What Are The Unexpectedly High-Protein Foods?

Are you looking to increase your protein intake but tired of the same old sources like chicken and eggs? If so, you’re in luck! In this article, we’ll explore some unexpectedly high-protein foods that can provide a nutritious and delicious alternative to your typical protein sources. From vegetarian options like edamame and Greek yogurt to unconventional choices like pumpkin seeds and shrimp, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the diverse range of foods that can help you meet your protein goals. So, get ready to discover some tasty and protein-packed options that you may not have considered before!

What Are the Unexpectedly High-Protein Foods?

When it comes to protein, most people tend to think of meat, poultry, and fish. However, there are many plant-based and dairy options that are surprisingly high in protein. Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or simply looking to incorporate more protein-rich foods into your diet, this article will introduce you to some unexpectedly high-protein foods that you can easily include in your meals. From beans and legumes to spirulina and seitan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the variety of options available to boost your protein intake.

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are not only a great source of dietary fiber, but they are also packed with protein. From chickpeas and lentils to black beans and kidney beans, these humble legumes provide a substantial amount of protein per serving. For example, one cup of cooked chickpeas contains approximately 15 grams of protein, while one cup of cooked lentils provides around 18 grams. You can easily incorporate beans and legumes into your diet by adding them to soups, salads, stews, or even making delicious homemade hummus.

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Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are not only a convenient and portable snack, but they are also surprisingly high in protein. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are just a few examples of protein-rich options. For instance, a quarter-cup of almonds contains about 7 grams of protein, while the same portion of chia seeds provides around 6 grams. You can enjoy nuts and seeds as a standalone snack, toss them into salads, or use them as a topping for yogurt or oatmeal to increase your protein intake throughout the day.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a popular choice among health-conscious individuals due to its high protein content. Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has approximately double the protein content. With around 20 grams of protein per cup, Greek yogurt not only provides a significant amount of protein but also serves as a good source of calcium. Enjoy it as a quick breakfast, mix it with fruits for a refreshing snack, or use it as a base for smoothies to increase your protein consumption effortlessly.


Quinoa, often considered a grain but technically a seed, is a fantastic plant-based protein source. It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. One cup of cooked quinoa offers approximately 8 grams of protein. This versatile grain can be used as a substitute for rice in various dishes or as a base for salads. Additionally, you can incorporate quinoa into baked goods or use it to make delicious homemade veggie burgers for a protein-packed meal.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a dairy product that is often overlooked when it comes to protein sources. However, it is incredibly rich in protein and low in fat. A half-cup serving of cottage cheese contains around 14 grams of protein. It is not only delicious on its own, but it can also be a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. Add some fresh fruits and a drizzle of honey for a healthy snack or use cottage cheese as a substitute for cream cheese in recipes to boost your protein intake.

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Eggs are a staple food in many households, and for good reason. They are not only affordable and easy to prepare, but they are also an excellent source of protein. With about 6 grams of protein per large egg, eggs are a nutritious option to add to your diet. Whether you prefer them scrambled, boiled, or as an ingredient in baked goods, eggs can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. One tip is to include some vegetables like spinach or bell peppers for an extra boost of nutrients.


Edamame, which are young soybeans, are a popular snack and side dish in many Asian cuisines. Not only are they delicious, but they are also high in protein. Half a cup of cooked edamame provides approximately 8 grams of protein. Edamame can be enjoyed as a standalone snack, added to stir-fries, or tossed into salads for a protein boost. They are also a great addition to sushi rolls or as a topping for grain bowls, adding both texture and flavor to your meals.


Tofu, made from soybeans, is a versatile plant-based protein option. It absorbs flavors well, making it suitable for a wide range of dishes and cuisines. Half a cup of tofu contains approximately 10 grams of protein, making it a substantial addition to your meals. You can use tofu in stir-fries, curries, soups, or even blend it into smoothies for a protein-packed drink. By experimenting with different textures and flavors, tofu can become a staple in your diet, providing both protein and a rich source of calcium.


Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that has gained popularity due to its numerous health benefits, including its high protein content. It is considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Just one tablespoon of spirulina powder offers around 4 grams of protein. While it can be an acquired taste, you can easily incorporate spirulina into your diet by adding it to smoothies, energy balls, or salad dressings. Not only will you be increasing your protein intake, but you’ll also be adding a boost of antioxidants and other essential nutrients.

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Seitan is a plant-based protein made from wheat gluten and is often used as a meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan dishes. It is known for its meat-like texture and ability to absorb flavors, making it a versatile ingredient. With approximately 25 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving, seitan is an excellent option for those looking to increase their protein intake. You can use seitan in stir-fries, sandwiches, stews, or even slice it and grill it for a delicious and protein-packed meal.

In conclusion, there are numerous unexpectedly high-protein foods available that can suit a variety of dietary preferences. From beans and legumes to nuts, seeds, and dairy products like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, the options are plentiful. Additionally, plant-based options such as quinoa, tofu, spirulina, and seitan offer protein alternatives for those following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. By incorporating these unexpectedly high-protein foods into your meals, you can boost your protein intake while enjoying a delicious and diverse range of healthy options. So, get creative and start exploring the world of protein-rich foods beyond the traditional meat and fish sources. Your body will thank you for the extra nourishment.