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Top 12 Natural Protein Rich Foods

Published : Dec 24, 2021 6 mins read Updated On : Mar 18, 2024

Proteins are complex structures derived from amino acids and are considered the building blocks of the human body.  They play a crucial role in numerous physiological processes, serving as enzymes, transporters, and signaling molecules. Proteins contribute to muscle development, repair, and maintenance, supporting overall body strength. They aid in immune function, helping the body defend against infections. As per Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), the daily intake of protein supplements should be at least 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight (1).

Best Natural Protein Foods

1. Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein. They contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source. One egg contains about 6-8g of protein. The egg white contains about 60% protein in an egg. The protein in eggs is easily digestible and well-absorbed by the body. Additionally, eggs provide various other essential nutrients such as vitamins (B12, B6, A, D, and E), minerals (iron, zinc), and antioxidants (2).

Incorporating eggs into your diet can contribute to muscle development, aid in weight management, and provide a range of essential nutrients, making them a nutritious and versatile food choice.

2. Brown Rice

Brown Rice is less processed than white rice and has comparatively higher nutrient value. It is left with the bran and germ. Each cup of brown rice offers 5g of protein. Along with the added benefit of high protein content it also has high amounts of manganese, which is important for bone development and muscle contraction, it also contains phenols and flavonoids that are anti-inflammatory. To enhance its protein content, you can pair brown rice with other protein-rich foods like beans, lentils, tofu, or yellow peas.

3. Yellow Pea

Yellow peas are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They are rich in protein, providing around 8-10 grams of protein per cooked half-cup serving. Yellow peas are also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins (such as folate and vitamin B6), and minerals (including iron and potassium). As a legume, yellow peas are a valuable addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet, offering a protein source comparable to some animal-based proteins.

4. Lentils

Lentils, also traditionally called dal, are popularly added to everyday meals. The protein content often varies from the type or variety of the lentil but an average 100g of lentil has 12g of protein. Lentils are an easy and inexpensive way of increasing your uptake of protein, fiber, and essential minerals.
Research indicates that individuals who incorporate lentils and other legumes into their regular diet are less likely to develop health issues such as heart disease and fatty liver disease (3).

5. Milk

The two most important types of protein found in milk are Whey and Casein. It also contains essential amino acids that qualify it to be a good source of protein. Milk is simpler, wholesome, and inexpensive and can be consumed easily. Often paneer is used as a good source of protein. 100g of paneer has about 14g of protein. It is especially high in minerals calcium and phosphorus, which help keep bones strong and healthy.

6. Oats

Oats are an excellent source of protein. On average, a half-cup of dry oats provides around 7 grams of protein. While oats are valued more for their complex carbohydrates and fiber content, they can still contribute to your overall protein intake. To enhance the protein content, you can pair oats with other protein sources like milk, yogurt, nuts, seeds, or protein powder. Oats offer additional health benefits, including being a good source of soluble fiber and various nutrients, making them a nutritious and versatile component of a balanced diet.

7. Almonds

Almonds are a rich source of protein, particularly for a plant-based option. They contain about 6 grams of protein per 28 grams. Almonds also provide healthy fats, fiber, vitamins such as vitamin E, and minerals (including magnesium and calcium). Including almonds in your diet can contribute to meeting your protein needs, especially for individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets (4)

8. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are rich in various nutrients, including about 5-7 grams of protein per 28 grams. Additionally, they provide healthy fats, fiber, vitamins (such as vitamin K and vitamin E), and minerals including magnesium, iron, and zinc. They make a convenient and tasty addition to salads, and yogurt, or can be enjoyed as a snack on their own.

9. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein. It typically contains more protein compared to regular yogurt. A standard serving of Greek yogurt of about 170 grams can provide around 15–20 grams of protein, depending on the brand and variety. Greek yogurt is also rich in probiotics, which are beneficial for gut health, and it offers additional nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, and potassium.

10. Quinoa

Quinoa is another example of natural protein food. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. One cup of cooked quinoa provides around 8 grams of protein. Quinoa is also a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, and various vitamins.

11. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is low in fat and calories yet high in protein. A one-cup or approximately 226-gram serving of low-fat cottage cheese can offer around 28 grams of protein. Cottage cheese is also rich in other essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin B.

12. Avocados

Avocados contain protein and unsaturated fat. They also contain good levels of fiber and nutrients, such as potassium. On average, a medium-sized avocado (about 200 grams) provides around 3 grams of protein. However, avocados are primarily valued for their healthy monounsaturated fats, providing a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins such as vitamin K, vitamin E, and B vitamins and minerals including potassium (5).


There are many potential sources of protein you can choose from. Many protein sources provide additional nutrients that benefit overall health and well-being. Aiming for a balanced diet with a variety of protein sources can help you maximize healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So, try and incorporate as many protein-rich foods as mentioned above and experience all the benefits they offer.


1. Which vegetables are high in protein?

Some high-protein vegetables include broccoli, spinach, peas, Brussels sprouts, kale, and edamame. While not as protein-dense as animal sources, these veggies contribute to a plant-based protein intake.

2. What are the foods highest in protein?

Foods highest in protein include meats (chicken, turkey, lean beef), fish, eggs, dairy products (Greek yogurt, cottage cheese), legumes (beans, lentils), tofu, and certain grains (quinoa).

3. Is it necessary to consume protein supplements?

In many cases, individuals can meet their protein needs through whole foods. However, protein supplements can be beneficial for those with specific dietary restrictions, intense training, or difficulty meeting protein requirements through food alone.

Attaining a daily protein intake of 100g is achievable by incorporating protein-rich foods into every meal. Options such as Greek yogurt, chicken breast, and salmon fillet are excellent choices. Plant-based alternatives like peanuts, beans, and tofu also contribute to reaching this goal.

4. Do protein-rich foods aid in weight loss?

Yes, protein-rich foods can promote weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness, reducing overall calorie intake, and preserving lean muscle mass during weight loss.

5. Is animal or plant-based protein better?

Both animal and plant-based proteins have their advantages. Animal sources provide complete proteins with essential amino acids, while plant sources offer additional fiber, vitamins, and minerals with lower saturated fat content.

Shilpa Manwani
Shilpa Manwani
Health and Nutrition

Shilpa is an expert on food science. She enjoys writing blogs that give complete information about nutrition. She is also a foodie and loves to talk about different types of food. her extensive kno... Read More

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