Chicken, fish, and beef tend to be the go-to sources for protein, and even if you add tofu to the mix, things can get boring. But now there's another option: According to a recent study, seaweed—yep, your sushi wrapper—provides a good dose of the muscle-building nutrient.
While the amount of protein differs among varieties of seaweed, it ranges from about 2 to 9 grams per cup. And besides being high in protein, seaweed is also loaded with minerals, vitamins, and hormone-like substances that are good for the body. In fact, the variety dulse contains renin-inhibitory peptides similar to those found in ACE inhibitors, a class of medicines that helps relax the blood vessels used to treat high blood pressure, migraines, and other conditions, says Mary Hartley, R.D., nutrition expert for DietsInReview.com.
She recommends eating seaweed in salads, soups, or stir-fries.
"Dehydrated dulse is like a jerky that can be eaten plain or crumbled into dishes. Nori, used for sushi wrappers, is roasted seaweed, and kelp granules are often sold as a high-iodine salt substitute, " she says. "We probably eat seaweed most often as the food ingredients carrageenan and agar added to ice cream, beer, bread, and other many foods."
However, do be warned that it takes quite a bit of seaweed salad to compete with meat. For example, you’d have to eat 21 nori sheets to get the protein found in one 3-ounce chicken breast, and the Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, protein can safely contribute 10 to 35 percent of your total calories, Hartley says.
1. Lentils: 1 cup cooked = 18 grams
2. Peanuts: 1/2 cup shelled = 19 grams
3. Pumpkin seeds: 1/2 cup hulled = 17 grams
4. Quinoa: 1/2 cup uncooked = 14 grams
5. Greek yogurt: 6 ounces = 18 grams
How will you incorporate these higher-protein eats into your diet? And who's ready to go out for sushi?
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.