Protein is a macronutrient necessary for building muscle mass and facilitating many chemical reactions in the body. The three macronutrients essential for life are protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Proteins are composed of amino acids. While the human body can produce some amino acids, others must come from food. The nine amino acids we cannot produce naturally are known as the nine essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Depending on your health, age, and activity level, protein needs can range from 0.8 grams/kg to 2 grams/kg for very active athletes. The average American needs to eat 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight daily. Tasty snacks like cheese, peanut butter, and oysters are included in our list of the best high protein foods.

1. Lentils

Lentils are a fiber- and protein-rich source of carbohydrates. 100 grams of lentils provides 9 grams of protein; a 1-cup serving offers 17.9 grams! This makes lentils a great part of any healthy diet. Legumes, in general, are an excellent source of iron. Additionally, lentils provide the body with copper, manganese, phosphorus, and folate. Folate and iron work together to support the production of red blood cells and improve blood flow, while folate plays an integral role in preventing neural tube defects during pregnancy. Folate also works with potassium to decrease the risk of heart-related issues.

philipimage / Getty Images

philipimage / Getty Images