Macronutrients are substances that provide energy and necessary elements to repair structures and tissues, which stimulate growth as well as regulate many metabolic functions of the organism.

One of these macronutrients are proteins, substances that allow the development and evolution of our body.

In this article, we will talk about proteins, what they consist of and what are the foods that contain it the most.

What are proteins?

Proteins are complex molecules, made up of long chains of essential amino acids and constitute an important part of the structural organization of our body.

These proteins come mainly from foods of animal origin and to a lesser extent from plant origin. The human organism synthesizes proteins from the essential amino acids that it consumes through food.

Among the main functions of this macronutrient is the repair, development and strengthening of all the tissues that make up the cells of the organism.

You should know: To prevent protein deficiencies in the body, a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight is required, that is, a 70-kilo person would require 56 grams of protein per day. (1)

What are the best protein-rich foods?

As we mentioned before, protein consumption is done through food, especially those of animal origin, but there are also sources of vegetable origin. Here we list the most important sources of this macronutrient:

1. Chicken

One of the foods rich in protein is undoubtedly chicken meat. In fact, according to world statistics, chicken is the second most consumed protein worldwide.

The leanest area is the breast, with a contribution of protein of high biological value that is calculated at 20 grams per 100 grams of edible portion, representing 37% of the recommended daily intake.  (two)

Note: Chicken breast is highly recommended due to its high content of niacin, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium , important micronutrients for the body.

2. Beef

Another food of animal origin and rich in protein is beef. The veal comes from very young animals and its meat has a characteristic pinkish white color.

The protein contained in beef is of high biological value, since it has essential amino acids in amounts equivalent to human needs.   Its contribution is 20.7 grams of protein per 100 grams of edible portion. (3)

To highlight: Veal meat is ideal for diet regimens, because it provides very little fat and does not contain carbohydrates. It is also rich in phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron and niacin.

3 eggs

Chicken eggs represent one of the foods richest in protein. The amount of protein they provide per 100 grams of edible portion is 12.5 grams.

In this sense, the egg contains in a balanced way, all the amino acids for the synthesis of proteins in the organism. In addition, this food contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals in sufficient quantities to supply part of the daily nutritional needs. (4)

Important: The egg represents one of the best nutritional sources and is a food that is easily accessible to a large number of the world’s population.

4. Tuna

Tuna is one of the foods that are part of the blue fish with the highest nutritional value. Its protein contribution per 100 grams of edible portion is 23 grams, a value even higher than beef. (5)

In addition, the meat of this fish is a source of omega 3 fatty acids in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are beneficial for cardiovascular health . It also has vitamins A and D and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium and iodine.

To highlight: Protein consumption is very important in athletes, since it promotes the increase and efficiency of muscle mass.

5. Salmon

Salmon is a fish rich in very important nutrients. Its nutritional value is very similar to that of tuna and its protein content is 18.4 grams, for each edible portion of 100 grams. 

It is also an important source of phosphorus, iodine, vitamin D , vitamin E, thiamine and niacin, in addition to its valuable supply of omega 3 fatty acids important nutrients for human health. (6)

Note: The consumption of oily fish such as salmon is highly recommended in the daily diet, due to the quality of its nutrients, representing a healthy and low-calorie food.

6. Lentils

Lentils represent an important source of protein. The contribution of this macronutrient in this legume is 23.8 grams, per 100 grams of edible portion, surpassing beef. However, this plant-based protein lacks an essential amino acid, methionine.

Important: Thiamine, niacin, folates and vitamin B6 also stand out in its nutritional composition, as well as soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, essential micronutrients for health. (7)

7. Soy

Another of the legumes, with a very important content rich in vegetable proteins, is soybeans . In this sense, of vegetable foods, it constitutes one of the ones with the largest quantity of this high-quality macronutrient for human consumption, since it contains all the amino acids.

Its protein contribution is 35.9 grams for each 100-gram edible portion, representing 66.48% of the recommended daily intake , contributing enormously to strengthening the health of the human body. (8)

To highlight: Its content of polyunsaturated fatty acids is important and it is very low in cholesterol, favoring cardiovascular health.

8. Milk

Milk is a food with a high protein content. Although its contribution is modest (3.2 gr/100 gr), milk protein is of very high biological quality because it contains casein, albumin, and globulin, which are fractions of different proteins that strengthen many functions in the body.

Additionally, milk is a source of calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, among other minerals and vitamins such as A, D, E, K, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, carotenes, nicotinamide, biotin and folic acid, important micronutrients for strengthening our health. (9)

9. Yogurt

Yogurt , like milk, has a very discreet amount of protein, but of very high quality according to its origin. This food provides 3.7 grams of protein per 100 grams of edible portion, plus yogurt is also a source of probiotics , microorganisms necessary to promote intestinal health. (10)

You should know: Yogurt is also a source of minerals and vitamins such as calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D, micronutrients that are involved in bone health .

10. Almonds

From the group of nuts, almonds are another protein-rich food. Almonds stand out for the presence of vegetable fiber, helping to prevent intestinal disorders such as constipation. As for proteins, they contain 20 grams for each edible portion of 100 grams , representing 37% of the recommended daily intake for an adult (eleven)

Note: Of the nuts, almonds provide a large amount of vitamin E , a powerful micronutrient with antioxidant properties.

11. Chickpeas

Due to their high nutritional value, chickpeas represent a viable option for the daily diet and for the benefit of our health, since they contain a wide variety of important minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.

The protein intake is 19.4 grams per 100-gram edible portion, but chickpeas are deficient in methionine (essential amino acid that the body cannot synthesize and participates in the manufacture of creatine). (12)

Note: Chickpeas represent a great source of folic acid, helping the health of pregnant women.

12. Jello

Gelatin , extracted from the connective tissue of bones, skin and cartilage, is very beneficial since it mainly contains a protein called collagen , which makes up 98% of the total structure of this food. Collagen supports skin health and gives elasticity to the body’s bone structure.

Important: Neutral gelatin contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and silicon that help rebuild and strengthen the bone system, as well as an amino acid called glycine, a necessary compound for digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

Key Findings

  • Proteins are one of the most important macronutrients in food. 
  • Protein consumption should comply with the daily recommendations published by specialized international nutrition organizations.
  • Protein foods also contain other micronutrients that complement the nutritional contribution in the diet.
  • Foods high in protein include chicken, eggs, lentils , salmon, and milk.

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