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12 High Protein Beans and Legumes

Last Updated on December 24, 2023

Here are 12 high-protein beans and legumes that are a natural way to increase your protein intake. Besides animal proteins, beans are not only a staple food worldwide, but they’re also packed with high amounts of protein.

beans with most protein

This article will guide you through the types of beans that house the most protein and how to incorporate them into your diet effectively.

Let’s embark on this bean-filled journey towards better health!

Top High Protein Beans

The top high-protein beans include soybeans, lentils, large white beans, borlotti beans, split peas, and pinto beans.

1. Soybeans and Edamames – Highest in Protein

30 grams of protein in one cup of beans.

high protein low carb beans

Soybeans are the highest protein beans and pack a serious protein punch for your meals.

These little beans outshine many other plant-based protein sources. Not to mention, soybeans help keep you fuller longer due to their rich fiber content.

They are the main ingredient of bean curd products. Whether used in soups or ground into tofu, soybeans offer versatility in cooking while delivering high-quality nutrition. 

2. Lentils

18 grams of protein in just one cup cooked

lentils

They are a fantastic source of protein, making them an excellent addition to any diet. Plus, lentils contain a substantial amount of this essential nutrient.

In addition to their high protein-dense content, lentils also offer other health benefits such as being low in fat and cholesterol while providing important nutrients like iron and folate.

3. Borlotti Beans

16 grams of protein in one cooked cup.

beans protein source

Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans, are a popular choice for those seeking a high-protein plant-based food.

These beans are packed with essential nutrients, including protein, which is vital for muscle growth and repair.

This makes them an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans looking to meet their daily protein requirements.

In addition, borlotti beans are also a great source of fiber, with approximately 6 grams per serving. 

4. Split Peas

16 grams of protein per cup serving.

high protein beans and legumes

Split peas are a type of legume that is high in protein. They are small, round seeds that come in green or yellow varieties.

They can be used in soups, stews, and salads or cooked on their own as a side dish. 

Plus, they offer micronutrients such as iron and folate. Add split peas to your meals for a tasty way to meet your protein daily value!

5. Large White Beans

15 grams of protein per cooked cup

highest protein beans per 100g

Large white beans are an excellent choice for those looking to increase their protein intake.

These legumes are packed with nutrients and offer a substantial amount of protein. They can be a valuable addition to any balanced diet.

Whether you enjoy them in soups, stews, or as a side dish, incorporating large white beans into your meals can contribute to your overall protein consumption.

6. Pinto Beans

15 grams of protein per cooked cup.

pinto vs black beans

Pinto beans are one of the most popular types of beans due to their versatility and nutritional benefits.

They are widely known for their high protein content, making them a great choice for plant-based diets. 

Whether used in soups, stews, salads, or as a side dish, pinto beans offer both taste and nutrition to any meal. 

7. Black Beans 

15 grams of protein per cup

pinto beans vs black beans

Black beans are an excellent source of protein, making them a popular choice for those seeking a high-protein diet.

Consumption of black beans can help individuals meet their protein needs, especially for those following a vegan diet.

Plus, black beans provide essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium. 

8. Chickpeas 

15 grams of protein per cup.

chickpeas high in protein

Chickpeas are not only a great source of protein, but they also provide other important nutrients such as iron, and magnesium.

Including them in your diet can help you meet your daily protein requirements and contribute to a well-balanced diet.

Whether consumed on their own or used in various dishes like soups, chickpea salad, or falafel.  

9. Red Kidney Beans

15 grams of protein in one cup.

high calorie beans

Red kidney beans are a popular variety of beans that are known for their rich, meaty texture and distinct, robust flavor.

Not only are they delicious, but they are also nutrient-dense and are considered protein-rich beans.

Plus, red kidney beans contain other essential nutrients such as iron, and copper.

10. Navy Beans 

15 grams of protein per cooked cup

legumes with highest protein

Navy beans are often referred to as high-protein beans due to their impressive nutrient profile.

These small, oval-shaped beans pack a nutritional punch, providing a rich source of protein.

They offer a substantial amount of this essential macronutrient, making them an excellent choice for those looking to increase their protein intake. 

11. Cannellini Beans 

15 grams of protein per cooked cup.

most protein rich beans

Cannellini beans are an excellent source of high-quality protein, making them a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans looking to meet their protein needs. 

