12 Delicious High-Protein Foods to Eat

Health and Nutrition

Every cell in our body has protein as an indispensable constituent. Proteins have a role to play in all living cells as they participate in all metabolic activities of the cell. We can say that it is imperative that we have a good supply of dietary protein to live. 

Role of protein in our body

Protein performs innumerable functions in our body. Here are some of the major function’s proteins perform in the body (1).

  • Growth
  • Maintenance and repair of cells
  • Maintain structure of cells
  • As antibodies in immune system
  • As hormone
  • As enzymes
  • As transport components to carry vital substances

The role of proteins goes on. We can say that the body cannot function without proteins.

High protein containing foods to eat

Proteins are found in a variety of foods. In general animal foods contain higher amount of proteins.

  1. Eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein, about 13-14 %. The protein in eggs is a complete protein that is it contains all the essential amino acids. Eggs have almost no carbohydrate, if any one is looking for a low carbohydrate food.

And with egg a variety of recipes can be made and it is also an irreplaceable ingredient in several food products.

  1. Legumes

Legumes or pulses are the major source of dietary protein for many, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Pulses contain approximately 21–25% protein about double of what cereals contain (2). 

Legumes do not provide all the essential amino acids but when consumed along with cereals they provide all the essential amino acids. Cereal and pulse proteins together make complete protein.

Legumes not only provide proteins but are also good sources of carbohydrate and micronutrients such as potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and zinc (3). 

  1. Meat and chicken 

Whether it is lamb or beef or chicken, they are all good sources of complete protein. They contain all the essential amino acids therefore they are all complete protein sources. These flesh foods contain on an average 25 % protein (4).  

Those who eat foods from animal sources find it easy to meet their protein requirement. 

  1. Sea food

The protein content of different types of fish on an average 20% (4). And the protein is complete protein. Fish has absolutely no carbohydrate in case you are looking for low carb food. 

Fish are also good source of omega 3 fatty acids which exhibit several health benefits.

  1. Nuts 

 Nuts are a good source of protein and nuts such as almonds, pistachios and cashew nuts provide on an average 20 % protein. Walnuts, hazel nuts and Brazil nuts have slightly lower protein content that is around 15 % (4).

They can be incorporated into many recipes and nuts also make a good nutritious snack.

  1. Peanuts 

Peanuts provide 25 % protein which makes them a rich source of protein. Peanut butter contains about 23 % protein (4). 

Peanuts make a very nutritious snack in the form of roasted, boiled and masala peanuts. They can be made into peanut sauce to be eaten along with vegetables. Peanuts can be included in countless recipes.

  1. Soybeans

Soybeans are one of the richest plant sources when it comes to protein. They contain about 40 % protein (3).  They are also a source of complete protein, that is they supply all the essential amino acids. Soy products such as texturized vegetable protein (TVP products) are also good sources of protein.

  1. Firm tofu 

Firm tofu is a soybean product made out of soy milk. It contains 17 % protein and is a source of complete protein. That is, it supplies all the essential amino acids (4).

Tofu can be used in soups, salads and even as an alternative to paneer.

  1. Chia seeds

Chia seeds contain more protein than any cereal. That is, they contain 16 % or even little more depending on the variety. Chia seeds are one of those few plant sources which contain all the nine essential amino acids (5). 

  1. Quinoa

Quinoa has about 14 % protein which is more than any of the cereals (4). Quinoa protein quality is on par with milk protein and therefore superior to proteins from cereals such as rice and wheat (6, 7). It contains all the essential amino acids and therefore is a complete protein.

  1. Dairy products

Milk and milk products such as cheese, buttermilk, yogurt contain good quality protein. They provide all the essential amino acids.

Dairy products are good source of calcium too.

  1. Cereals 

Cereals do not contain high amounts of protein but they are complementary to the legume proteins. The essential amino acids missing in legumes are present in cereals. Cereals and legumes in combination make complete protein. That is the reason why cereal proteins play a crucial role in vegetarian diets.

And we eat cereals in substantial quantities and therefore they supply protein in a reasonably good amount.  

Final word

The above foods are good sources of protein and several delicious products can be made of these foods. They can play an important role in meeting the protein requirement.



  1. Wildman, R. (2009) The Nutritionist-Food, Nutrition, and Optimal Health, Proteins are the basis of our structure and function: 124. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. Second Edition. New York and London.
  2. Singh, N. (2017) Pulses: an overview, Journal of Food Science and Technology. Vol.54 (4).



  1. Messina, V. (2014) Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol.100 (1).



  1. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release, United States Department of Agriculture. 



  1. Ullah, R., Nadeem, M., Khalique, A., Imran, M., Mehmood, S., Javid, A. and Hussain, J. (2016) Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanicaL.): A review, J Food Sci Technol. Vol. 53(4). 



  1. Singh, S., Singh, R. and Singh, K.V. (2016) Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd), functional superfood for today’s world: A Review, World Scientific News. Vol. 58.



  1. Bastidas, G. E., Rizzolo, D. D., Roura, E., Massanés, T. and Gomis, R. (2016) Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd), from Nutritional Value to Potential Health Benefits: An Integrative Review, J Nutr Food Sci. Vol. 6 (3).


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