10 Surprisingly High, Cheap Sources Of Protein & How to Enjoy Them

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When it comes to high-protein foods, eggs and chicken get all the attention in the world. Whereas there are tens of other foods that give us protein.

Interestingly, the best high-protein diet doesn’t come from a cage. You know you need protein for a flat belly diet: It’s a crucial building block for lean muscle, which in turn burns fat. But you probably don’t realise how many different foods will give you a serious amount, including fruits and veggies.

Perhaps you are well up on the fact that protein is the building block for bones, skin, cartilage, and muscles. So it’s critical for muscle growth and development. It’s also necessary for repairing tissues, keeping cells healthy, helping to form new cells and for making antibodies to fight off illnesses.

Importantly, protein is also essential for hormone regulation and for creating digestive enzymes. Red blood cells use protein to carry oxygen throughout your body. You can also  boost metabolism with these unexpected foods.

In fact, a number of unsung and surprising food packs almost as much or even more protein than an egg.

1. GREEN PEAS 

It’s enough to make Popeye do a spit take. Despite their wimpy reputation, a cup of green peas contains eight times the protein of a cup of spinach. And with almost 100 per cent of your daily value of Vitamin C in a single cup, they’ll help keep your immune system up to snuff.

How to enjoy them: 

Layer them into a mason jar salad or add them to an omelet to boost eggs’ satiating power.

2. GUAVA 

The highest-protein fruit, guava, packs more than 4 grams per cup, along with 9 grams of fiber and only 112 calories. With 600 per cent of your DV of Vitamin C per cup — the equivalent of more than seven medium oranges — the tropical fruit should merengue its way into your shopping cart as soon as possible.

How to enjoy them: 

The fairly complicated preparation process involves slicing and eating. You can also toss them into just about any type of salad. Slip slices into a detox water, or make homemade popsicles with a fraction of the sugar of store-bought.

3. HEMP SEEDS

I know what you’re thinking, but the answer is no because you are not getting high. Similar in taste to sunflower seeds, these nuts are derived from hemp seeds, which are also used to grow cannabis. By weight, hemp seed nuts provide more high-quality protein than even beef or fish. 

Each nut is also packed with heart-healthy alphalinoleic acid. Find them in your local health-food store or in the natural-products section of your grocery store.

How to enjoy them: 

Eat them straight from the bag, or sprinkle a handful on salads or in your morning oatmeal.

4. SHRIMP

Shellfish can also be a low-fat, high-protein option. Shrimp, for instance, has 20 grams of protein per 3 oz. cooked and only 0.3 g of fat. It’s basically pure protein and low in calories. 

The favourite shortcut is buying fresh shell-on shrimp that has already been de-veined by the grocery store. It saves a ton of time and fresh shrimp cooks quickly since you skip the defrost wait time.

5. GOAT CHEESE 

Dairy products are famously protein rich. However, this versatile cheese – dare we say the most versatile? – is truly impressive. 

You can get nearly 10 per cent of your daily protein from a 1 oz, 76-calorie serving.

How to enjoy it: 

Crumble goat cheese over a colourful salad and top it with Zero Belly Vinaigrette dressing. 

Use a watermelon or chickpea base to ratchet up the fat-burning benefits. Or combine feta with other flat-belly ingredients to make a creative healthy homemade pizza, like the arugula-and-cherry.

6. PUMPKIN SEEDS

When it comes to healthy snack foods, almonds and walnuts are always on the A-list. Notwithstanding, pumpkin seeds, a.k.a. pepitas, are an underrated winner. 

One half-cup serving has 20 per cent more protein than an egg. And it’s high in iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium,  and immune-system-boosting zinc.

How to enjoy them:

Add pumpkin seeds to salads, oats and yogurt, or grab a handful as a snack.

7. SUN-DRIED TOMATOES 

Tomatoes are packed with the antioxidant lycopene. Studies show that it can decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers, and coronary artery disease. 

Just one cup of the sun-dried version will lend you seven grams of fibre, ¾ of your RDA of potassium — which is essential for heart health and tissue repair — and 50 per cent of your RDA of vitamin C, the superstar antioxidant that prevents DNA damage. They’re also rich in vitamins A and K.

How to enjoy them: 

Use them as a pizza topping, a tangy addition to salads, or snack on them right out of the bag.

8. CHICKPEAS 

You might not think of the little beige bullets as a superfood, but it’s time to start. High in nutrients and soluble fiber, chickpeas are a prime weight-loss weapon, increasing feelings of satiety by releasing an appetite-suppressing hormone called cholecystokinin.

How to enjoy them:

Use chickpeas as a base for a salad incorporating tomatoes and feta. Blend them into homemade hummus with lemon and olive oil, or roast them (above) for a super healthy alternative to chips. 

You can also substitute chickpea flour for a portion of the regular flour you use in baking. It contains almost twice as much protein as the standard white stuff.

9. BLACKBERRIES 

The fruit with the second-highest amount of protein (behind guava) is blackberries. Its benefits are strictly front-of-the-pack. They boast phytonutrients that help blood clot and keep bones healthy, as well as the antioxidant lutein, which supports eye health. 

Plus, with eight grams of fiber per cup (almost as much as soybeans), blackberries are one of the 11 best high-fibre foods for weight loss.

How to enjoy them: 

Scarf them by the handful. Add them to whole-wheat pancakes, or sprinkle them into plain Greek yogurt for a high-protein breakfast without excess sugar.

10. GOLDENBERRIES 

As the name denotes, this God-given nature has been proven to be golden in all ramifications. These tangy, dark yellow berries are native to South America, where they’re sold fresh or made into preserves. You’re more likely to find the fruit dried and bagged.

One serving of dried goldenberries contains four grams of protein and five grams of fibre. They’re also a great source of vitamin A and disease-fighting antioxidants. 

How to enjoy them: 

Snack on the dried berries alone like you would raisins. You can also toss a handful on a salad or your breakfast cereal.

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