30.23 g / 100g
Like most seeds, pumpkin seeds are a very good source of essential nutrients including protein, with a one cup serving containing as much as a quarter of the recommended daily allowance. Pumpkin seeds can be added to homemade bread, flapjacks and granola, but are also delicious blended into a seed butter that can be enjoyed on toast.
25.8 g / 100g
You can enjoy peanuts in a nut butter form on wholemeal bread or whole as a delicious snack. Peanuts can also be added to curries and creamy pasta sauces to help boost the overall protein and mineral content. There is even a delicious peanut butter chicken recipe that will make you wonder why you have never tried this combination before.
24.63 g / 100g
Lentils are often the go-to foodstuff for vegetarians, vegans and people on tight budgets. They make a delicious bolognaise sauce that can also be turned into chilli with the addition of chillies and kidney beans. Red lentils in particular take on other flavours very well and can be added to meat-based dishes like cottage pie to help bulk out the meat content.
23.58 g / 100g
Kidney beans are an extremely frugal option for people who are trying to fulfill their daily protein requirements on a budget. A single cup of kidney beans costs pennies and will provide you with around a third of your daily allowance of protein. They make delicious bean burgers and taste great in spicy bean soups and bean chillies.
23.33 g / 100g
The level of protein available in tuna depends greatly on the species you are consuming. That said, on average, you can expect to receive roughly 40% of the recommended daily intake of protein per 85g serving. Tuna can be used as a filling for jacket potatoes, mixed into cold pasta salad or enjoyed as a steak with salad.
22.64 g / 100g
Turkey is a delicious alternative to chicken in a variety of recipes including curries, stir fries and casseroles. Turkey also pairs beautifully with ham and leek to make a tasty pie with the leftovers from a roast dinner. Being low in fat and high in other important nutrients, like protein, turkey is an excellent choice for people wishing to lose weight.
22.50 g / 100g
Chicken is often referred to as being a lean source of protein, which means that it contains high levels of protein, but low levels of fat. This makes it ideal for people who are trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight whilst building muscle. Chicken is also incredibly versatile and can be used in casseroles, salads, pies and wraps, to name but a few recipes.
21.46 g / 100g
Also known as butter beans, lima beans can be blended with numerous flavourings, like garlic, chilli and cumin, to make a delicious bean dip that is an alternative to hummus. Lima beans are also divine when cooked into vegetable pasta that is heavy on the garlic and basil, then served with cheese.
21.25 g / 100g
As you would expect from most legumes, black turtle beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein, containing nearly a third of the recommended daily allowance per one cup serving. They also have a wonderfully chewy texture that make them ideal in meals that would normally call for meat, like burritos and chilli.
21.15 g / 100g
The best way to really enjoy the flavour of almonds is to eat them as a simple snack. They can also be flaked and added to homemade granola and trail mixes, but also add a yummy marzipan flavour that can offset the savoury, spicy flavour of meaty dishes like lamb tagine or chicken curry.
20.78 g / 100g
Sunflower seeds can be blended to make an amazing nut butter that tastes wonderful on toast, especially if you use roasted seeds to really help bring out the flavour. They can also be used with other seeds to make homemade seeded bread, and are delicious in green salads and cold rice salads for a burst of flavour and crunch.
20.47 g / 100g
Also known as chickpeas, garbanzo beans are nutritious legumes that can be blended with lemon and garlic to make hummus, mashed to make falafels and added to vegetarian pastas and curries to significantly boost the nutrient and protein content of the dish. Indeed, a cup of garbanzo beans contains around one third of the recommended daily intake of protein.
20.27 g / 100g
Pistachio nuts are very popular with many people and are often enjoyed roasted and salted as a snack. However, pistachio nuts can also be used to make nut loaf, stuffing and chicken tagine. A single cup of pistachio nuts contains more than half of the recommended daily allowance of protein.
20.1 g / 100g
Also referred to as prawns, shrimp are a versatile shellfish. They can be used to fill sandwiches and wraps, or added to fish pie, carbonara sauce and paella. However you enjoy them, shrimp are worth including in the diet because they contain plenty of important nutrients, including a third of the daily allowance of protein per 85g serving.
