Protein is a vital component of a healthy diet. Most of us have known this since we were kids, probably from being told that protein would make us big and strong. While there’s some debate as to who actually created the word protein (it first appeared in scientific literature in 1838), there’s no disagreement that it was derived from the Greek word “protos”—meaning “first rank or position,” in recognition of how important protein is to life.
The proteins you eat, and the proteins in your body, are all made up of small units called amino acids often called “building blocks,” because these small individual units are assembled in various ways to build proteins. There are 20 amino acids that can be strung together to make proteins—the ones you eat, and the ones that are made by your body. Just as we don’t use all 26 letters to make every word, most proteins don’t contain all 20 amino acids.
Eating the right amount and the right types of protein every day is important. If you feel tired and hungry all the time, you may not be getting enough protein. Proteins help boost energy, curb appetite and burn fat. You should be eating a minimum of 50 grams of protein every day. If you’re having trouble reaching that goal or are simply looking for ways to mix up your diet , though you may already know that fish, chicken, and lean beef are high-protein foods, the following seven ingredients are also contenders.
From antioxidants to mono-unsaturated fats, avocados are loaded with good-for-you nutrients including protein. Nature’s butter, as Dr. Oz likes to call it, contains over four grams of protein per cup. Add it to salads, sandwiches and even smoothies!
Half a cup of chickpeas contains more than seven grams of protein. Add chickpeas to a salad or curry ,purée them to make hummus or roast them for an on-the-go protein boost.
Did you know a serving of green peas contains as much protein as single serving of peanut butter? A single cup of peas contains eight grams of protein as well as nearly 100% of your daily vitamin C needs and plenty of satiating fibre.
Lentils contain 18 grams of protein per cup, which is pretty impressive. Even if you’re going for a higher protein goal, lentils are an excellent way to incorporate more protein into your diet, as one cup has the protein amount of three eggs, and they have been shown to speed fat loss due to their high fibre content.
A 4-ounce serving of cottage cheese contains a whopping 14 grams of protein. Try using it as the base for any homemade dip or spread.
Quinoa is superior to other grains when it comes to protein, with about 8 grams per cooked cup. Quinoa is also particularly great because it’s a complete protein, containing all nine amino acids that benefit your body and must come from food.
Keep a family-sized tub of yogurt in your fridge, and get a bit of protein every time you stir it into a dish. Great on its own, with fruit or granola, or stirred into soups and stews or best of all using it for a tasty fruit lassi, whizzed up fresh to start the day the right way.
The good news is, there are plenty to choose from. And they’re all delicious.
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