Proteins are one of the basic nutrients, along with carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, and minerals. They can be broken down and used as a source of emergency energy if carbohydrates or fats cannot meet immediate needs. The body does not use protein from food directly: after ingestion, enzymes in the digestive system break protein into smaller peptide chains and eventually into separate amino acids. These smaller constituents then go into the bloodstream, from whence they are transported to the cells. The cells incorporate the amino acids and begin building proteins from them.

The human body is capable of manufacturing 12 of the 20 amino acids it needs, but it must obtain the other eight known as essential amino acids from the diet. Most forms of animal protein, except for gelatin (made from animal bones), contain the essential amino acids, but plant proteins do not. Thus, the nonmeat varieties of protein are incomplete, and a vegetarian who does not supplement his or her diet might be in danger of not obtaining all the necessary amino acids.

RDA Protein

For a person who eats meat, it would be extremely difficult not to get enough protein. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), protein should account for 10% of total calories in the diet, and since protein contains 4 calories per 0.035 oz. (1 g), that would be about 1.76 oz. (50 g) in a diet consisting of 2,000 calories a day. A pound (0.454 kg) of steak or pork supplies about twice this much, and though very few people sit down to a meal and eat a pound of meat, it is easy to see how a meat eater would consume enough protein in a day.

For a vegetarian, meeting the protein needs may be a bit more tricky, but it can be done. By combining legumes or beans and grains, it is possible to obtain a complete protein: hence, the longstanding popularity, with meat eaters as well as vegetarians, of such combinations as beans and rice or peas and cornbread. Other excellent vegetarian combos include black beans and corn, for a Latin American touch, or the eastern Asian combination of rice and tofu, protein derived from soybeans.
Good sources of Protein are:
We have sorted our nutrition database by high protein foods. So you can easily see how much is contained in different foods. We also have a list of low protein foods. You can also search through our database using the search box below or browse the Protein content by food category.

Protein and Nutrition Facts - Top 201 Foods


a banana, an apple, an orange, a peach, apricots, butternut squash, lemon, grapes, watermelon, strawberries, green grapes, kiwi, blueberries, zucchini, figs, honeydew, eggplant, dates, olives, a pear, coconut, cranberries, pomegranate, a mango, pineapple, cherries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, tangerine, nectarines, raisins, plums, tomatoes, chili peppers, chilis, peppers, avocado, cucumber, summer squash, winter squash, papaya, prunes


leeks, turnip greens, swiss chard, mustard greens, yams, fennel, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, green beans, brussel sprouts, cabbage, sweet potato, a potato, carrots, lettuce, iceberg lettuce, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, celery, salad, mushrooms, potatoes, baked potato, onions, asparagus


salmon, cod, sardines, shrimp, tuna, fish, tuna salad, halibut, sea bass, scallops


coffee, apple juice, cranberry juice, red wine, skim milk, white wine, wine, milk, beer, alcohol, coke, soy milk, whole milk, prune juice, tea, a shake, coconut milk, orange juice, energy drinks

Nuts and Seeds

chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, nuts, almonds, sesame seeds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts

Beans and Lentils

soybeans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lentils, black beans, lima beans, navy beans, beets, beans, garbanzo beans, baked beans


beef, steak, deer, bacon, chicken, fried chicken, turkey, turkey breast, chicken breast, meatloaf, ham, lamb, sausages

Fast Foods

french fries, pizza, a slice of pizza, hot dog, hamburger, a cheeseburger, a big mac

Dairy and Cheese

ricotta, yogurt, cottage cheese, an egg, egg whites, goats cheese, cheddar, cheddar cheese, cheese, hard boiled egg, feta cheese

Bread, Rice, Grains and Pasta

rye, millet, flaxseed, barley, buckwheat, whole wheat bread, a bagel, white bread, bread, quinoa, corn, spaghetti, rice, pasta, brown rice, white rice

Spreads, Sauces and Herbs

hummus, mayonnaise, butter, peanut butter, soy sauce, thyme, basil, rosemary, pepper, coriander, dill, parsley

Sweets, Desserts and Snacks

popcorn, chips, nachos, a granola bar, saltine crackers, cheesecake, jello, ice cream, doughnuts, chocolate

Breakfast Cereal

granola, cheerios, oatmeal


spirulina, honey, sugar, brown sugar, tofu, olive oil, garlic, tempeh, oats

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Protein in foods - by food category

Protein in Baby Foods, Protein in Baked Products, Protein in Beef Products, Protein in Breakfast Cereals, Protein in Cereal Grains and Pasta, Protein in Dairy and Egg Products, protein in drinks, Protein in Ethnic Foods, Protein in Fast Foods, Protein in Fats and Oils, protein in fish, protein in fruits, Protein in Lamb, Veal, and Game Products, Protein in Legumes and Legume Products, Protein in Meals, Entrees, and Sidedishes, protein in nuts, protein in pork, Protein in Poultry Products, Protein in Sausages and Luncheon Meats, protein in snacks, Protein in Soups, Sauces, and Gravies, Protein in Spices and Herbs, protein in sweets, protein in vegetables,

Nutrition Facts

calories, fat, carbohydrate, high protein foods, high fiber foods, low carb foods, calcium, iron, magnesium, chromium, phosphorus, chloride, potassium, sodium, fluoride, iodine, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, vitamins and minerals, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6, biotin (vitamin B7), Folic Acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B12, vitamin B13, vitamin B15, vitamin B17, vitamin K, folic acid, tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, cysteine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, valine, arginine, histidine, alanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine, cholesterol, essential fatty acids, trans fat, saturated fat, recommended daily allowance