Proteins are important nutrient components that are made of essential and non-essential amino acids which provide energy to the body. Protein controls many important metabolism functions in the body and is a fundamental component of all living cells.
Proteins are essential building blocks that contribute to the growth and development of muscles, bones, ligaments and tissue. It also helps to fight infections by boosting the immune system. It is also required to maintain bodily functions such as digestion, metabolism and circulation. Our body needs these macronutrients to produce enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. Haemoglobin protein helps in the supply of oxygen to every part of the body.
Protein deficiency can lead to loss of muscle tissues, a weak heart, weak immunity and even death in extreme cases.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.8 gram per kilogram for adults. Pregnant and lactating women require 70 grams of protein per day. Active and elderly people require more than the RDA for adults i.e. more than 0.8 grams per kilogram.
Sources of protein rich food:
Our body gets proteins from food we eat. There are a number of food sources that provide proteins in ample amounts. These choices include meats, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
- Animal sources and dairy products have the highest amount of proteins. They contain all the essential amino acids required to make new proteins in the body. Animal proteins include meat, eggs, poultry, sea food and dairy products. Dairy products which contain proteins include milk, cheese, paneer and yoghurt.
- Vegetables, fruits and legumes are other sources of protein. They are not a perfect source of protein as they lack in one or more amino acids that are needed for the creation of proteins.
- Nutrients present in fruits are essential for maintaining healthy skin and hair. You can consume fruit in its raw form or can create a variety of preparations like fruit salads, concoction of juices, smoothies, milk shakes and so on. Apart from high levels of protein, fruits are also low in fats and high in fibre which will keep you full for a longer period of time and prevents bloating.
- Supplement proteins are available in the form of protein powder, protein shakes, protein bars and so on. These supplements are taken by body builders to build body mass by burning body fats during exercises.
Meat contains a significant amount of proteins. White or poultry meats are healthier than red meats because of its high content of lean proteins. Chicken is one of the most nutritious and versatile meats. Four ounces of chicken contains 32 grams of protein with very low fat and cholesterol. Chicken is best nutritionally when boiled, roasted and baked. Dark meat though good in proteins, contains a high amount of fats and can also raise cholesterol levels. 58 grams of Chicken breasts contains 17 grams protein and 37 gram chicken thigh contains 9 grams of protein. For a high amount of protein, pick the lean meats or go for poultry or fish. Try and avoid frying meats like bacon, hot dog or deep fried chicken as frying removes the protein content. Meat from organs like liver or kidney contains too much sodium and fats which outweigh the benefit of the high protein foods.
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2. Beans/ Legumes:
Beans and legumes are one of the best options when it comes to protein rich foods and are considered the best protein source for vegetarians. Legumes include peas, lentils and beans like Pinto, garbanzo, white, kidney and soy beans, are all packed with protein. Beans are also loaded with dietary fibre and 8 essential amino acids. Beans contain an approximate 9 mg of protein per gram, and some varieties also contain 12g per 100 grams. Black beans contain 7.5 grams of protein and is extremely low in fat with just 1 gram of fats. Soy bean is a nice addition to lunch and salads and contain more than 11 grams of protein. Chickpeas contain 16 grams of protein per 100 grams. This is one of the best sources of proteins for vegetarians. Kidney beans provide7.5 grams of protein per 100 grams. Like other beans, baked beans are high in protein and offer 6 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Nuts like cashew, almonds, and peanuts are again high protein food. Highest amount proteins are available in Brazil nuts. One ounce of Brazil nut is sufficient to fulfil the protein requirement for the day. Brazil nuts are rich in amino acids and omega 3 fatty acids which help in muscle development and prevent skin dryness. Almonds are nuts with a number of health benefits including a high level of protein. ¼ cup of almonds contains 8 grams of protein. Almonds have low fat content and are a great source of protein rich food for vegetarians. Peanuts are a high source of protein as well with 8 grams of protein. Peanut butter is also a good source of proteins and provides us with 8 grams of protein per 30 grams. The only downside with protein is that it is high in fats, so add to your diet in moderation.
4. Dairy products:
Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cream and cheese are important sources of protein. They also provide with essential minerals and vitamins. Calcium in milk keeps the teeth and bones in a healthy condition and help to prevent osteoporosis and arthritis. Skimmed milk and low fat dairy products are an even healthier option especially for people who want to lose weight. A half cup of low fat cottage cheese or paneer contains 90 calories with 16 grams of protein. Low fat Swiss cheese contains 8 grams of proteins, parmesan cheese provides us with 10 grams protein and Romano cheese contains 9 grams protein per 100 grams.
5. Sea food:
Sea foods are a very good source of protein and are low in fats. A three ounce serving of salmon contains 20 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat. Salmon is also packed with omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids which are needed for healthy living. Tuna provides 24 grams of protein per 100 grams and cod fish provides 20 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Guavas are packed with 3 grams of proteins. Apart from protein, also contains calcium and a high amount of Vitamin C.
Avocadoes are one of the most nutritious foods and contain a high amount of protein. This fruit provides 5 grams of protein per 8 ounces. This is a great protein food for vegetarians.
