The best food sources of proteins are those that contain the full range of essential amino-acids (complete proteins) and are from animal origins: fish, seafood, meats, dairy and eggs.

Most plant food sources lack some essential amino-acids and are called incomplete proteins. Vegetarians and vegans need to vary their diet by eating a wide variety of foods to obtain the full range of amino acids. The best vegetarian protein sources are nuts, seeds, legumes and grains such as quinoa and amaranth.

Proteins have many roles in the body. Proteins:

  • Are a structural component and support all of the cells in the body. They build, maintain and replace the tissues;
  • Serve as antibodies by binding to the foreign particles such as bacteria and viruses;
  • Are used as transport mechanisms to carry small molecules through the body and within the cells;
  • Are used as signal passing messengers between cells, tissues and organs;
  • Are also enzymes which perform most of the cellular chemical reactions ;
  • Read genetic information stored in the DNA and help to create new molecules;
  • Are also used (although inefficiently) as a fuel source when the blood glucose and glycogen stores in the body runs out.

Best food sources of Protein

SourceFoodServing Protein (g)
AnimalBeef, lean3 oz (85g)27.8
AnimalCuttlefish, cooked3 oz (85g)27.6
AnimalRabbit, cooked3 oz (85g)25.8
AnimalChicken breast filet, cooked3 oz (85g)25.5
AnimalTuna, cooked3 oz (85g)25.4
AnimalOctopus, cooked3 oz (85g)25.3
AnimalTurkey, cooked3 oz (85g)25
AnimalBeef liver, cooked3 oz (85g)24.7
AnimalGoose, cooked3 oz (85g)24.7
AnimalHalibut, cooked3 oz (85g)22.7
AnimalSnapper, cooked3 oz (85g)22.4
AnimalVeal lean, cooked3 oz (85g)22.4
AnimalLamb lean, cooked3 oz (85g)21.8
AnimalClam, cooked3 oz (85g)21.7
AnimalSwordfish, cooked3 oz (85g)21.6
AnimalQuail, cooked3 oz (85g)21.3
AnimalPollock, cooked3 oz (85g)21.2
AnimalGrouper, cooked3 oz (85g)21.1
AnimalPike, cooked3 oz (85g)21
AnimalTrout, cooked3 oz (85g)20.7
AnimalFlounder, cooked3 oz (85g)20.6
AnimalHaddock, cooked3 oz (85g)20.6
AnimalMackerel, cooked3 oz (85g)20.3
AnimalPerch, cooked3 oz (85g)20.3
AnimalMussel, cooked3 oz (85g)20.2
AnimalEel, cooked3 oz (85g)20.1
AnimalDuck, cooked3 oz (85g)20
AnimalScallops, cooked3 oz (85g)19.7
AnimalHerring, cooked3 oz (85g)19.6
AnimalCarp, cooked3 oz (85g)19.5
AnimalCod, cooked3 oz (85g)19.4
AnimalSalmon, cooked3 oz (85g)18.8
AnimalPork lean, cooked3 oz (85g)18.4
AnimalShrimp, cooked3 oz (85g)17.8
AnimalLobster, cooked3 oz (85g)17.4
AnimalCrab, cooked3 oz (85g)17.2
AnimalAbalone, cooked3 oz (85g)16.7
AnimalCrayfish, cooked3 oz (85g)14.9
PlantSoybeans, cooked1/2 cup (86g)14.3
Dairy & EggsCheese ricotta, low fat1/2 cup (124g)14.1
Dairy & EggsCheese ricotta1/2 cup (124g)14
Dairy & EggsCheese2 oz (56g)14
AnimalOysters3 oysters (140g)13.2
AnimalEgg large2 large (100g)12.6
PlantLentils, cooked1/2 cup (99g)9
PlantSoy milk1 cup (250g)8.2
Dairy & EggsMilk, cow's1 cup (244g)7.9
PlantPinto beans, cooked1/2 cup (85.5g)7.7
PlantKidney beans, cooked1/2 cup (88.5g)7.7
PlantBlack beans, cooked1/2 cup (86g)7.6
PlantNavy beans, cooked1/2 cup (91g)7.5
PlantAdzuki beans, cooked1/2 cup (100g)7.5
PlantLima beans, cooked1/2 cup (94g)7.4
PlantChickpeas, cooked1/2 cup (82g)7.3
PlantPumpkin seeds1 oz (28g)6.9
PlantPeanuts1 oz (28g)6.7
Dairy & EggsYogurt low fat1/2 cup (120g)6.4
PlantPistachios1 oz (28g)6
PlantAlmonds1 oz (28g)5.9
PlantSunflower seeds1 oz (28g)5.8
PlantSpelt, cooked1/2 cup (97g)5.4
PlantFlaxseed1 oz (28g)5.1
PlantCashew nuts1 oz (28g)5.1
PlantPoppy seeds1 oz (28g)5
PlantSesame seeds1 oz (28g)5
PlantTofu1 cup (100g)4.8
PlantAmaranth, cooked1/2 cup (123g)4.7
PlantChia seeds1 oz (28g)4.4
PlantGreen peas, cooked1/2 cup (80g)4.3
PlantWalnuts1 oz (28g)4.3
PlantHazelnuts1 oz (28g)4.2
PlantQuinoa, cooked1/2 cup (92.5g)4.1
PlantBrazil nuts1 oz (28g)4
PlantPine Nuts1 oz (28g)3.8
PlantBread, mulitgrain1 slice (26g)3.5
PlantWild rice, cooked1/2 cup (82g)3.3
PlantMillet, cooked1/2 cup (87g)3.1
PlantMung bean sprouts1 cup (100g)3
PlantBuckwheat, cooked1/2 cup (84g)2.9
PlantBulgur, cooked1/2 cup (91g)2.8
PlantOats, cooked1/2 cup (117g)2.8
PlantRye1 slice (32g)2.7
PlantWhole wheat, cooked1/2 cup (50g)2.7
PlantPecans1 oz (28g)2.6
PlantSoy Yogurt1/2 cup (100g)2.6
PlantArtichokes, cooked1/2 cup (84g)2.4
PlantCoconut milk1/2 cup (120g)2.3
PlantBrown rice, cooked1/2 cup (97.5g)2.3
PlantAsparagus, cooked1/2 cup (90g)2.2
PlantMacadamia1 oz (28g)2.2
PlantCorn, cooked1/2 cup (82g)2.1
PlantWhite rice, cooked1/2 cup (79g)2.1
PlantAvocadosmall (100g)2
PlantBrussels sprouts, cooked1/2 cup (78g)2
PlantCollards, cooked1/2 cup (95g)2
PlantBroccoli florets, cooked1/2 cup (78g)1.9
PlantCoconut meat2 oz (56g)1.8
PlantBarley, cooked1/2 cup (78.5g)1.8
PlantCoconut water1 cup (240g)1.7
PlantPassionfruit4 medium (72g)1.6
For Table Legend & Data Sources Information click here.

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