7 Seeds With The Most Protein (Plus, 5 High Protein Nuts)

Incorporating different seeds into your diet can be a great way to hit your daily protein goal. Not only do many seeds provide a significant amount of protein, but they also offer a generous amount of healthy fats, fiber, and other essential nutrients.

So which seed has the most protein? Hemp seeds are the seeds with the most protein with around 9 grams per ounce. The quality of protein in hemp seeds is also superior to most other seeds because it contains all 9 essential amino acids that the body does not produce, making it a complete protein.

In this article, I will discuss:

  • Why are seeds a good source of protein?
  • How much protein should you get from seeds?
  • Protein in seeds compared with alternatives
  • 7 seeds with the most protein
  • 5 nuts with the most protein

Why Are Seeds A Good Source Of Protein?

Seeds are a great source of protein to include in your diet because they have an average of 6 grams of protein per ounce. They are also rich in essential minerals and micronutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus that provide additional health benefits.

Another reason that seeds are a healthy protein option is that they’re high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are healthy fats that your body needs to function optimally.

Polyunsaturated fats, in particular, also known as Omega 3 fats, are linked to reduced inflammation in the body. Consumption of omega-3 fats has even been linked to a reduced risk of mental health ailments such as depression.

Although seeds don’t have enough protein on their own to deliver a sufficient amount of protein for a meal (ideally 20 to 30 grams), they are an excellent addition to any meal or snack to help boost the protein content of any meal or snack that’s lacking protein.

For example, if you have a meal with only 11 grams of protein and the goal is at least 20 grams, then adding an ounce of hemp seeds to your meal as a garnish can bump that meal up to your 20-gram goal.

How Much Protein Should You Get from Seeds?

Seeds are lower in protein than many other animal and plant-based protein sources, so it would be difficult to meet your daily protein goal with seeds alone, but it’s realistic to get around 18 grams of protein from seeds per day.

Although seeds are an amazing source of protein, many do not contain all 9 essential amino acids, making them incomplete proteins. An incomplete protein means the seed doesn’t contain all of the amino acids that your body needs from a protein source to perform certain functions. 

Seeds that are incomplete proteins need to be paired with other protein sources to become complete and serve their function in the body. 

The few seeds that do contain all of the essential amino acids (making them complete proteins) are hemp seeds and chia seeds.

Seeds have, at most, 9 grams of protein, so even if you were to include 4 servings of seeds per day, this would still only give you 36 grams of protein. Considering most people will need at least 120 grams of protein per day, it would be unrealistic to meet this goal with seeds as your main source of protein.

For this reason, I recommend you limit yourself to 2 to 3 servings of seeds per day and rely on other protein sources like chicken, fish, lentils, tofu, and greek yogurt to help you increase your protein intake and meet your daily protein goal.

Are you eating the right foods for your bodybuilding goals?

Protein In Seeds Compared With Alternatives

Although seeds can be a great source of protein to include in your diet, it is important to ensure that you are eating different protein sources to ensure you’re meeting your protein goals and taking in a variety of nutrients.

Consuming a variety of protein sources is important to ensure that you’re getting all of the nutrients that your body needs from food. If you were to eat the same protein source over and over without any variety, then you would have a higher risk of becoming deficient in key nutrients.

Seeds vs Animal Protein Alternatives 

Ensuring that you are including animal-based proteins in your diet, such as red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, is a good idea because these foods are high in quality protein and nutrients.

When you compare the protein content of certain seeds to the protein found in animal protein such as chicken breast, they are actually fairly comparable. 

For example, there are 9 grams of protein in 1 ounce of hemp seeds, which is roughly the same amount that is in 1 ounce of a cooked chicken breast.

However, the chicken breast does not contain as much fat, carbohydrates, or fiber as seeds. Therefore, if you are trying to hit your protein goal without going over your carb and fat macros, choosing chicken or another animal protein will be the better option for you to hit your target.

On the other hand, unlike seeds, animal protein does not contain any fiber. Eating enough dietary fiber is crucial for blood sugar regulation and digestive health, which makes seeds a great protein option that will benefit you in more ways than one.

Seeds vs Plant-Based Alternatives

When comparing seeds to other plant-based proteins such as grains, beans, and legumes, seeds are actually at the top of the list when measuring protein content per ounce.

