A plate of flat circular pieces of bread with avocado, pomegranate seeds, and feta cheese with a latte and extra bowl of pomegranate arils on the side.

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Most Fruit Doesn’t Have Any Protein. These 6 Dietitian-Loved Picks Are the Exception

Although they aren’t the food group with the most protein, these six fruits are a sweet, simple way to add a few more grams of the muscle-building macro to your day.

By Karla WalshJune 26, 2024

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We’re taught early in life that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” There’s a reason for that: “Fruits provide an array of good-for-you nutrients, including gut-friendly fiber, phytonutrients, as well as vitamins and minerals,” says Elizabeth Shaw, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist, founder of Shaw Simple Swaps, and the author of the Air Fryer Cookbook for Dummies

Undoubtedly, fruit provides a ton of health benefits for our bodies—but can it help cover our protein needs, too? Read on to discover some of the best high-protein fruits to add to your daily menu, and to learn how they stack up against other muscle-building foods.

Is Fruit a Good Source of Protein?

Admittedly, most other food groups are higher in protein than fruit. Compared to high-protein grains, buff plant-based proteins, amino acid-rich animal proteins, and dairy products, fruit pales in comparison in terms of its protein content. 

“The amount of protein in fruit is pretty low, so we wouldn’t be consuming fruit to meet our protein requirements,” says Vanessa Rissetto, RD, a registered dietitian and CEO of Culina Health. Still, fruit “certainly does offer some of this macronutrient, just not in quantities comparable to a Greek yogurt, one of my go-tos, or other high-protein foods, like chicken, meat, or fish,” Shaw adds.

In general, calories in fruit typically come from nearly 100 percent carbohydrate, and most fruit contains no protein at all, explains Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist, founder of Nutrition Starring YOU, and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook

The high-protein fruits highlighted below clock in between 1 and 4 grams per serving, with an average of about 2 grams per serving—and this is for fruits on the highest end of the protein spectrum. To put this into context, here’s a rough breakdown of average protein content per food group, according to Harris-Pincus:

  • 1 serving of vegetables = 2 grams of protein

  • 1 serving of grains = 3 grams of protein

  • 1 cup of dairy milk and soy milk = 8 grams of protein

  • 1 ounce of cheese = 7 grams of protein

  • ½ cup beans = 7–9 grams of protein

  • ¼ block extra-firm tofu = 10 grams of protein

  • 1 ounce of meat, poultry, or seafood = 7 grams of protein

With all that in mind, fruit can still be an important component of a high-protein diet, delivering a bit of protein along with a solid dose of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and energy-boosting carbs—all of which you need to fuel a healthy, active lifestyle.

What Counts as a High-Protein Fruit?

Relatively high-protein fruits offer about 1–4 grams of protein per serving. While those amounts are notable compared to other fruits that contain no protein at all, it’s important to remember that their “high protein” superlative is relative. To technically be considered “high” in, “rich in,” or an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), a food must contain at least 20 percent of the daily value (DV) or reference daily intake (RDI) of that nutrient.

Protein needs vary by biological sex, age, activity level, and other factors, but the general minimum recommendation is 50 grams of protein per day. For active adults who are aiming for muscle growth, the protein bar is set much higher. If you want to maintain and build muscle, experts say your protein intake would ideally increase—about 1.4– 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day, which is about 150 grams a day for a 150-pound person.

“If a food has 10 grams of protein, in some cases, it may qualify as a ‘high-protein’ food,” Shaw says. “However, most nutrition authorities prefer to calculate protein needs individually to figure out what their client’s target protein needs are, and will adjust high-protein foods accordingly.”

Regardless of your personal nutrition goals, no fruits officially qualify as “high-protein” choices per those FDA standards. That being said, the fruits listed below are among the highest-protein options available and can help you sneak in a tiny bit more of the macro into your daily diet.

6 of the Best High-Protein Fruits 

When enjoyed in tandem with other protein-rich foods, the following fruits high in protein are strong additions to your menu. We’ve listed them in order of most to least protein based on typical serving sizes and nutrition estimates from the US Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central nutrition database.

1. Guava

A half-cut guava fruit sitting on top of other guava fruits. Guava is a high-protein fruit.

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Protein per 1 cup: 4 grams

If we could award a gold medal to the best high-protein fruit, it would go to this tropical treat.

