It is commonly known that proteins are essential nutrients for maintaining and building muscles mass. Yes, absolutely right. Yet, most people think that meat, chicken and seafood are the only sources providing that nutrient, which is not right.
Indeed, vegetarian foods are impressively good for your body not only due to the load of vitamins, fiber and minerals they contain but also proteins they can provide you.
In this article, we will spotlight fruits among the vegetarian group. We will, thus, take a closer look at the high protein fruits, but before, let us explain what a protein is and why it is a macronutrient essential for the body.
What Are Proteins and Why Are They Essential For the Body?
In order to survive, our body needs in big amount three critical substances called macronutrients that provide energy or calories for the body. These macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Proteins are essential for building muscles mass and ensuring that every cell is working properly. In fact, many parts of the body contains proteins. The muscles, bones, the skin, even enzymes and hormones, and each cell contain proteins.
These macronutrients are, then, like machines operating for the proper body functioning.
Chemically speaking, proteins are composed of long chains of amino acids, organic molecules made of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sometimes sulfur. They are the building blocks of proteins.
The body uses around 20 amino acids to synthesize proteins in order to function correctly. Yet, there are 9 essential amino acids that the body does not synthesize and should, then, necessarily come from the foods we eat. Hence the importance of having a rich protein diet.
Proteins are critical for every biological process, for tissue building and strengthening the immune system. Some studies even show that eating high protein foods keeps you full and helps with weight loss. It has to do with the thermogenesis process explained in the zero-calorie foods article.
Thus, any deficiency in proteins can lead to lean muscles, skin lesions, thin hair, malnutrition and even can be life threatening.
As said before, animal products like meat, eggs and milk are the main sources of proteins but are not the only ones. Let us check out which fruits are the highest in proteins.
Criteria Behind High Protein Fruits Selection
We have listed in this article 10 high protein fruits that contain more than 6% of the daily value needed per one-cup serving. The list is sorted by a descending order from the highest fruits in proteins.
We have used the serving size as a measure unit as it is easy to compare and so that you can calculate easily your daily-recommended intake.
10 High Protein Fruits to Consume Daily
Here is a list of high protein fruits to include in your diet in order to prevent protein deficiency and boost your energy levels. We have listed the highest protein fruits in both raw state and dried state.
1. Passion Fruit (Granadilla)
Protein per 1-cup serving: 5.2g (10% DV)
Granadilla or Passiflora edulis is a tropical sweet fruit with purple skin. It is one type among the several types of the passion fruit cultivated mainly in the tropical and subtropical areas and belonging to the Passifloraceae family.
This fruit is high in proteins. Only one-cup serving can provide you with 10% of the daily value needed.
It is also a rich source of the antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A, a source of B vitamins notably riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6, a source of minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium and a great source of fiber.
These nutrients make granadilla a dense-nutrient fruit with antioxidant, digestive and heart health properties.
Protein per 1-cup serving (pureed): (Between 9 -10% DV) with an amino-acid score of 129 (*)
Avocado is a fruit belonging to the Lauraceae family. There are many types of avocados but we generally commonly talk about three varieties: Florida avocados, California avocados and a commercial variety.
This fruit is an easily digestible high-fat food as it contains healthy fat. The majority of fat in avocado is the monounsaturated fatty acid notably the oleic acid that is the principal component of the olive oil. These fatty acids are heart-healthy and proven to be good for lowering the bad cholesterol and increasing the good one.
Besides, there are small differences between these types of avocados. As far as the size and color are concerned, Florida avocados are larger with a smooth skin and California avocados are smaller with a pebbly skin.
As far as the nutritional profile is concerned, there are some small differences in the daily value of proteins, of some nutrients and in the fat content as shown in the following table:
We can deduce that the Florida avocados are the highest in protein. One-cup of pureed Florida avocado provide you with 10% of the daily value of protein. It is also high in vitamin C, fiber, vitamin E, folate, copper, magnesium and potassium.
Protein per 1-cup serving: 4.2g (8% DV) with an amino acid score of 24 (*)
Guava is a tropical fruit of the Psidium guajava tree belonging to the Myrtaceae family and native to Mexico, Central and South America regions.
With a round or oval shape, light green skin and pink flesh, this fruit has a unique flavor and is considered a super fruit due to the health benefits it offers.
Besides containing 8% of the daily value of protein per one-cup serving, guava is an extraordinary source of vitamin C. One-cup serving offers 628% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, meaning more than 6 times the amount needed. This makes it a powerful antioxidant, inflammation fighter, skin protector and immune system booster.
It is also high in folate, vitamin A, copper and contains potassium as much as a banana.
4. Horned Melon (Kiwano)
Protein per 1-cup serving: 4.1g (8% DV) with an amino acid score of 24 (*)
Horned Melon, called also kiwano or African horned cucumber or melon, is a fruit native to sub-Saharan Africa and belonging to cucumber and melon family, the Cucurbitaceae. This fruit has an orange skin with spikes on the surface, thus the name “horned melon” and a green jelly-like flesh.
This fruit is high in proteins. In fact, one-cup serving of kiwano provide 8% of the daily value needed of proteins.
It is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, iron and magnesium, which makes it good for digestion, reducing pre-mature aging, improving eyes health, strengthening muscles, bones and many other benefits.
Protein per 1-cup serving (chopped or diced): 3.6 g (7% DV)
Durian is a tropical fruit belonging to the Malvaceae family. It has a spiky outer shell and a smelly flesh. Yet, it is considered in the Southeast Asia regions “a king fruit” as it is very rich in nutrients.
