12 Best Protein-Rich Foods For A Healthy Lifestyle

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Eating high-protein foods regularly helps maintain our body healthy and wards off diseases. Research has demonstrated a link between healthy protein consumption and improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure and lean body mass. Protein is necessary for the production of many things, including hair, blood and enzymes, among others.

What is protein?

Our body requires protein to function normally and to help cells grow and repair. An individual should ensure to consume an adequate amount of protein each day in the diet. Protein can be found in a wide variety of foods.

Every organ, tissue and body part require protein, including muscle, bone, skin and hair. Haemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood, and enzymes, which fuel several chemical reactions, comprise proteins. Humans are made up of at least 10,000 distinct proteins.

What happens after consuming protein?

Protein may bring to mind the images of bodybuilders working to shape the ideal muscles. But protein is much more than just a weightlifter’s best friend. 

The amino acids that make up protein, or protein itself, are necessary for various body functions, which are as follows.

  • Helps people feel fuller for longer, which may boost their efforts to lose weight.
  • Assists in the healing of injuries.
  • Boosts the ability of the immune system to function effectively.
  • Lowers the chance of developing high blood pressure.
  • Reduces the chance of sarcopenia developing (age-related loss of skeletal muscle).

How much protein is needed?

Proteins serve several purposes and also contain energy (4 Kcal/g). 

For healthy Indian adults, the recommended protein is 0.83 g/kg/day. 0.8g of protein per kilogramme of body weight per day is the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), according to ICMR-NIN, 2020.

Choosing healthy protein foods

Every diet should have protein. Many people can easily achieve their protein recommendation as protein is present in various foods. But all protein sources are not the same and are not made equal in terms of protein quantity.

Plant proteins

It is always advisable to get protein from plants as much as possible. It is advantageous for both the health and the environment to consume legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, whole grains and other plant-based sources of protein. 

To ensure that no “essential” protein components are deficient, diversify the protein sources if most of the diet is from plants. There are lots of alternatives to mix and combine in the plant kingdom.

Consider the following examples for each plant-based protein category.

  • Legumes – Lentils, beans, peas and soybeans.
  • Nuts and Seeds – Chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, squash and pumpkin seeds, walnuts and hazelnuts.
  • Whole grains – Oats, buckwheat, millet, wheat, quinoa, rice, wild rice, and
  • Others – While many fruits and vegetables include some protein, they often come in less than the protein in other plant-based diets. 

Corn, broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and artichokes are a few foods that provide more protein.

Animal proteins

  • One of the best sources of protein is usually seafood (fish, crustaceans, etc.), poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), and a variety of seafood. 
  • The best alternative is eggs. Eggs are one of the high-quality protein sources.
  • Dairy products – It’s advisable to consume dairy items in moderation. They are also (Incorporating yoghurt is a better choice than getting all the servings from milk or cheese).
  • Red meat – This includes raw beef, lamb, veal and mutton. Red meat should only be eaten in moderation. 

Avoid processed meats like cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages. Although these goods are prepared from red meat, processed meats can also include things like turkey bacon, chicken sausage and deli-sliced chicken and ham. 

Protein-rich foods

Beans

Non-cooking protein options are also equally healthy, and black beans are one on the list. Depending on the variety, these beans would provide approximately 15 grammes of protein per cup along with fibre, B vitamins, iron, folate, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc in heart-healthy plant-based proteins. They are also highly nutritious and a fantastic choice for protein without meat.

Milk

Milk doesn’t always have to be from a cow. Plant-based milk like almond and soy milk is creating trends today. 

Cow’s milk provides 8 grammes of protein for every serving (250 ml). Not to mention the nine necessary vitamins and minerals, such as calcium for bone development and vitamin D are available in milk. For vegans, soy milk has a similar amount of protein.

Dairy products are rich in calcium, which helps build bones, and are protein-rich. Due to its combination of slow- and fast-release whey and casein proteins as well as energy-replenishing carbs, chocolate milk has long been used as a post-exercise recovery drink.

If a glass of milk doesn’t appeal to one’s palate, use chocolate milk to boost the protein intake and speed up recovery after a workout. However, added sugar is not advisable.

