What Foods Have the Highest Quality Protein?
Approximately 20 amino acids comprise proteins. Nine of these amino acids cannot be made by the human body and are considered essential, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. High quality protein foods provide the body with these essential amino acids.
Meat, Poultry and Fish
Animal products make up the bulk of high quality proteins, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of these high quality proteins double as a source of saturated fat. To limit the intake of saturated fat in the diet, choose lean sources of animal protein. Lean animal proteins include beef round steaks, beef roasts, pork loin, ham, fish and skinless white meat poultry. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends people choose poultry and fish as their primary source of animal protein and limit their intake of red meat to 18 oz. a week. In general, a 1 oz. serving of meat, poultry or fish contains 7 g of protein.
Eggs are also a source of high quality protein. A 3 oz. egg provides 7 g of protein, according to the Center of Young Women’s Health at Children’s Hospital Boston. Unfortunately, eggs double as a source of cholesterol, and people with high cholesterol should limit their intake of egg yolks to two a week, according to MayoClinic.com.
Low-fat and fat free dairy foods over whole fat version are recommended to limit the intake of saturated fat. One cup of milk provides 8 g of protein, an 8 oz. container of yogurt provides 11 g of protein and a 1/2 cup serving of 1 percent cottage cheese provides 13 g of protein.
Soy is the only plant food providing all of the essential amino acids. In addition to being a good source of protein, soy also provides fiber and polyunsaturated fats. A 3.5 oz. serving of cooked soybeans provides 16 g of protein and a 3.5 oz. serving of cooked edamame provides 11 g of protein. Tofu is also a good source of high quality protein with 9 g in a 1/2 cup serving. Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake with 15 g of protein in a 1/2 cup serving.