Good protein sources can be found in nearly any food group. Seafood and meat are the most common although it is important to look for lean sources of this nutrient. A variety of dairy products and eggs are considered excellent protein sources, as are nuts, beans, soy, and even certain vegetables.
Seafood is considered one of the best sources of protein as most fish are low in bad fats. Tuna is typically a relatively inexpensive option, and 8 ounces of tuna offers an average of 30 grams of protein. When using canned varieties, it is important to choose tuna that is packed in water rather than oil to limit fat intake. Other good seafood options include salmon, flounder, and cod.
Lean white meat is also a healthy option for protein sources. Skinless white meat chicken and turkey have roughly 30 grams of protein per 3-1/2 ounces and very little fat; while dark meat is also high in protein, it tends to contain unhealthy fats. Pork tenderloin is a good meat protein as well and is often leaner than poultry with the same amount of protein per serving. Lean red meats, when consumed in moderation, can also be good options for protein.
Dairy products such as low fat milk, natural cheeses, and yogurt tend to be high in whey protein, the type of protein naturally occurring in cow’s milk. This specific type of protein is often useful for those who engage in strength or resistance training because whey protein can help to repair and build muscle. Many protein supplements and powders contain whey as one of their primary protein sources.
Eggs, while relatively high in fat, contain a large amount of healthy fats in addition to being high in protein. Dietitians typically recommend that the average person consume no more than one egg a day. This amount provides a little over 12 grams of protein while still limiting unnecessary fat intake. Nuts and butters derived from nuts are also good protein sources. A handful of nearly any variety of nut works well as a protein packed snack. All natural nut butters, especially almond and peanut, without added sugar can help to add protein to a healthy meal.
Beans and soy products are considered ideal protein sources for vegetarians. Three ounces of cooked beans provides the same amount of protein as 3 ounces of lean beef. Soy products such as tofu and soy milk can also be good protein sources and are often used as a replacement for non-vegetarian ingredients. While vegetables are seldom known for their protein levels, many of the darker green vegetables suffice as protein sources. Three ounces of cooked spinach contains 5 grams of protein, while 3 ounces of cooked broccoli contains 4 grams.