20.08 g / 100g
Thought to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable, tilapia is fast becoming a popular fish to use in place of cod, haddock and salmon in a variety of dishes like fish pie and paella. Despite being quite small, tilapia is a surprisingly meaty fish that has an inoffensive flavour.
19.87 g / 100g
Like most beans, adzuki beans are an excellent source of protein and contain around 35% of the recommended daily allowance per one cup serving. They can be used to make a warming adzuki bean stew and also work very well with coconut in vegan-friendly curries to provide little bursts of sweetness that contrast nicely with the spices.
19.84 g / 100g
Because there are a number of varieties of salmon available, there are differing levels of protein available in this rich oily fish. On average, however, 100g of salmon of any kind will provide you with roughly 40% of the recommended daily intake of protein. Use it in fish pie, chowder or lightly steamed with a green salad and new potatoes.
19.42 g / 100g
Beef is an incredibly versatile meat. As steak, it can be diced and used in casseroles or sliced into strips for fajitas. As mince, it can be used to make bolognaise sauce, cottage pie and healthy, homemade burgers. As a roasting joint, you can have a delicious roast dinner, with leftovers sliced up for sandwiches.
18.6 g / 100g
Mackerel is an affordable oily fish that provides some excellent quantities of omega fatty acids and protein. Indeed, 100g of mackerel contains on average roughly half of your daily allowance of protein. Enjoy mackerel smoked and served with poached eggs and asparagus for breakfast, or flake it through warm rice salad.
18.29 g / 100g
Including flax seeds into the diet is as easy as adding them to homemade bread, blending into smoothies and sprinkling them on your morning porridge. It is worth incorporating them into the diet whenever possible because they are an excellent source of plant-based protein, with one cup of flax seeds containing as much as 61% of the recommended daily allowance.
18.22 g / 100g
Cashew nuts are incredibly popular in vegan circles because they can be blended to make creams, milks and cream “cheeses” that can be used in a variety of recipes. Their mild flavour also means that cashew nuts can take on flavours like chilli, garlic and honey to produce a healthier alternative to crisps.
17.73 g / 100g
It is incredibly easy to include more sesame seeds in the diet: add them to granola and trail mixes or knead them into homemade breads. Sesame seeds can also be used to coat chicken for a healthier version of chicken nuggets, or added to stir fries and salads to provide a tasty, nutritious crunch.
16.89 g / 100g
Oats are an excellent source of plant-based protein, with one cup containing over half of the daily allowance, and this is increased when you make a porridge with oats and milk for breakfast. Oats can also be used to bulk out mince dishes and to make flapjacks for a healthy snack on-the-go.
16.54 g / 100g
Chia seeds are an excellent source of essential trace minerals that the body needs to thrive, as well as dietary fibre and protein. Indeed, a 28g serving of chia seeds contains around 9% of the daily protein requirement. They can be easily incorporated in the diet by adding them to trail mixes, smoothies and homemade bread.
16.32 g / 100g
Haddock is a delicious, mild-tasting, white fish that is great in homemade fish pies and fishcakes. It can also be breaded and baked, then served with sweet potato fries for a healthy take on traditional fish and chips. A 150g fillet also contains nearly 75% of the daily allowance of protein.
15.23 g / 100g
The bitter smoky flavour of walnuts makes them a perfect accompaniment to a cheese board, especially when strong cheeses are being consumed. This same principal also means that walnuts can be used to make a delicious walnut and goat’s cheese tart, with the walnuts being used in the pastry.
14.95 g / 100g
Hazelnuts are naturally sweet, which makes them an ideal snack for people who are trying to lower their sugar intake or give it up altogether, but are suffering from cravings. They can also be blended into a delicious nut butter and are divine when chopped and added to cereals and porridge with dried fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup.
14.32 g / 100g
Brazil nuts make a delicious and wholesome snack that can help to satisfy cravings between meals, especially for people who are trying to cut down on junk food. They have a creamy texture that helps you feel satiated very quickly. Brazil nuts are also delicious when chopped and added to couscous, or used to top cereal and porridge with dried fruits.
