Protein is essential in building muscles, restoring and replacing tissues, and maintaining a healthy immune and hormonal system. For people who are physically active, more protein is needed in their diets. The following list contains the top foods that are the best sources of protein.
Protein-rich foods for vegetarian athletes:
1. Cowpeas and leafy tips that are cooked and drained (may be added with salt)
2. Raw and fresh egg whites
3. Cheeses such as cottage cheese, non-creamed cheese, dry cheese, and non-fat cheese
4. Dried seaweed and spirulina
5. Extra-Firm or Silken-Lite Mori-Nu Tofu
6. Soy sauce from tamari
7. Low-fat, 1% milk-fat cottage cheese
8. Lite-Firm Mori-Nu Tofu
9. Raw pumpkin leaves
10. Nuts and seeds such as cashew nuts, walnuts, and almonds
The following are the top 10 animal-based and plant-based protein foods:
1. Red meat such as beef, pork, and liver
2. White meat such as chicken and fish
3. Eggs and dairy products such as:
a. Hard cheeses including Parmesan
b. Soft cheeses such as Mozzarella, Brie, and Camembert
c. Medium cheeses such as cheddar and Swiss
e. Cottage cheese
4. Legumes – These are edible dried beans (seedpods) such as chickpeas, flagelot beans, kidney beans, split beans, haricot beans, and lentils. They are rich sources of protein.
5. Nuts and seeds – Over the years, nuts and seeds have been among the best sources of protein. Examples of nuts are almonds, cashew nuts, peanuts, and walnuts. These can be served chopped, raw, or roasted.
6. Cereals and food grains – Eating protein-rich cooked grains promotes muscle building.
7. Algae – A type of seaweed, spirulina is among the best protein-rich foods there are.
8. Fruits – With today’s technology, fruits can be eaten canned, frozen, or dried. Regardless of how they are prepared, fruits are still nutritious and included in the list of protein-rich foods.
9. Vegetables – Laden with protein, vitamins, and minerals, vegetables are known to be among the best foods for staying healthy.
10. Seitan – Seitan is a meat substitute. It is prepared from whole-wheat flour mixed with sufficient amount of water, kneaded and rinsed in water, expelling starch and bran. The protein is simmered in a soya sauce to become seitan. Seitan broth can be added as flavoring.