Is Fruit The Protein Source We’ve All Been Missing Out On?
When you think of protein, fruit doesn’t usually come to mind.
“The best sources include chicken, fish, seafood, turkey, tofu, Greek yogurt, beans, lentils, cottage cheese, and eggs,” says registered dietician, Melissa Majumdar, 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 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,” says Majumdar. “Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will offer a few grams each, but they are often not complete sources of protein and provide us with more macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates) than protein.” Unless you’re eating kilos 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 fibre 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 fibre 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 five fruits that contain relatively high amounts of protein, as well as the other benefits they offer.
Protein: 0.95 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 fibre 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.
Related: Four Ways to Build the Ultimate Protein Bowl That You Can Throw In Your Bag And Take Wherever You Go
2. Dried Cherries
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.
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 fibre 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.
Related: This Honey-Nut-Oat Shake Tastes Like Cereal But Packs The Protein And Nutrients You Need To Get Through The Day
5. Golden Raisins
Protein: 1.35 grams per 1/2 cup (packed)
"Raisins are a good vegetarian source of iron and provide fibre 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.