“One cup of guava contains the same amount of protein as an egg white,” Harris-Pincus says, “plus it’s an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber.”

For the biggest fiber boost, leave the skin on and feel free to eat the seeds scattered throughout; it’s all edible. Enjoy guava diced on its own, toss it into a fruit salad, or build a parfait with yogurt and granola or nuts for a protein-packed breakfast or snack.

2. Jackfruit

A wooden basket filled with ripe peeled jackfruit, which is a high-protein fruit.

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Protein per 1 cup sliced: 3 grams

While jackfruit can’t go toe-to-toe with the protein content of what it’s often used as a substitute for—pulled pork or chicken—it’s still a fairly decent source of protein at about 2½ grams per cup. You can invest in a whole jackfruit, but for the easier and quicker solution (breaking down the whole fruit takes elbow grease), seek out canned jackfruit. 

“This still isn’t a high source [of protein], but if you serve jackfruit mixed with some lentils, it can really shine,” Shaw says. “Add your favorite barbecue sauce for a fun twist on a ‘meaty’ barbecue sandwich,” or toss a mix of jackfruit and lentils or beans with taco seasoning and tuck that inside of tortillas.

3. Blackberries

A white bowl of blackberries (which are high-protein fruits) sitting on a table.

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Protein per 1 cup: 2 grams

“Packed with antioxidants, blackberries are one of the highest-fiber fruits with 8 grams per cup,” Harris-Pincus says, which, for women and men respectively, gets you about one-third to one-quarter of the way to your daily fiber goals. Blackberries are also the highest-protein berry, clocking in at just over 2 grams per cup.

Savor blackberries on their own, incorporated into a fruit salad, or showered over a bowl of oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt. Or stock up on a frozen berry blend to add to smoothies made with a handful of spinach, nut butter, and yogurt, soy milk, or cow’s milk for a bonus protein boost.

4. Kiwi

A close-up photo of sliced kiwi, which is a high-protein fruit.

ASMR / E+ via Getty Images

Protein per 1 cup: 2 grams

Delivering sweet-tart flavor, a couple grams of protein, a good amount of immunity-supporting vitamin C, and fiber, kiwis are the high-protein fruit for you if you struggle to stay regular. “Eating two kiwis per day has been shown to help treat constipation,” Harris-Pincus says.

Kiwis are stellar sliced or diced and enjoyed as-is or in fruit salads. Or, finely dice the fruit and toss it with diced peppers, onions, and cilantro for a quick and colorful fruit salsa. Its tanginess also shines in smoothies and cocktails, Harris-Pincus adds.

5. Pomegranate Seeds

Close-up view of a cut-open pomegranate with its seeds (which are high-protein fruits) spilling out.

jayk7 / Moment via Getty Images

Protein per ½ cup arils (aka seeds): 1.5 grams

With 1.5 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber, pomegranate seeds are small but mighty. Their punchy ruby-red hue is courtesy of the powerful antioxidants they contain, Shaw notes. (We see you, inflammation-fighting polyphenols!)

Their pop of color, sweet-tart flavor, and refreshing crunchy quality make pomegranate seeds a welcome addition to sweet and savory dishes alike. Try them in smoothie bowls, overnight or regular oats, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, grain bowls, guacamole, or salads. For a colorful and nutrition-packed side dish, toss pomegranate seeds with roasted Brussels sprouts and roasted butternut squash, plus a handful each of toasted pecans and goat cheese.

6. Avocado

An avocado (which is a high-protein fruit) sliced in half with both halves facing upright.

Tanja Ivanova / Moment via Getty Images

Protein per ½ medium: 1.5 grams

Although sometimes thought of as a vegetable since it walks on the savory side, avocado is technically a fruit, Harris-Pincus says. It’s a “health goddess,” at that, Shaw says, delivering a bit of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats in one.

This high-protein fruit is also a terrific team player: “When adding avocado to a salad or other low-fat foods, we absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, including carotenoids and vitamins A, D, E, and K,” Harris-Pincus says.

Avocado toast is always an excellent option, but the options don’t stop there. Stuff an avocado half with a whole-grain salad or cottage cheese and your favorite seasoning blend, feature it in guacamole or other dips, blitz it into a smoothie, or slice or smash it to serve it on tacos, sandwiches, or as part of salads or grain bowls.

