10 beans and legumes high in protein

Whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat eater, chances are you aim for a balanced diet that consists largely of whole foods to meet various health and nutritional needs and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Beans are one of the most versatile options available, whether you enjoy them as a side to your main course, as a base for veggie burgers, or in a hearty soup or filling salad.

In this article, we cover some of the highest protein bean options, along with their nutritional values ​​and health benefits.

High protein beans

According to New Jersey-based nutritionist Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies, when you prioritize protein in the form of beans and legumes, you have many options to choose from. The following beans are among the highest sources:


Soymerica Non-GMO Soybeans - 7 lbs

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365 by Whole Foods Market, Lentils Green Organic, 16 oz

365 from Whole Foods Market



White beans

BUSH'S BEST Canned Great Northern Beans (Pack of 12)


Del Monte Canned Fresh Cut Sweet Peas No Added Salt, 8.5 Ounces (Pack of 12)

pinto beans

Amazon Brand - Happy Belly Pinto Beans, 15 Ounces

kidney beans

365 Everyday Value, Organic Dark Red Kidney Beans, 15.25 oz

365 from Whole Foods Market


Black beans

Amazon Brand - Happy Belly Black Beans, 15 oz

Cannellini beans

365 by Whole Foods Market, No Added Salt Cannellini Beans, Organic, 13.4 oz

365 from Whole Foods Market


navy beans

365 by Whole Foods Market, Beans Navy Organic, 15.5 oz

365 from Whole Foods Market


Adzuki beans

Eden Organic Aduki Red Beans, 15 oz can

Which beans have the highest protein content?

According to Palinski-Wade, of the beans listed above, the highest source of protein comes from soybeans at 30 grams per cup, which is good news if you like snacking on edamame or prefer soymilk as a non-dairy choice.

“The remaining beans and lentils contain between 15 and 17 grams of protein per serving,” she says.

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Are beans a good meat substitute?

If you’re looking for a meat substitute for something like burgers, beans may not be the best option for mimicking the same texture and flavor. But if you’re simply looking for something filling and flavorful, they can still work in that regard, in addition to offering various health benefits.

“Although both plant-based meats and animal proteins can be part of a balanced and nutritious diet, legumes like beans and lentils are good sources of fiber alongside protein, which can help with appetite regulation and portion control,” Palinski-Wade says. “In addition, the high fiber content with little to no fat may help provide cardiovascular benefits such as reduced cholesterol levels.”

Which beans have more protein than meat?

We hate to pop your bubble when you’re looking for beans that beat the protein content of meat. But there are some that come pretty darn close while offering important health benefits that meat doesn’t have, says Palinski-Wade. Beans can be a great option not only for protein needs, but also when you’re looking for something filling to help control your weight.

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“Although beans contain slightly less protein than meat (1/2 cup of beans or lentils contain about 7-8 grams of protein, or about what’s in 1 ounce of animal protein), they also provide a significant source of fiber and less saturated fat , which can make them a beneficial substitute when it comes to promoting lower cholesterol,” she explains. “The high fiber content in beans and lentils can also be a significant source of low-calorie satiety, making beans an excellent choice for weight management.”

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