Protein is an essential building block of life. It is found in literally every cell of the body. Protein is an important nutrient needed for the development of bones and tissues, repair of worn-out tissues and production of antibodies to support the immune system.
Protein is essential to good health. Here are 10 options of protein-rich food sources to help you get the protein that your body requires:
Chicken breasts, turkey breasts, beef, pork and chicken thigh are all good sources of protein. For instance, one chicken breast contains 31 grams of protein per 100 grams, 22 grams in chicken thighs and 25 grams in roasted, skinless turkey breast. Meat is not just a tasty accessory to add to your food, it is nutritious and helpful in meeting up with your protein requirements.
Soybeans is another rich protein food option. It is regarded as one of the world’s healthiest foods. This plant-based protein contains all the nine essential amino acids for the body. One cup (172 grams) of boiled soybeans contains about 29 grams of protein and a 100g serving of tofu (made from soybeans) contains 8g of protein and several other nutrients.
Soybeans powder, which is quite popular among nursing mothers in Nigeria, is not the only way to enjoy this high protein food. There is soy milk (which you can make at home), tofu (which can be stir-fried, baked or grilled) and roasted soybeans, a tasty snack to enjoy.
For people who do not like meat, fish is an excellent source of protein they can turn to. Whether it is oily fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon) or non-oily fish (canned tuna and most types of fish) the great news is that all kinds of fish are high in protein. However, the quantity of protein per 100g serving varies in different types of fish. For example, tilapia (26g), salmon (27g), halibut (27g) and yellowfin tuna (30g). Fish is not only delicious but also a great protein option to include in your diet.
Apart from being a high-quality protein food, eggs are also rich in other nutrients like choline, selenium, folic acid, vitamin A, B12 and other nutrients. Eggs contain 6 grams of protein in a 100-gram serving. Eggs are versatile, as they can be boiled, scrambled and eaten as a snack. Other than that, this super nutritious food is affordable, easily accessible and portable to carry about.
For those that love seafood and always look for a way to include it in their meals, good for you! Sea foods such as shrimps, prawns, crabs, crayfish, snails, clams, lobsters, mussels and scallops are great protein food options. 85 grams of cooked shrimps boasts about 18 grams of protein and crayfish has 13.1 grams of protein in a 100-gram serving. Ensure you include various kinds of seafood in your diet to boost your protein level.
Nuts and Seeds
Groundnut/peanuts, almonds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, pistachios, millet and egusi are the various nuts and seeds rich in protein and beneficial to our health. Most of these nuts are quite tasty and can be enjoyed as a snack.
Legumes such as chickpeas, green peas, beans, lentils, locust beans (iru) and oats are rich sources of protein. Vegetarians and vegans often rely on these legumes for protein, but they should not be the only ones doing so. One protein fact about beans is that the older, larger and more mature a bean grows, the more protein it has. Mature beans have 21 grams of protein per 100-gram serving.
This list will not be complete mentioning protein-rich vegetables. Broccoli, asparagus, green pea, okra and ewedu (jute) are protein sources that lovers of vegetables can include in their meals. Leafy greens such as spinach, ugu (fluted pumpkins), waterleaf, afang and efo (African spinach) should also feature on one’s plate.
Greek yoghurt is rich in protein, filling and great for gut health. 48 per cent of the calories in non-fat Greek yoghurt is protein and a 170-gram container has about 17 grams of protein. In enjoying your creamy Greek yoghurt, ensure you reach for unsweetened ones and always read the label on the container as this varies from brand to brand
Cheese, a dairy product from milk is another protein food we should not snooze on. There are various kinds of cheese but some are healthier than others. These include cottage cheese, parmesan cheese and feta. Cheese can be enjoyed with salad or as a dessert.
Protein food options are all around you. So, when next you take a trip to the supermarket or the local markets, make a list to include these protein foods in your shopping carts, or bags, and if you have a garden at home or a piece of farmland, ensure you grow protein-rich crops. Be protein self-sufficient!