9 Surprising Foods Packed With Protein

When you think of protein, what usually comes to mind? For most people, it’s the idea of being in the gym, lifting weights, gaining muscle, and chugging a protein shake after.

Even though weightlifters need to be eating more than your average dose of protein, protein is beneficial for just about everyone. It’s a key nutrient and you need to make sure you’re consuming a recommended amount each day.

Listing of foods that are packed with protein are pretty easy: meat. Lots and lots of meat. Chicken, beef, turkey, and just about any other meat you can think of is full of protein.

But eating meat over and over again can easily get old. You want to vary your diet and make sure you’re eating from different food groups. Plus, it’s always a good idea to limit your red meat intake each week.

 Below, we’re going to run through some protein-filled foods that may surprise you. With these, you may get some new recipe ideas!


Sweet Potatoes

That’s right, the baked potato’s cousin who spent some time in jail is packed with plenty of protein. You’re going to get about four grams of protein per cup of sweet potatoes.

There are plenty of recipes you can add sweet potatoes to that aren’t just limited to Turkey Day dishes. Slice them and add a bit of cinnamon, substitute them for baked potatoes, or mash them up and mix them with your favorite meat.



Lentils can be a pretty boring food, but a single cup of them has as much protein as three eggs. Three eggs! That’s pretty incredible. In fact, one cup of lentils has about 18 grams of protein.

These versatile little legumes are also a fantastic source of fiber, meaning they’ll help your digestive track and keep you full. You can mix them with meat and veggies or simply sprinkle them on top of a salad.


Pumpkin Seeds

If you’re looking for something to snack on during the day, pumpkin seeds are the perfect little thing to keep with you.

One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains about six grams of protein, much more than many other traditional snacks. A pumpkin spice latte, however, does not give you the same nutritional impact.



Another snack on the list, popcorn is something that you can smell from a mile away and can instantly transport you to the movies. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of popcorn we’re talking about.

Air-popped popcorn is the best for you and contains the most protein as well as the least amount of sodium. You can add your own flavoring after you’re finished to give it a little extra taste.


Leafy Greens

Just like your mother said, you have to eat your vegetables! Leafy greens come packed with just about everything you need, being packed with fiber and protein.

You’ll find five grams of protein per cup of spinach and four grams per cup of collard greens. There are countless options with leafy greens, so go wild.



You might have heard of falafel before, but this Egyptian dish is packed with protein and has plenty of options. Some people eat it plain, others mix in sauces, while others put it in a wrap to devour.

As a heads up, it does take at least a day for proper preparation so make sure you’ve got a clear schedule before you step into the kitchen.



Just a step over from leafy greens, these tiny vegetables are packed with protein. In fact, a handful of peas is about six grams of protein making it the perfect complement to your main meal.

It also comes loaded with iron and zinc, making it a well-balanced vegetable for your diet.


Peanut Butter

Nothing is more classic than peanut butter and jelly, but you can add peanut butter to so much more. One tablespoon of the delicious spread contains about five grams of protein.

You can add it to fruits like bananas or apples, or simply on a slice of whole-wheat toast. If you’re not a fan, you can always substitute it with almond butter instead.



Quinoa, despite looking like rice, is classified as a whole grain. With eight grams of protein per cup, it can be a fantastic substitute for rice.

You can add it to veggie bowls, meat bowls, or just eat it on its own. Quinoa has become more and more popular in the past few years, making it easy to find in plenty of stores.


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Written by HealthStatus Crew
Medical Writer & Editor

HealthStatus teams with authors from organizations to share interesting ideas, products and new health information to our readers.

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