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This lanky green vegetable is very versatile and can be boiled, grilled, steamed and fried. Asparagus is a nutritionally dense vegetable. A half cup of cooked asparagus contains 2 grams of proteins. So add this super veggie to your diet as early as possible.
Cauliflower contains a good 3gms of proteins per serving. Cauliflower is also a good source of Vitamin K and provides us with anti-inflammatory benefit which serves a number of bodily functions. Cauliflower is rich in fibre and is beneficial for digestive tract. Cauliflower can be made to a tasty curry or soup and can be eaten mashed or steamed dish.
Date is a sweet and delicious fruit which is grown on date palm tree. Dates are a very good source of protein and a single date contains 0.220 grams of protein. 100 grams of dates will provide you with 2.50 grams of protein. Dates contain a number of health benefits and are eaten both as soft and dried fruits.
Broccoli is low in fat, high in protein and contains essential nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C iron and dietary fibre. ½ cup of broccoli provides 2 grams of proteins. Broccolis can be prepared in a number of ways which include roasting and grilling of broccoli, adding them to salads and preparing a curry out of it.
Our diet is incomplete with Popeye’s favorite food. 1 cup of cooked and boiled spinach contains 5 grams of proteins. Spinach is also abundant in Vitamin A, Vitamin B, iron, dietary fiber and all of B complex vitamins.
13. Brussels sprouts:
Brussels sprouts come packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and proteins. 1 cup cooked and boiled Brussels sprouts comes with 4 grams of proteins. These sprouts also contain some essential organic compounds which have potent anti-cancer properties.
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14. Sweet corn:
Per serving of sweet corn contains 3mg of protein and is an excellent addition to pizza, pasta, soups and various other dishes. But sweet corn kernels are sweet and juicy and are best prepared simply with just a little butter with a dash of lime. Sweet corn is also a good source of antioxidants and contains ample amounts of Vitamin B complex like thiamine, niacin, Folate, and pantothenic acids.
15. Egg whites:
Eggs are an excellent source of proteins particularly egg whites. Egg whites are low in cholesterol and high in protein. Egg whites are also low in fat which makes it a perfect food for healthy and nutritious breakfast. One cup of egg whites contains 26 grams of protein. This will also provide you with energy and essential amino acids. Adults are advised to eat one egg daily.
These beautiful orange colour fruits are rich in fibre and beta carotene that makes them an ideal fruit for summers. 1 fresh apricot contains approximately 0.49 grams of protein. Raw apricot prepared in slices yield 2.30 grams of protein in one serving. You can have apricots fresh or dried. a matter of your choice. Apricots also contain Vitamin A which promotes good vision, antioxidants and a high content of Vitamin C.
Tangerine is related to citrus family and contains nutrients that provide a number of health benefits. Tangerines are also one of the best protein rich fruits. 1 large tangerine fruit contains 1 gram of protein. When prepared in sections, it will give 1.23 grams of protein.
Both coconut water and coconut pulp contains very high level of nutrition. Coconut water contains an array of health benefits and is highly recommended especially during summer season. Do not throw away the shell after drinking the water as the soft pulp of tender coconut is equally rich in proteins. The pulp tastes extremely delicious. You can either have it raw or add in salads. Coconut milk is also rich in proteins and healthy fats.
Bananas are one of the healthiest fruits and contain 4 grams of protein per 100 grams. Bananas are must have for breakfasts. You can eat it as a whole or make a milk shake out of it. You can also prepare curry or sabzi with raw banana and it tastes amazing. Bananas are also good for people who suffer from constipation problems. They are also rich in amino acids which can be used as a face pack to treat dry skin.
Blueberries are another high protein fruit which is also rich in vitamins and certain minerals. Blueberries are available in several forms like canned, sweetened, unsweetened, raw and syrup. Blueberries contain 0.50 grams of proteins and 1 bowl of blueberries will yield you 1.10 grams of proteins.
Tofu is a great alternative to meat and is used in a variety of Indian dishes. 140 grams of tofu contains 11 grams of proteins. Apart from proteins, tofu is also rich in magnesium, iron and other essential nutrients. Like other soy foods, tofu reduces heart diseases by lowering bad cholesterol and promotes good cholesterol.
Mangosteen is mainly used for its therapeutic qualities. This unique purple coloured fruit contains 0.5 grams of protein per 100 grams. 1 cup of mangosteen will yield 0.89 proteins. Besides, it also has a high content of vitamin A and vitamin C as well as iron, calcium and potassium. This fruit is a moderate source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamine, niacin and folates.
23. Soy milk:
Soy milk is another great option for vegetarians to get their good dose of proteins. 8 ounces of soy milk contains 7 grams of proteins. Adding this super drink to your diet will provide you with recommended daily allowance of protein needed by an individual.
Figs are a healthy source of good quality proteins and are consumed in both fresh and dried forms. A medium sized ripe fig contains 0.38 grams proteins and a 100 gram serving gives around 0.80 of proteins.
Apples can be consumed in both raw and cooked form, with or without skin and contains a range of health benefits. 2 medium sized apples give around 0.60 grams of protein. When served in slices with skin, it yields 0.30 grams of proteins.
A balanced diet includes proper portions of not just protein, but should have a perfect proportion of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates too. Include at least some of the above mentioned food in your diet which combined with other important nutrients will yield positive and healthy results.