For example, 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds contains around 8.5 grams of protein, whereas 1 oz of lentils contains only around 3 grams of protein. Similarly, 1 ounce of quinoa contains 3.7 grams of protein, which is far less than what the same measurement of most seeds can offer.

7 Seeds with the Most Protein

The 7 seeds with the highest amounts of protein per 1 ounce serving are:

TYPE OF SEEDAMOUNT OF PROTEIN (Per 1 ounce serving)
Hemp Seeds9 grams
Pumpkin Seeds8.5 grams
Sunflower Seeds5.4 grams
Flaxseeds5.1 grams
Sesame Seeds4.7 grams
Chia Seeds4.4 grams
Safflower Seeds4.2 grams

1. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds

Coming in at the number one spot with a whopping 9 grams of protein per ounce are hemp seeds. Not only are hemp seeds high in protein, but they contain all 9 of the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein.

Hemp seeds are also high in healthy fats that are beneficial for heart health and have anti-inflammatory properties to help regulate inflammation in the body.

You can use hemp seeds in a variety of different ways, such as in breakfast cereal, sprinkled on a salad, in baked goods, or added to a smoothie. Try this hemp heart energy bite recipe for a tasty mid-afternoon snack that will satisfy your sweet tooth and keep you feeling full.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 157 calories
  • Protein- 9 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 2.5 grams
  • Fat- 14 grams

2. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) contain around 8.5 grams of protein per ounce, and also contain a variety of other essential nutrients such as phosphorus, zinc, vitamin K, iron, copper, potassium, and magnesium.

Roasted pumpkin seeds are the perfect addition to a salad, trail mix, or granola and can be used as a garnish for smoothies, soups, or bread.

Try this roasted pumpkin seed recipe to consume either as a snack, or a tasty topping on a salad.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 171 calories
  • Protein- 8.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 5 grams
  • Fat- 13 grams

3. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds

Not only do sunflower seeds contain 5.4 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving but they are also packed with antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E, which can help to fight free radicals and disease in the body.

You can even replace regular peanut butter and almond butter with sunflower seed butter. Try this homemade sunflower seed butter recipe to use on your morning toast or in an oatmeal bowl.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 167 calories
  • Protein- 5.4 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 5 grams
  • Fat- 14 grams

4. Flax Seeds

Flax seeds

Flaxseeds are the fourth highest protein seed, with 5.1 grams of protein in a serving. In addition to their protein content, flax seeds come with various health benefits.

For example, studies have found that consuming flax seeds in your diet can help reduce levels of bad cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.

The best way to consume flaxseeds is to buy them ground or to grind them yourself because your body cannot break down flaxseed shells; therefore, you do not receive the same benefits from consuming whole flaxseed.

You can consume flaxseed in various ways, including making your own flaxseed pancakes. Another easy way to consume flaxseed that requires little to no effort is adding a serving of ground flaxseed to your morning smoothie.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 151 calories
  • Protein- 5.1 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 8 grams
  • Fat- 12 grams

5. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are a great source of plant-based protein, with 4.7 grams of protein per serving. Additionally, sesame seeds are a great source of dietary fiber, with 1 ounce having 3 grams of fiber, which is great for improving your digestive health.

My all-time favorite way to consume sesame seeds is to make tahini, which is a paste or “butter” made of ground-up sesame seeds. 

I love to use tahini in homemade creamy salad dressings. If you want to try a dairy-free version of a Caesar salad dressing that is high in protein, try this Vegan Caesar Dressing, which uses tahini as the main ingredient.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 162 calories
  • Protein- 4.7 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 7 grams
  • Fat- 14 grams

6. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are extremely versatile seeds that contain 4.4 grams of protein per ounce. They also contain a significant amount of healthy Omega 3 fats, so if you aren’t a fan of fish, then eating chia seeds is an awesome way to get these healthy fats into your diet.

Chia seeds are also very unique because they can absorb up to 10 times their weight in liquid. Their ability to absorb liquids makes them great in overnight oats, smoothies, or eaten as a pudding. You can try making this tasty chia seed pudding as a healthy and fiber-filled snack.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 138 calories
  • Protein- 4.4 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 12 grams
  • Fat- 9 grams

7. Safflower Seeds

Safflower seeds

Not to be confused with sunflower seeds, safflower seeds are from the safflower plant and are a great source of dietary protein with 4.2 grams per serving. While they are often used in bird feed, safflower seeds can be a great seed to add to your diet for protein and health benefits.