14.12 g / 100g
Being classed as one of the few plant-based complete proteins, quinoa is a very good source of protein, containing roughly 16% of the recommended daily allowance per cup. You can use quinoa as an alternative to rice and couscous, and it is also delicious when stuffed into vegetables and roasted, or used in stir fries.
13.69 g / 100g
These edible fruits of the pine tree are quite creamy and mild in flavour, which allows them to take on stronger flavours like chilli, garlic and basil. Indeed, pine nuts tend to be used to make pesto. They are also delicious when chopped and added to creamy chicken or pasta dishes, and can be equally enjoyed as a snack.
12.56 g / 100g
Eggs are an excellent source of affordable, animal-based protein and are incredibly versatile, allowing you to whip up a healthy meal in a matter of minutes. They can be enjoyed hard-boiled as a snack, soft-boiled and served with toast, poached and scrambled. Eggs are also delicious when turned into an omelette with vegetables like mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes.
11.9 g / 100g
Mussels are an amazing source of many essential nutrients and are a frugal way to incorporate the goodness of shellfish into the diet. They can be enjoyed simply steamed and served with lemon and butter, but can also be used to make a delicious shellfish stew or seafood pasta.
11.12 g / 100g
Being low in fat and high in protein, cottage cheese is a popular food amongst those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy one because it leaves you feeling satiated without adding too many calories. It can be enjoyed with fruit, or as a healthier topping to lasagne or jacket potatoes.
10.25 g / 100g
A single cup of edamame beans can contain as much as a third of your recommended daily allowance of protein, which is unsurprising since edamame beans are immature soybeans. Roasted and flavoured with garlic or chilli, edamame can be enjoyed as a delicious snack. They can also be added to casseroles and soups.
10.19 g / 100g
Being one of the cheapest sources of protein, yogurt is often used by people who want to boost their protein levels in order to aid muscle repair after bouts of strenuous exercise. Indeed, a cup of low fat yogurt can contain as much as a third of the daily allowance of protein. Enjoy yogurt for breakfast with fruit or add it to smoothies to provide a creamy texture.
9.42 g / 100g
Corn adds a wonderful flash of colour as well as plenty of nutrients to dishes such as chilli con carne, cottage pie and bolognaise sauce. In its dried form, corn can be used to make popcorn which can be enjoyed plain or flavoured as a healthy alternative to crisps.
9.17 g / 100g
Pecans are delicious as a snack with dried fruit and other nuts, but they can also be used to make an excellent oven-fried chicken, using the pecans instead of breadcrumbs. They can be chopped into green salads to add a delightful crunch, in place of walnuts. A cup of pecans contains around 20% of the daily allowance of protein.
7.91 g / 100g
Macadamia nuts are another of the few types of nuts that are naturally sweet and, therefore, are ideal snacks for people suffering sugar cravings between meals. Being full of good fats and protein, they are also incredibly satisfying, which enables you to maintain a healthy weight. Macadamia nuts can also be chopped and added to homemade granola or crumble toppings.
7.5 g / 100g
It may come as a surprise to learn that grains like brown rice can be pretty good, reliable sources of plant-based protein. In fact, one cup of brown rice can contain, on average, around 10% of the daily requirement of protein. Because it is also higher in fibre and other essential nutrients, brown rice can be used as a healthier alternative to white rice in most recipes like curry and rice salad.
5.92 g / 100g
Spirulina is very popular with health-conscious individuals as it is packed with nutrients and protein. Dried spirulina is more potent than fresh, with a 28g serving containing as much as a third of the daily allowance of protein. It is often added to smoothies, but can also be used to make a blue milk that can be consumed as a beverage.
5.71 g / 100g
Oysters are something of a delicacy that many can only afford sporadically. That said, when you can get your hands on some, oysters are delicious grilled and served with butter, but can also be used in chowder and fish pie for a posh twist on old classics.
5.42 g / 100g
Peas are an amazing foodstuff. They appeal to children and adults alike and are a powerhouse of nutrition – which might explain why even fussy children who only eat a few vegetables, including peas,manage to stave off vitamin deficiency. Enjoy them as a side dish or added to a variety of recipes like cottage pie, soup and even bolognaise.
