When you think of protein sources, animal products come to mind first, followed by traditional vegetable protein options, like beans and lentils. There are far more protein sources than you might think from the world of plants and some excellent but overlooked sources from the animal world. Some are superfoods that provide both protein and a wealth of other nutrients.
Protein comes in many colors, even green.
Several good sources of protein are green. Green peas and leafy greens like spinach are in that group. If you have a cup of cooked spinach, you’ll be consuming 5 grams of protein as you do. Green peas have over twice that amount with 9 grams per cup. Bodybuilders and others that supplement with protein will recognize the benefits of pea protein since some protein supplements contain it. Both peas and greens provide other benefits, such as they’re high in fiber. You’ll get a variety of vitamins, including A, C, and K, plus minerals that include thiamine, folate, manganese, iron, zinc, and more.
Substitute quinoa for rice or pasta at dinner.
Quinoa is a pseudocereal, although many people classify it as a grain since it’s used like grains. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 8 grams of protein. It’s one of the few plant sources of complete proteins—ones containing all the essential amino acids. It’s high in fiber, folate, vitamins E and B6, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus. It’s a good option for a gluten-free diet.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein.
Eggs don’t get nearly enough credit for their protein. There are 7 grams of protein in large eggs, which includes high amounts of leucine. Leucine aids triggering muscle protein synthesis for building new muscles. The protein is also bioavailable. That’s important. It means the body can use the protein easily, so it doesn’t become waste. They provide choline that boosts cognition, memory, and mood. They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin to benefit the eyes.
- Toss some tree nuts or seeds on your salad or add to your smoothie for an additional source of protein. Pistachios, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, and cashews can increase your protein substantially.
- Make bone broth from the bones left after you eat the meal. It’s high in protein, with 9 grams per cup, and filled with collagen to help joints, skin, muscles, and bones.
- Most people recognize chia seeds as a means of growing hair for a clay statute, but they also are loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Thicken smoothies, add them to baked goods, or make pudding.
- Sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, and edamame are good protein sources. Add them to your diet for the protein and the other nutrients they offer. You get much more protein than you might realize when you eat a healthy diet.
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