Safflower is typically used as an oil for cooking, but when consumed as a seed, it also contains a high amount of protein, fiber, and healthy fats that have been shown to help reduce cholesterol and the hardening of the arteries.

While there are minimal recipes out there for safflower seeds, you can add this seed to your trail mix or as a topping on a salad to boost the protein content of your meal and the variety of nutrients in your diet.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 147 calories
  • Protein- 4.2 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 9 grams
  • Fat- 10 grams

5 Nuts with the Most Protein

Similar to seeds, nuts are also a fantastic source of healthy protein because they have an average of 5.6 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving. Additionally, they are a healthy source of fat, fiber, and other micronutrients that support your overall health.

The 5 nuts with the highest amounts of protein per 1-ounce serving are:

TYPE OF NUTAMOUNT OF PROTEIN (Per 1 ounce serving)
Peanuts6.9 grams
Almonds6.1 grams
Pistachios5.8 grams
Cashews5 grams
Walnuts4.3 grams

1. Peanuts

Peanuts

Peanuts and peanut products are a great protein option with nearly 7 grams of protein per serving. Peanuts also contain a variety of nutrients that can help to support your heart health.

While technically classified as a legume, peanuts are more commonly seen as a part of the nut family.

Peanuts can be consumed in a variety of ways such as in a trail mix, as peanut butter, or in baking. My favorite way to use peanuts is in savory Thai food as a peanut sauce.

If you prefer sweet over savory, try these healthy peanut butter cookies the next time you feel like your sweet tooth is getting the better of you!

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 161 calories
  • Protein- 6.9 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 4.5 grams
  • Fat- 14 grams

2. Almonds

Almonds

Almonds are an amazing food packed with 6 grams of protein and monounsaturated fats, and minerals such as magnesium, copper, phosphorous, and calcium. 

Using almond butter as an alternative to peanut butter can be a great option if you have a peanut allergy, which is one of the more common nut allergies. Even if you don’t have a peanut allergy, you might be like me and prefer the nuttier taste of almond butter compared to peanut butter.

Almonds are quite versatile and can be used in almond milk, almond flour, and even almond cheese as an alternative to conventional dairy. If you want to consume them as a snack on their own, try this Sesame Honey Roasted Almond recipe.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 165 calories
  • Protein- 6 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 6 grams
  • Fat- 14 grams

3. Pistachios

Pistachios

Pistachios are a delicious protein-rich food that is also high in vitamin B6 (great for blood sugar regulation) and potassium (an essential electrolyte necessary for several bodily functions).

For a healthy on-the-go snack, try this healthy Pistachio and Date Raw bar. This recipe requires no baking time and is going to keep you full and satisfied while helping you hit your protein intake for the day.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 159 calories
  • Protein- 5.8 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 8 grams
  • Fat- 13 grams

4. Cashews

Cashews

Cashews are another nut that is high in protein with 5 grams per serving. Cashews are commonly consumed on their own, in trail mix, in baked goods, or even as cashew butter if almond and peanut butter aren’t your favorite.

Cashews also contain a small amount of saturated fat, which can be beneficial in moderate amounts. In fact, saturated fat is essential to maintaining the health of the cell membranes in your body. Therefore, these fats should not be avoided entirely, but consumed in moderation.

My favorite way to use cashews is in dairy-free cheese and creamy sauces. Using cashews as a dairy alternative is perfect for those who want to reduce their dairy consumption. 

I recommend this Cashew Fettuccine Alfredo to help you pack more protein into your next dairy-free pasta dish.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 157 calories
  • Protein- 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 9 grams
  • Fat- 12 grams

5. Walnuts

Walnuts

While walnuts might not be the highest protein nut, they are worth adding to your diet for the variety of other nutrients that they provide. Walnuts are rich in antioxidants, as well as healthy Omega 3 fats that can help to decrease inflammation in the body.

There are a variety of different ways to include walnuts into your diet. If you want to experiment more with this healthy nut, I recommend checking out this article for 25 easy walnut recipes.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 ounce serving:

  • Calories– 185 calories
  • Protein- 4.3 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 3.9 grams
  • Fat- 18 grams

What To Read Next:

Let’s get you in the best shape of your life. Sounds good?


About The Author

COLBY ROY

Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.