4.88 g / 100g
Good quality dark chocolate can have some impressive benefits to health, with it being best to consume dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa solids. Simply enjoy it as a snack, or melt it to dip fruit like strawberries and bananas. Dark chocolate can also be added to chilli con carne to provide a rich flavour.
4.28 g / 100g
Baked, slightly salted kale is fast becoming a popular, healthier alternative to crisps within many health-conscious circles. Kale can also be enjoyed steamed and served with garlic butter as a side dish to earthy-tasting meats like lamb and beef, and is great as a base to savoury green smoothies that are perfect for lunch on-the-go.
3.38 g / 100g
Brussel sprouts can be enjoyed as a side dish to a roast dinner, fried off with bacon and chestnuts or flaked into warm winter salads. This much maligned vegetable can also be roasted to encourage its sweeter side to come out and, therefore, tempt even the hardiest of Brussel sprout haters to try them.
3.33 g / 100g
There are numerous ways to include coconut in the diet and experience the wonderful benefits of doing so. In its milk form, coconut can replace dairy and other nut milks for a naturally sweet flavour. The flesh of the coconut can be used fresh or dried in fruit salads and trail mixes. Finally, the fat from the coconut can be used in place of dairy-based butters in cooking and baking.
3.27 g / 100g
The key to enjoying artichokes is learning how to cook them well. Once you can do that, there are numerous recipes that they taste simply divine in, including artichoke and broad bean risotto, ratatouille and roast vegetable salad. One average sized artichoke will also provide you with roughly 8% of the daily allowance of protein.
3.17 g / 100g
Rapini looks like miniature broccoli stalks, but is far more bitter. It works incredibly well with strong flavours like garlic, lemon and onion, as well as in strong curries like Thai green curry. It is understood that by blanching rapini in very salty water before cooking it, you can help to reduce the bitter flavour.
3.07 g / 100g
Raisins make a wonderful alternative to sweets and candy as a snack, especially for children, because their naturally sweet flavour helps to satiate sugar cravings. Raisins can be added to porridge or pancakes and served with maple syrup and nuts for a delicious start to the day; they also work very well in lamb tagine.
3.02 g / 100g
Collard greens are leafy green vegetables belonging to the brassica family that can be used in a number of recipes that call for leafy greens. They have a bitter flavour that pairs well with most meats, but they are also delicious chopped and added to garlicky pasta bakes, as well as omelettes or quiches that contain cheese.
2.86 g / 100g
Spinach makes an excellent base to green smoothies, especially when trying to get fussy children to consume them, because it is incredibly mild in flavour, yet is abundant in important vitamins and minerals. Spinach can also be chopped and added to pasta sauces, soups and curries, as well as used in place of lettuce in salad.
2.86 g / 100g
Adding mustard greens to fresh salad will provide a delightful burst of peppery flavour that works especially well with tomatoes and ham. These versatile greens can also be used in place of kale or spinach in soups, casseroles and lasagnes, and make a great alternative to basil as a base for pesto.
2.82 g / 100g
In order to preserve as many of its nutrients as possible, broccoli should ideally be lightly steamed until al dente. Broccoli is incredibly versatile, having a rather mild flavour that allows it to work well with most meats and cheeses. Indeed, a delicious way to enjoy broccoli is stirred into homemade macaroni cheese or as a side to cottage pie.
2.7 g / 100g
It is best to enjoy dandelion greens when they are as young as possible in order to avoid the overly bitter flavour they develop as they age. That said, even bitter dandelion greens can make delicious soups and taste great when fried with garlic. Young dandelion greens are ideal for making salads and also as an alternative to basil in homemade pesto.
2.58 g / 100g
Also known as rocket and being a well-known salad vegetable, arugula is often included in a variety of salads such as beetroot, arugula and goat’s cheese salad and green salad. However, arugula also works very well in recipes like frittata, quiche and pasta, as well as being delicious as a base for pesto.
2.57 g / 100g
It may not seem possible for a starchy food like potato to have any protein at all, but it does. An average sized potato can contain as much as 15% of the recommended daily allowance of protein! Potatoes are also incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed baked, roasted, mashed or chipped.
