firmer texture of tempeh is ideal for grilling, stacking in sandwiches or sautéeing in stir-fry.
Cottage Cheese and Greek Yogurt
Dairy products like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt provide plenty of bone-building minerals and pack in the protein. With 30 grams per cup for cottage cheese and about 20 grams for Greek yogurt, they’re ideal, hunger-fighting additions to any smoothie, breakfast or snack.
Believe it or not, three tablespoons of these tiny hemp seeds (aka hemp "hearts") contain 10 grams of protein (plus plenty of minerals and omega-3 fats). Sprinkle on salads, smoothies or add to baked goods and granola.
The goodness inside these shells lives up to the hype. Scrambled, baked, hard cooked, poached and even whisked into the occasional batch of crème brulee, eggs have a lot to offer. But please don’t skip the yolks — that’s where nearly 50% of the protein is hanging out.
There’s no denying the nutritional prowess of this superfood fish. A three-ounce piece of cooked salmon contains 20 grams of protein and about 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fats. If that’s not enough to convince you, studies eating seafood regularly has been associated with heart and brain health and might even help you live longer.
This versatile, gluten-free grain can be used for anything from a cereal substitute, veggie burgers, salads and stuffed peppers. When opting for this substitute, you ensure 10 grams of protein per cup as well as a full profile of the 20 amino acids your body needs — the same as animal protein.
Boasting 15 grams per cup, black beans make your chili, soup and dips a perfect source of protein. If you choose canned beans, we recommend rinsing and draining them to reduce the sodium content by as much as 40%, or choose low-sodium or sodium-free varieties.
Each ounce of these tiny seeds offers up more than 4 grams of protein, plus almost 5,000 milligrams of inflammation fighting ALA omega-3 fats.
Sprinkle a quarter cup of crunchy pistachios on top of yogurt, salad or even a rice bowl and add 6 grams of plant-based protein and a hefty dose of vitamin B6 which helps facilitate metabolic processes body wide.
Looking for an affordable, convenient and uber high protein option? Just 3 ounces of canned tuna (which also comes in pouches!) provides about 30 grams of protein, and tuna is one of the best sources of omega-3 fats you can eat.
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Often overlooked as a stellar protein source, reach for fresh mozzarella cheese on sandwiches, salads and pizza for 15 grams of protein in a 3-ounce portion. Your bones will thank you for giving them 45% of the daily requirement of calcium.
The winning protein of weeknight dinners, the old reliable protein source is low in fat, super versatile and a fairly standard 5 ounce piece of grilled chicken gives you more than 40 grams of protein.
Not only is this buttery bean fabulous for snacking, much like tofu, this plant based protein options contains all the essential amino acids. You’ll get 10 grams of complete protein in every half cup serving you add to salads, stir fry and burritos.
These tasty seeds aren’t just for Halloween. Toss pumpkin seeds into baked goods, granola or even desserts like barks and brittle. Snack on seasoned seeds by the handful, each 1/4 cup portion boasts 9 grams of protein.
Whip up a peanut sauce or a good old PB+J — this classic butter has more protein than most other nut options. Two tablespoons provides heart healthy fats and 8 grams of protein.
This quick cooking seafood can boost the protein total in salads, pasta dishes, tacos and stir fries. Once considered taboo for high levels of cholesterol, shrimp are naturally very low in saturated fat — the real culprit for high “bad” cholesterol numbers. Three ounces of cooked shrimp will deliver 18 grams of lean protein.
Add lean cuts of pork to your weekly meal plan. In addition to nearly 20 grams of protein, a 3-ounce portion of cooked pork is an amazing source of the metabolism-driving vitamin called thiamin.