A list of high protein foods
Plus What Animal Protein Is Healthiest For You?
The popularity of eating less carbohydrates and more protein means many people want a list of high protein foods. This article provides is a comprehensive protein list from animal sources to support your dietary choices. Once you know what is on the list, how do you know which protein is healthiest for your body? If you do want to eat high protein foods regularly, it is vital that you choose good quality proteins. So which animal proteins are the best quality for good health?
Have a look at: Facts about protein - What is it? How much do you need? And where to get it?
For vegetarian protein choices see my article: A vegetarian list of high protein foods – and how to stay healthy eating only vegetarian protein.
A List of High Protein Foods From Animal And Seafood Sources
Note: 30 grams (one ounce) of meat or fish has approximately 7 grams of protein.
1) Red meat and pork
Animal protein is an excellent form of complete protein. ‘Complete’ means it contains all the essential proteins, which are only available to the human body through food. For optimal health many people believe that animal protein is vital.
Take note: meat is only as good as the farm it came from and the food the animal ate.
When choosing meat as a regular high protein food in your diet:
- Think quality, organic or wild free range whenever possible. These meats have more nutrients per mouthful and are less likely to contain parasites or residue of animal infections. In the US it is legal to chop a cancer tumor out of dead animal flesh and sell the rest to the public. Buying organic improves not only flavour, but also quality… no hormones or antibiotics!
- Go for grass-fed rather than grain-fed, whether organic or not. Grain-fed animals get sicker more frequently and need chemical medications, which leave residues in the fat and meat. Living in New Zealand it’s easy to get grass-fed beef and lamb… that’s how we do it here. However in the US you will need to label read and find a good supply.
- Avoid processed meats like salamis, sausages and other smoked style meats. They often contain nitrites and nitrates, which have been found to cause cancer in animals. Sausages usually contain wheat flour, increasing unnecessary carbs and gluten. Some quality sausages are available –check the label.
High protein meats include: Beef, lamb, venison, buffalo, pork
2) Chicken and turkey
Once again find organic free range products, as these contain less toxins and hormones. Who wants to eat an animal which spent a mere 6 weeks growing, sitting still in a cramped cage? Not me. I was visiting my Mum recently and she’d bought a free-range organic chicken as a treat. Usually they eat the standard ‘quick grow’ caged chicken. My Dad was concerned that the bird was uncooked, due to the pink flesh around the bones, and the thighs were almost impossible to pull away from the body. I assured him that chicken is supposed to be like that! Redder meat and strong tendons because it’s actually had some blood in it’s tissues from walking around like chickens are meant to. Plus the flavour was sensational! It’s worth the price, even if it means you save chicken for more of a special occasion dish.
Poultry options include: Chicken, turkey, pheasant, duck, and goose
Fish is healthy in many ways, especially as a source of omega oils, essential for healthy skin, joints and brain function. When choosing seafood care is needed, due to the increasing level of chemical toxins ending up in the oceans and the flesh of fish. Of particular concern are mercury and pesticide residue (including PCB’s). Many of these chemicals mimic estrogen and even in miniscule amounts, they can play havoc with our hormones and reproductive capacity.
How can you limit the risk?
Avoid larger fish like swordfish, shark and tuna. Because they are at the end of the food chain they contain larger chemical deposits.
Rotate your protein choices. This reduces contamination by chemical residues from one type of protein, e.g. mercury in fish.
When eating farmed fish make sure it’s organic and fed on good quality products.
Seafood options include: Fish, shellfish, lobster, shrimps, crab
Eggs are ‘eggcellent’ protein (about 6 grams/egg) and a source of quality monounsaturated dietary fat. Once again the only good egg is organic and free range, because eggs are only as good as the chicken that laid them. Check out my article about cholesterol and eggs.
1 ¼ cups of milk contains 10 grams of protein. As a child I drank milk raw, (from our lovely house cow), which means unpasteurized and unhomogenized. If you can only get pasteurized milk buy organic. Plus I have two suggestions to make pasteurized homogenized milk more digestible: Eat yoghurt (it has been re-enlivened with living yoghurt cultures which help digestion) or warm milk with digestive spices like cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Cottage cheese mixed with yoghurt makes it more digestable too.
Raw organic milk is much better for you than pasteurized and homogenized. Why? Homogenization breaks milk down into much smaller particles. These particles can flow into the blood stream and be absorbed intact, potentially causing lactose intolerance.
Pasteurization kills all the enzymes in milk. How is this a problem? The enzymes in raw milk aid digestion, plus special lactic acid producing bacteria protect against pathogens in the milk. If you’ve ever kept raw milk in the fridge you’ll know it keeps much longer than pasteurized milk.
There are many networks in the US and NZproviding raw milk. Ask around at you local health food stores, and do an online search in your area.
6) Protein powder
Protein powders are a processed protein option. However a protein powder smoothie is fine as an occasional snack or breakfast, or for after weight training. As always quality is the key for total health. We think whey protein is the best, rather than soy.
What should you look for in a whey protein powder:
- At least ‘ultra-filtered’. If you have lactose intolerance choose the even finer ‘micro-filtered’ as this process removes lactose.
- No artificial flavours and sweeteners
- Ideally from grass fed cows
- About 70-80% protein
Here are a few of the better options: ‘Whey Healthier’, Solgar Vanilla flavour only, Metagenics Bio Pure, and Red 8 Ultrafiltered Whey Protein Isolate
Don’t max out on protein powder smoothies just because you are busy. Get your protein from a wide variety of sources.
By now you’ve gathered that more important than a list of high protein foods is the quality of the protein itself. Think fresh, unprocessed, and organic or wild when possible. Rotate your protein choices to minimize exposure to toxins. Always ask yourself: what did this animal eat and how was it raised? That protein on your plate is only as good as the place it came from and the food it ate. Your body deserves the best to be the best it can be!