2.55 g / 100g
Surprisingly, considering it is a fruit and fruits don’t generally contain good quantities of protein, guava fruit contains a pretty decent amount of protein, roughly 8% of the recommended daily intake per cup to be precise. This fragrant fruit can be enjoyed in fruit salads, smoothies and simply as a snack on its own.
2.45 g / 100g
Sometimes referred to as “nature’s candy”, dates are incredibly sweet and have an intense burnt molasses flavour. To make a date paste that can be used instead of refined sugar, you soak the required amount of dates overnight to help them soften and then blend them in a blender with water until you achieve the desired consistency.
2.3 g / 100g
One of the best ways to enjoy the peppery, bitter flavour of watercress is by using it to make watercress soup. However, watercress can also be added to green salads and is a tasty alternative to lettuce, spinach and other leafy salad greens in wraps and sandwiches, especially when the filling contains red meat.
2.24 g / 100g
If you choose varieties of mushrooms with a very meaty texture, then they can be grated and used in place of mince in bolognaise or chilli, or even turned into homemade mushroom burgers. Mushrooms are also wonderful fried off in butter with garlic and parsley, then served on toast for a delicious start to the day.
2.2 g / 100g
Many people grill asparagus on the barbeque and serve it with lemon and butter, but for those who are feeling more adventurous, there are a number of delicious asparagus recipes available. Asparagus can be used to make an asparagus quiche, wrapped in bacon and baked to serve with soft-boiled eggs for breakfast or chopped and added to carbonara.
2.2 g / 100g
A little goes a long way where passion fruit is concerned. The seeds can be used to flavour natural yogurt for a delicious breakfast, or added to smoothies to provide an exotic flavour. Passion fruit pulp can also be boiled down to create a rich-tasting sauce that is divine poured over fruit salad or roast lamb.
2.18 g / 100g
Prunes are well known for being excellent at promoting good digestive health, so include more of them in the diet by blending them into smoothies, chopping them to serve over cereal and even reducing them into a sauce that can be used with meats like lamb and beef.
2.03 g / 100g
Fresh purslane has a delicious peppery, lemon flavour that works brilliantly with steamed fish and chicken. It can also be used in green salads and provides an interesting flavour to green smoothies. Being a good source of most vitamins and minerals, purslane also provides reliable amounts of protein when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
2 g / 100g
Chilli peppers come in a variety of colours and strengths, with very hot ones being ideal for creating vindaloo-style curries, whilst milder chilli peppers are perfect for slicing into bread dough with cheese to make a delicious tear and share bread. These wonderful vegetables also taste incredible when paired with dark chocolate because their flavours complement each other so well.
2 g / 100g
A single avocado can provide around 8% of the recommended daily allowance of protein, making it an excellent, healthier alternative to mayonnaise in sandwiches that contain drier ingredients like chicken. It is the main ingredient in guacamole, but also adds a creamy, non-dairy texture to salads, smoothies and even pasta dishes.
There are a number of different proteins that are bioavailable and that the body uses in different ways. The nine most important amino acids that are present in protein are histidine, lysine, phenylalanine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. They are important because they are considered essential for maintaining good health. These are the amino acids that the body cannot produce for itself and therefore must be obtained from dietary sources.
Proteins can be divided into three groups: globular, which work to support enzymes and antibodies; fibrous, which are found in tissue, muscles and bones; and membrane, which help support and enable signalling between cell membranes.
The main sources of complete protein in the diet, i.e. those that contain all nine essential amino acids, come from dairy, eggs and meat. However it is perfectly possible to achieve a complete protein by combining legumes with carbohydrates, such as eating bean chilli with brown rice, or spreading peanut butter on wholemeal bread.
It has long been known that protein helps to support the building of healthy muscles and numerous studies have examined this in much detail. It is often thought that people need to eat animal-based foods in order to support muscle mass, but a recent study conducted in China discovered that, in actual fact, an increase in protein from plant sources was better at preventing muscle loss than that from animal sources.