Benefits of Consuming Fruits High in Protein

Remember, “even the highest-protein fruits do not contribute a meaningful amount to the diet,” Harris-Pincus says. “A couple extra grams will not make a significant difference for muscle building. It’s more important to consume a variety of fruit and veggies along with both plant- and animal-based protein-rich foods to meet overall nutrient needs.”

That said, eating more of these relatively high-protein fruits will help you:

  • Increase your intake of several health-boosting nutrients. Prioritizing an extra serving or two of these decently high-protein fruits—or any fruits—will add vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber to your daily tally. “Fruit contributes to an overall healthy diet that can help prevent the development of lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer,” Harris-Pincus says.

  • Feed your gut. Variety is key to keeping taste buds satisfied and supporting gut health, which, in turn, may aid in digestion, decrease the risk for several chronic diseases, bolster the immune system, and possibly support a brighter mood. Research suggests that individuals who eat 30 different plants or more per week (which could include the high-protein fruits mentioned above) have noticeably healthier microbiomes than those who consume 10 or fewer.

  • Score antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. “Eating fruits that offer a bit more protein, in combination with other plant-forward protein sources, offers more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds for your body,” Shaw says. Given the stress the body undergoes while trying to build muscle, it’s important to consume foods that help mitigate inflammation

  • Start rebuilding muscle. Protein helps repair muscle, which is essential if you’re regularly pushing yourself on a run, ride, row, or in the weight room. To maximize muscle regeneration and growth, “you will need complete sources of protein though, so be sure to pair that fruit with a source that’s rich in all of the essential amino acids, like pistachios, yogurt, or animal protein,” Shaw says.

Tips for Adding More High-Protein Fruits to Your Diet

It can be easy—and tasty—to incorporate more of these relatively high-protein fruits into your meal plan. Try these tips:

  • Focus on power couples. It’s wise to opt for a snack that includes a source of produce (a fruit or vegetable) and protein (like a cheese stick, handful of nuts, or yogurt), since “protein and fiber are a powerful combo to help stave off hunger while providing essential nutrients your body requires,” Harris-Pincus says. The three dietitians we spoke to agree that shelled pistachios, almonds, or mixed nuts, plus your fruit of choice (such as pomegranate seeds, blackberries, or diced guava) make for a great snack.

  • Blend fruit into a post-workout smoothie or shake. If a protein shake or smoothie is your go-to after a tough workout, Shaw suggests amping up the protein by tossing in a handful of frozen blackberries or guava. “It’s a great way to add more fiber and nutrients, too,” she says.

  • Double dip. To amplify the benefits of these relatively high-protein fruits, consider pairing two together. For example, Harris-Pincus loves to sprinkle pomegranate seeds or halved blackberries on top of avocado toast. Or top your jackfruit tacos with a few slices of avocado or a spoonful of kiwi fruit salsa.

  • Prioritize plants of all kinds. When you’re striving to eat more protein, Shaw coaches her clients to think beyond meat. “Plant-based proteins, like lentils, beans, and pulses, offer a double whammy when it comes to meeting your protein needs. Not only do they count as a protein source, but they are also a vegetable too,” she says. “Pair them with your favorite fruits, like avocado, over a slice of whole grain bread for a protein punch.”

  • Make savvy swaps. If a PB&J (or nut butter sandwich or toast) is a pre-workout snack or lunch staple of yours, skip the jelly and try sliced or smashed blackberries instead, Shaw suggests.

The Takeaway

“Fruits are always a wonderful addition to the diet,” Shaw says. But if prioritizing protein is your goal, it’s worth noting that “even fruits with the highest protein content only contain a few grams, which won’t make a significant contribution to overall protein intake,” Harris-Pincus says. “Enjoy fruit for its fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and deliciousness, not for its protein content.”

That said, fruits like guava, jackfruit, blackberries, and kiwi do offer a little bit of protein, making them relatively high-protein fruits compared to other picks that contain no protein at all. You can still reach your target protein intake with fruit tagging along for the ride, whether that’s by adding higher-protein fruits to your daily diet or by pairing any fruit with another great protein source. 

If you’re unsure of how much protein to consume or would like some additional guidance about how to tailor your meal plan to your specific needs and goals, speak with a registered dietitian for personalized advice.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute individualized advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician for questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. If you are having a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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