Eggs

One large egg offers 6 g of protein. Eating eggs is an easy way to meet the protein requirement and get high-quality protein. They are delicious when scrambled, hard-boiled, or used in dishes like spinach omelettes and egg salad.

Fish and seafood

Being typically low in fat, fish and seafood are excellent sources of protein. Salmon contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce joint stiffness and inflammation.

Nuts

Almond butter on our sandwiches or the crunch of cashews in our dishes is hard to resist. In addition, these nuts provide a satisfying amount of protein, fat, and fibre. 

Nuts constitute the trifecta of a healthy diet. They are a vegan source of protein, and they give a blend of all three macronutrients, which again helps to manage blood sugar levels.

Quinoa 

Quinoa is a unique favourite high protein, gluten-free, vegetarian and low-fat food. With 8 grammes of protein per cooked cup, this grain is an excellent addition to any meal.

Lentils

Lentils are a pack providing a powerful nutritional punch containing 9 grammes of protein in a cooked 1/2-cup serving. They are also good sources of fibre, iron and potassium.

Lentils are the best source of plant-based protein. In addition to being abundant with this important macronutrient, they are also laden with antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is an underrated product. It’s a filling midday snack and a fantastic calcium source, with about 12 g of protein and 100 calories per 1/2 cup. 

Cottage cheese is a high-protein dairy product that can be used to thicken smoothies or to offer a mild flavour and creamy texture to sauces.

Boost the protein intake with cottage cheese. It goes well with fruit, but one can try it with any dish and experiment. Try adding it to low-protein items like a cottage cheese pancake or using it as a topping on avocado toast.

Chicken

Chicken breast would be first on any list of foods high in protein and low in fat. 

Bodybuilders prefer grilled chicken. With only 165 calories, a 100 g portion of boneless, skinless chicken breast provides less than 4 grammes of fat and 31 grammes of protein. 

Lean beef steak and sliced deli turkey breast are two other high-protein meat options.

Tuna

Tuna fish offers more than just omega-3 fatty acids for the heart. Twenty grammes of protein are found in a serving (85 g) of raw tuna, and 33 grammes are found in one can of cooked tuna. 

Soy

Lean protein is easily obtained from whole soy products such as edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy milk and soy nuts. Unlike most vegetarian proteins, soy is a complete protein offering all the amino acids necessary for effective body use. 

Processed soy ingredients, like those in bars and snack meals, miss out on a lot of the nutritious benefits.

Yoghurt

Choosing whole milk yoghurt as a snack instead of the low-fat varieties (generally about 4 per cent fat) is a great choice. Each meal also contains about 20 grammes of protein in addition to the appetite-controlling fat. 

Full-fat Greek yoghurt is significantly more filling than regular yoghurt as it helps control blood sugar levels. To prevent sugar spikes, stick to plain-flavoured types (one can also add natural sweeteners if needed). 

When making meal plans, keep in mind that Greek yoghurt has more protein, ordinary yoghurt has more calcium, and kefir (a fermented milk drink similar to yoghurt) has more probiotics.

Conclusion

Protein is an important micronutrient in a balanced diet. Protein, a nutrient vital for both body development and cell repair, is present in a wide range of foods. 

Protein comes from both plants and animals and is found in foods including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, legumes (beans and lentils), seeds and nuts. To prevent deficiencies and diseases, one needs to consume enough protein and meet their daily protein requirement.

FAQs

What foods are high in protein and healthy?

Eggs, tree nuts (Tree nuts include walnuts, almonds and pecans), soy, yoghurt and legumes are healthy foods rich in protein.

What are 5 examples of healthy proteins?

Eggs, nuts, lean meats, fish, dairy products and some grains are good sources of protein.

Which fruit is highest in protein?

One of the fruits that are highest in protein is guava. This tropical fruit is also rich in fibre and vitamin C.

Which vegetables are high in protein?

The following are some of the protein-rich vegetables.
 
1. Kale
2. Avocado
3. Green peas
4. Mushrooms
5. Artichokes
6. Sweet corn
7. Asparagus
8. Brussels sprouts.


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