When you think of protein, fruit doesn’t usually come to mind.
“The best sources of protein include chicken, fish, seafood, turkey, tofu, Greek yogurt, beans, lentils, cottage cheese, and eggs,” says Melissa Majumdar, MS, RD, senior bariatric dietician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Other foods that are good sources of protein include nuts and seeds, nut butter, cheese and milk, and green peas and edamame.”
Not a single fruit makes the list, and that’s because it simply doesn’t meet the requirements.
“To be considered a good source of protein, one serving should have over 6 grams of protein,” says Majumdar. “Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will offer a few grams of protein each, but they are often not complete sources of protein and provide us with more macronutrients (fat, carbohdyrates) than protein.”
Unless you’re eating pounds of it, fruit comes in well below that amount per serving. Fruit does provide some protein, but it won’t make a huge dent. Mostly, what you’re getting is carbs, says Majumdar: “On average, fruit provides about 15 grams of total carbohydrates from natural sources of sugar like fructose and glucose and fiber in a 1/2 cup serving.”
These carbohydrates help fuel your body and aid in protein synthesis. “Foods that provide carbohydrates, like many fruits, give us energy and fiber that allows our body to spare the protein for muscle growth, repair, and formation,” says Majumdar.
Still, if you can get a little bonus protein from your fruit on top of carbs, that can’t hurt, right? Keep reading to find out the six highest protein fruits.
Flickr user Scot Nelson
Protein: 1.42 grams/ 1/2 cup serving
This trendy fruit has made headlines recently as a popular meat substitute. “Jackfruit is high in vitamin B6, a nutrient required for the metabolism of protein,” says Majumdar.
Take note, though: while jackfruit is used in place of meat because of its texture, it is not a protein replacement in itself.”Rely on jackfruit for its flavor and texture, but not as a source of protein,” says Majumdar. (Check out these high-protein foods that will help you build muscle.)
Protein: 95 grams per 1/4 cup serving
These bad boys have a decent amount of protein per serving. But as you know, they’re better known for their fiber content. So you should definitely be careful with them when it comes to serving size and your digestive system. Unless you’re constipated, overdoing it on the prunes could potentially send you running to the bathroom all day.
Protein: 1.00 grams per 1/4 cup serving
A 2018 review of the nutritional value of cherries found that they are all-stars at reducing inflammation and arthritis, as well as improving quality of sleep. Plus, tart cherry juice has also been found to be an excellent relief aid for sore muscles. For an added protein punch, use fresh or dried cherries for this delicious duck recipe.
Protein: 2.11 grams per 1/2 cup serving
For fresh fruit, guava has the upper hand on protein content. It also has been found to be an excellent source of fiber and has loads of antioxidants. “Use guava to sweeten a smoothie alongside another source of protein, like protein powder, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese,” says Majumdar.
Protein: 1.1 gram per 1/4 cup
The pitted fruit is super high in potassium and vitamin A from carotenoids, which also give carrots their orange color. Apricots are also a great source of vitamin C. Try this Apricot Glaze Chicken for a sweet and savory treat.
Protein: 1.35 grams per 1/2 cup (packed)
“Raisins are a good vegetarian source of iron and provide fiber and potassium,” says Majumdar. They’ve also been found to help stave off junk food cravings. Use raisins to sweeten cereal instead of buying cereal high in sugar, or to top off peanut butter on celery or toast.
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