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Top 10 Sources of Protein

author image Nancy Clarke
Nancy Clarke began writing in 1988 after achieving her Bachelor of Arts in English and has edited books on medicine, diet, senior care and other health topics. Her related affiliations include work for the American Medical Association and Oregon Health Plan.

The top food sources of protein minimize fat and maximize beneficial nutrients. Cooking these foods without fat helps you keep calorie totals in check in a good diet. To choose the best protein foods, build your daily menus toward a total of 50 g of protein and less than 65 g of fat, the average intakes recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA considers food servings with about 3 g or less of fat and 10 g or more of protein low in fat and high in protein.


Chicken represents a food source of complete protein, containing all the amino acids, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains. A half breast of chicken without skin has 27 g of protein and only 3 g of total fat. Turkey has similar nutritional values.


The USDA Nutrient Database suggests 3-oz. portions of beef due to its saturated fat content. You can factor 29 g of protein and 7 g of total fat per serving of beef round steak into a good diet.

Sockeye Salmon

The American Heart Association recommends salmon as a good food source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Three ounces of broiled or grilled salmon contains 23 g of protein and 9 g of fat.

Cottage Cheese

The American Heart Association encourages people to include low-fat or nonfat dairy products in a good diet for their calcium and protein. One cup of 2 percent reduced-fat cottage cheese has 27 g of protein and 6 g of fat.

Pork Loin

Among pork cuts, center loin chops are the leanest. According to the USDA, 3 oz. of broiled or roasted pork has 25 g of protein and 6 g of fat.

Canned Tuna

Keep canned tuna in the pantry for quick access to a complete protein food. Three ounces of tuna canned in water offers 20 g of protein with less than 1 g of fat.


The NIH counts soybeans, with 21 g protein per cup, as the only complete protein food from plant sources. Lima, garbanzo, kidney, black and pinto beans deliver 14 to 16 g of protein. All cooked beans contain 1 g fat or less.

Frozen Spaghetti Dinners

Frozen dinners of spaghetti with meat sauce derive 14 g protein from tomatoes, beef, wheat and eggs. With just 3 g of fat, these packaged protein foods can be accommodated within a good diet under FDA guidelines.


Nutrient levels are high in fat-free plain yogurt, which offers 13 g of protein and nearly 50 percent of calcium daily values in 1 cup.


While eggs don't represent the healthiest food sources of protein, they are convenient for an occasional nutritional boost. The USDA reports that one scrambled egg has 7 g protein and 7 g fat. Double those figures for two eggs, or reduce fat totals by poaching eggs in water.

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