One-cup serving of Durian contains 7% of daily value needed of proteins. Besides, it is high in fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, copper, potassium and other compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids, which makes it good for reducing cancer risk, preventing heart disease, lowering blood sugar and fighting inflammation.
Yet, due to its smell and particular taste, durian fruit cannot be for everyone.
Protein per 1-cup (pulp): 3.4 g (7% DV)
Tamarinds is a fruit originated of tropical Africa and belonging to the Fabaceae family. This fruit is in the form of a pod containing seeds and surrounded by a pulp.
The pulp of tamarind is edible with a sweet-sour taste and is used in recipes around the world.
This pulp is rich in protein. One-cup serving of tamarinds pulp provide 7% of the daily value of protein needed.
Besides, tamarind is rich in fiber, iron, B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, Niacin), magnesium, potassium and phosphorous, which makes it good for heart health, for lowering the blood pressure and having anti-inflammatory properties.
Protein per 1-cup: 2.9 g (6% DV)
Pomegranate is a fruit belonging to the Lythraceae family. The fruit is round and red like an apple with a thick inedible skin and red seeds in the within called arils.
Pomegranate is a high nutrient food. One cup serving of this fruit provides 6% of the daily value needed of protein. Besides, it is a good source of vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, folate, copper and potassium.
Due to containing a plant compound called Punicalagins, Pomegranate has impressive anti-inflammatory properties and can help fight certain cancers.
Protein per 1-cup (sliced): 2.8 g (6% DV)
Jackfruit is a fruit native to southwest India and belonging to the Moraceae family.
It has a subtle sweet and fruity taste that many people cross it with a combination of pineapple, banana, mango and apple.
This fruit is a good source of protein with a daily value of 6%. Besides, it contains important amount of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, manganese and potassium. This makes it a healthy fruit rich in antioxidant and having several health benefits.
9. Dried Jujube
Protein per 3.5 ounces-serving (100 g): 4.7 g (9% DV)
Jujube is a small brown to purplish-black fruit belonging to the Rhamnaceae family and native to the southern Asia. Due to its small size, it is generally called red date or Chinese date.
This fruit has a sweet taste and is richer in vitamin C than the most known vitamin C fruits and vegetables like kiwifruit, oranges and broccoli. This makes it a powerful antioxidant with immune system boosting properties.
Yet, when used dried, Jujube becomes richer in vitamin C and in proteins. 100 grams serving of dried Jujube provide you with 9% of the daily value needed in proteins.
Following some studies, this fruit is found to be good for lowering blood pressure, treating anemia and preventing some cancers.
10. Goji Berries Dried
Protein per 5 tbsp. – serving (100 g): 4 g (8% DV)
Goji Berry is a fruit of the Solanaceae family. It is native to Asia. This fruit has been used in the Chinese medicine for many years and is considered, following some studies, a superfood high in nutrients.
Used mainly in dried form, like raisins, dried Goji berries are high in proteins. 5 tablespoons of this dried fruit provide you with 8% of the daily value needed of proteins. Moreover, they contain the 9 esential amino acids that the body cannot make, which is rare in a fruit.
This fruit is, also, a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron and B2 vitamin. These nutrients help protect the body against chronic diseases, improve eyes health, keep the energy up and boost fertility.
Yet, the debate is still open about its safety for pregnant women.
1 – Are proteins a part of every tissue, every enzyme, every cell in the body?
Yes, muscles, bones, skin, enzymes, hormones, antibodies and every cell contain protein. Proteins are the building blocks of tissues and organs. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.
2 – Is there any fruit containing the nine essential amino acids?
As listed above in this article, dried goji berries contain the nine essential amino acids and are considered complete proteins, which is rare in a fruit.
When we eat amino acids in foods, the body create and synthesize them into proteins needed for the body to function correctly.
3 – What are essential amino acids?
They are amino acids that cannot be made by the body and should necessarily come from your diet. They are needed for many vital processes like protein synthesis, hormone and enzyme production, etc.
These are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
4 – How many amino acids are they?
Our body uses 20 types of amino acids arranged in different combinations to form different proteins.
5 – What are the types of proteins?
There are three types of proteins:
Complete proteins: These foods contain the nine essential amino acids. In general, in animal sources like eggs, meat.
Incomplete proteins: These foods contain at least one essential amino acid, and thus an imbalance in protein. Peas, grains and beans, for example, contain incomplete proteins.
Complementary proteins: Combining two or more foods containing two or more incomplete proteins to be an equivalent intake of complete protein. For example, bread and peanut butter, beans and rice.
6 – What is the amino acid score (*) or protein quality concept?
It is important to note that eating proteins is not only about quantity but also about quality.
In fact, the Protein quality depends on eating foods providing all the essential amino acids in the proper proportions. If one amino acid or more is not in the sufficient amount, the protein taken in your food is considered incomplete.
The Amino Acid Score is used to calculate the protein quality. 100 or higher indicates a complete or high-quality protein. An amino acid score less than 100 indicates an incomplete protein. In this case, combining complementary proteins is needed.
7 – What is the daily amount of protein a person should take?
The amount of protein a person should take depends on age, sex, level of physical activity and the health state.
Following the U.S department of agriculture, a safe level of protein is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of the body weight.
8 – How much of your daily intake of calories should come from proteins?
It is recommended that 10 to 35% of daily calories come from protein.