Protein is essential in building lean muscle and keeping us from feeling hungry. How much protein we consume in a day is important (around 46 grams of protein for women and 56 grams for men), and a recent study found that where we get it is important too.
Before reading our list of protein-rich food, here's why the protein source matters: Every source contains a different set of amino acids (the building blocks of protein). There are 20 amino acids, and nine of those, called essential amino acids, can't be produced by the body; we can only get them from food. That said, it's important to eat food with essential amino acids.
Also, food has its own vitamins and minerals, along with the protein. Some of these protein-rich foods are rich in vitamin B, in iron, or nothing. And your body can only use protein when you have the needed nutrients.
So here are the healthiest (and therefore the best) protein-rich foods you should eat:
Each egg contains 6 grams of protein.
When eaten, they help form proteins and tissues in your body. This makes them have a high "biological value."
They're also rich in choline as well as vitamins B12 and D, which are critical in keeping your energy levels up and your cells functioning as they should.
2. Cottage cheese
It contains 25 grams of protein.
Cottage cheese is also rich in calcium and casein (the protein that keeps you from getting hungry and boosts your metabolism).
It contains 30 grams of protein per breast.
If you're looking into lowering your fat consumption or calorie count, eating poultry is the way to go instead of steak. Chicken has far less saturated fat than other cuts of meat.
4. Whole grains like quinoa
They contain at least 6 grams per cooked cup.
Whole grains, which we know to be complex carbs (needed for weight loss), contain more protein than carbs! Quinoa is one of the few plant-based protein sources that have all nine essential amino acids. (Is that why it's expensive?)
5. Salmon and tuna
A 3-ounce serving of salmon (that's not even half a pound yet!) contains 17 grams of protein, with 6.5 grams of unsaturated fatty acids.
A 3-ounce serving of tuna has 25 grams of protein. It's also leaner than salmon with only 5 grams of total fat, so if you want to cut more calories, you know which to pick.
Both, since they're fish, are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that promote heart health and keep your mood up.
They're rich in protein, fiber, and B vitamins.
A cup of mixed nuts has 27 grams of protein.
They're rich in unsaturated fatty acids, aka the healthy fat.
8. Leafy vegetables
A bunch of spinach (that's 340 grams) contains 10 grams of protein.
They might not contain all the amino acids you need, but if you eat them with beans you'll get the nine essential amino acids.
Source: Huffington Post
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