Incorporating cannellini beans into your diet can help you meet your daily protein requirements without relying solely on animal-based sources.

These versatile beans can be added to salads, soups, stews, dips, and casseroles, providing a filling and nutritious addition to your meals. 

12. Red Beans

15 grams of protein per one-cup serving.

bean with the highest protein

Red beans are known for their protein-rich content, making them a popular choice among health enthusiasts and vegetarians. 

They are also rich in other nutrients such as iron, and magnesium, which are important for the body’s functions.

Including red beans in your diet can help meet your protein needs and contribute to a balanced and nutritious meal.

Whether added to a salad, soup, or main dish, red beans offer a delicious and versatile way to increase your protein intake. 

Nutrients of Beans High in Protein

They offer numerous health benefits, including muscle building and repair, weight management, blood sugar control, heart health, and digestive health.

💪🏼 Muscle building and repair

They are excellent for muscle building and repair. Because they contain the essential amino acids and omega-3 needed to build and repair muscles after workouts. 

Consuming these protein-rich legumes regularly can help support your fitness goals by providing the necessary nutrients to promote muscle growth and recovery

💪🏼 Weight management

They’re also low in fat and high in fiber, which helps you feel fuller for longer and prevents overeating.

Additionally, the high protein content of beans can aid in muscle building and repair, which is important for maintaining a healthy weight.

Incorporating high-protein beans into your meals can help support your weight management goals while providing essential nutrients for overall health.

💪🏼 Blood sugar control

These legumes have a low glycemic index, which means they don’t cause a sharp increase in blood sugar levels after consumption.

Instead, they provide a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream, preventing spikes and crashes.

This makes beans an excellent choice for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels effectively.

💪🏼 Heart health

Beans and legumes may help your heart health.

These beans are rich in fiber and contain potassium and magnesium which help lower blood pressure.

Additionally, they are low in saturated fat and cholesterol which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

💪🏼 Digestive Health

High-protein beans, such as soybeans, lentils, and pinto beans, not only provide muscle-building benefits but also contribute to digestive health.

These legumes promote regular bowel movements and help prevent constipation.

Plus, the high protein content aids in the digestion process by supplying essential amino acids that support proper enzyme function. 

(Reference: Healthline)

Cooking and Incorporating High-Protein Beans into Your Diet

Find out how you can easily incorporate them into different meals for a boost of protein:

☘️ Recipes and meal ideas

vegan burger with chips on a plate

Try making a savory lentil and vegetable stew, or whip up a batch of protein-packed black bean burgers. And don’t forget about borlotti beans, which make a fantastic addition to soups and stews. 

If you’re looking for meal ideas that are quick and easy, try making a simple bean chili or adding split peas to your favorite stir-fry recipe.

For those who enjoy international cuisine, consider trying out recipes like Brazilian feijoada made with black beans or pan-fried chickpeas as a side dish.

☘️ Tips for cooking and preparing beans

To get the most out of your beans, it’s important to know how to cook and prepare them properly.

First, make sure to soak dried beans overnight before cooking them as this helps reduce their cooking time and makes them easier to digest.

When cooking, use plenty of water and bring it to a boil before simmering until the beans are tender.

Adding olive oil, garlic salt or acidic ingredients like tomatoes should be done towards the end of cooking to help prevent toughening.

Other Nutritional Benefits of Beans

Beans are not only high in protein, but they also offer other nutritional benefits such as being a great source of fiber and important micronutrients like iron.

Let’s have a look at other health benefits of beans:

🌱 Fiber content

Beans are not only a great source of protein, but they are also a good source of dietary fiber.

It is essential for human bodies that aid in digestion and help maintain a healthy digestive system.

🌱 Micronutrients

Iron is crucial for the production of healthy red blood cells, while folate plays a key role in cell growth and development.

🌱 Low in fat and cholesterol

Beans are also low in fat and cholesterol. This makes them an excellent choice for those looking to maintain a healthy diet and lower cholesterol levels.

Final Thoughts

High-protein beans like soybeans, lentils, and pinto beans are not only delicious but also offer various health benefits.

These legumes can help with muscle building and repairweight managementblood sugar controlheart health, and digestive health.

With their high fiber content and rich in micronutrients, they make for a great addition to any balanced diet.

Don’t forget to try out the various recipes and meal ideas to incorporate these protein-packed beans into your daily meals.

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