Protein is so essential that you simply wouldn't be able to survive without it. When you eat protein foods, your body breaks the proteins down into amino acids that help replace the proteins you use. Eating plenty of protein can aid in weight loss, too, because it helps you feel full, which can cut down on how much you eat each day. Women should aim to include 46 grams of protein in their daily diets, while men should consume 56 grams each day.
Meat and Eggs Are Top Sources
Animal foods are among your best choices when it comes to getting enough protein in your diet. A 3-ounce serving of round beef steak, for example, contains about 29 grams of protein. The same amount of pork loin has about 25 grams of protein. A 3-ounce serving of swordfish, tuna or pork spareribs each supplies about 24 grams of protein. A cup of cooked blue crab delivers 23 grams of protein, and a 3-ounce portion of lamb, ground beef or salmon each contains about 22 grams. One egg has about 6 grams of protein. Chicken, turkey, duck, fish, shrimp, lobster and mollusks all supply protein as well.
Dairy Foods Aren't Bad, Either
Dairy foods are another healthy source of protein. A cup of skim milk supplies 8.2 grams of protein, and 8 ounces of fruit-flavored yogurt has 10 grams. A cup of cottage cheese delivers an impressive 28 grams of protein. A 1-ounce serving of Swiss, mozzarella, provolone, cheddar or muenster cheese contains about 7 grams of protein. Other types of cheese, Greek yogurt and chocolate milk are all good sources of protein as well.
Legumes, Nuts and Vegetables
Nuts, seeds, legumes and certain grains are vegetarian sources of protein. A cup of white beans has 19 grams of protein, and a cup of pinto, black, kidney, navy, great Northern, lima or garbanzo beans each contains about 15 grams. An ounce of pumpkin or other squash seeds delivers about 8.5 grams of protein, and an ounce of peanuts provides 8 grams. Walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds and tofu are additional vegetarian sources of protein. With 5 grams of protein per serving, asparagus and collards contribute to your daily protein intake.
Many Grains Contain Protein, Too
Wheat flour supplies about 16 grams of protein per cup, which means that breads, muffins and other baked goods made with wheat flour will also contain protein. A cup of long-grain white rice contains 13 grams of protein, and the same amount of cooked spaghetti has about 8 grams. A slice of toasted wheat bread has about 4 grams of protein. Lesser-known grains, such as teff, which contains almost 10 grams of protein per cup, are also good sources of protein. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked wheat berries delivers 6 grams of protein, and a cup of cooked quinoa has about 8 grams of protein.