What can be concluded from the studies that have been conducted is that there needs to be a balance between protein from animal sources and protein from plant sources, with an emphasis more on plant-based protein.
Linked to increasing muscle mass is the desire to lose or maintain a healthy weight and protein is excellent at helping to support this process. A 2009 review found that protein is excellent at helping people to feel satiated, although this effect only seems to occur if they are consuming sources of complete protein.
The same review also found that protein was very beneficial in supporting bone health by increasing bone mineral density and, therefore, reducing the risks of osteoporosis and fractures.
In relation to injuries, a number of studies have found that protein is just as important as vitamin C when it comes to proper wound healing and that protein itself plays an important role in helping the body recover from a traumatic injury. This is because it helps to balance out the effects of hyper-metabolism that can occur in the body in an attempt to quickly heal said trauma.
A 2010 review of numerous studies examined the effect that dietary protein had on blood pressure. It was concluded that plant protein was especially effective in helping to reduce blood pressure, whilst animal sources of protein had less of an effect. This supports the idea that protein has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health.
It is difficult to suggest a clearly defined recommended daily intake of protein because, generally speaking, the amount of protein that people need to consume depends on a number of factors, particularly age, weight and level of activity or inactivity.
For infants under twelve months old there is simply a guideline amount that will allow them to receive an adequate intake of protein. This is roughly 10g a day for babies under six months and 14g for those between seven and twelve months.
From the age of one, the recommendations for protein vary based upon the weight of the child and from nine years old they also vary based upon gender. The following are suggestions based upon an average child: those aged between one and three years should be getting between 12g – 14g of protein a day; those between the ages of four and eight years should be getting 16g – 20g per day. Males between the ages of nine and thirteen should be getting between 31g – 40g of protein a day; females of the same age need around 24g – 35g per day.
Once we enter adulthood, our protein requirements vary depending on how active and heavy we are. The following recommendations are based upon healthy individuals who undertake moderate levels of activity. People who lead very active lives and who do a lot of exercise need more protein, whereas those who are heavier and lead more sedentary lives will need a bit less.
Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, males should be getting around 49g – 65g of protein a day; from nineteen years until they are about seventy, males need 52g – 64g per day; and those aged seventy-one and over need between 65g – 81g per day.
Females between the ages of fourteen and eighteen need 35g – 45g of protein per day; unless they are pregnant, when they need between 47g – 58g per day; or breastfeeding, when they need 51g – 63g per day. The recommended daily intake for protein for mothers between the ages of nineteen and fifty is 49g – 60g per day whilst pregnant, and then 54g – 67g if breastfeeding. All other females between the ages of nineteen and seventy years of age require 37g – 46g of protein per day, with those aged seventy-one and over needing 46g – 57g per day.
For all of these recommendations, both for children and adults, the lower level of protein is the minimum that is required to prevent a deficiency.
Most people who consume a healthy, balanced diet, and who do not suffer from other health conditions that might prevent effective protein absorption are quite unlikely to experience a deficiency in protein.
However it is important to understand that there are a number of conditions that can result from protein deficiency and not all of them are isolated to developing nations where it is difficult to consume a balanced diet.
These conditions include marasmus, common in young children and resulting in wasting of muscle and fat that makes people look thin and frail; Protein C and S Deficiency, which is a hereditary disease that affects a number of people around the world and means that blood clots more vigorously than it should; and cachexia, which causes weakening of skeletal muscles and is linked to a number of other conditions such as chronic kidney failure, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
A deficiency of protein in the body can present itself in a number of ways, with some of the early symptoms including lethargy, water retention, insomnia, constant headaches, depression and anxiety. It is important to speak to a doctor if any of these symptoms surface because protein deficiency can result in conditions that are life threatening, yet most of the time can be easily treated.
Generally speaking, the consumption of high-protein foods as part of a balanced diet has a very low risk to health and, as such, causes no concerns to health professionals. That said, it is understood that taking protein supplements can have adverse effects on health, as can consuming diets that are high in protein, but low in carbohydrates, with symptoms including muscle wastage, accumulation of urea in the kidneys in people suffering with kidney problems, and even cardiovascular disease.