Here's How We Extract Proteins From Pretty Weird Sources
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You’ve heard of the expression "diamonds in the rough," haven’t you? The same is true for meeting your daily protein requirements. Although we tend to think of conventional sources like meat and tofu as our protein sources, there are plenty of somewhat unconventional sources of protein that can not only give you the good stuff you need but also change up your diet in interesting ways. In part one, we spoke of crickets, earthworms, and algae as potential sources of excellent protein while also being sustainable sources of protein. Here are a few more options that, while unconventional, are still among the best sources of protein.


Vegetarians and vegans are known to be deficient in many nutrients, and nutritional yeast is a great way to fill in those gaps. Additionally, it is free of gluten, soy, and sugar, so it can be consumed by those with food sensitivities. Nonetheless, studies have demonstrated that its nutritional value can be beneficial to all types of diets.

These flakes, created with a yeast variety similar to those used for brewing and baking, are inactivated during the production process. Although plentiful in nutrients, most nutritional yeast products available in stores today are further enriched with vitamins. You can find it at health food stores and most grocery stores. With its cheesy and nutty flavor, it can be sprinkled on just about any food item to boost its protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant content.


Gooseneck barnacles, in particular, are a great protein source. They also look dangerously like dinosaur toes. Europeans refer to barnacles as percebes, and they are valuable in Spain and Portugal. Poor economic conditions lead fishermen from Galicia, Spain, to the Costa de la Muerte or "Coast of Death." This name is indicative of the danger in the area, as numerous men have perished in the treacherous waters while attempting to extract these prized items from the waterline. They are a great delicacy among connoisseurs, and add to that, they are a great protein source as well!


The wheat berry is made up of three parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm, which is the kernel before it undergoes any processing. The bran is the outer layer, which is filled with essential vitamins and dietary fiber. The germ is the core of the kernel and contains vitamin E and healthy fatty acids. The endosperm is the middle layer that is loaded with proteins and carbs, which provide energy. Furthermore, wheat berries have a low glycemic index (GI), which means they do not significantly raise blood sugar levels. The GI of wheat berries is approximately 30. The GI ranges up to 100, with foods under 55 considered low GI. Several studies show that consuming low-GI foods helps regulate blood sugar levels and insulin secretion. As a result, it helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.


Hemp seeds are packed with essential nutrients and are classified as a nut. They can be consumed raw or processed into milk, oil, cheese substitutes, and protein powder. Unlike marijuana, hemp seeds have only a trace amount of the psychoactive compound THC. Over the centuries, the seeds have been used for medicinal purposes, and recent studies are beginning to confirm the efficacy of their healing properties. Additionally, their nutty taste and wide range of uses make them a great source of protein, essential fatty acids, and other nutritional advantages that are usually derived from animal products. They also contain all the essential amino acids, making them an excellent alternative for vegetarians who are looking for plant-based sources of protein.


Octopus is a healthy source of lean protein that is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates but high in amino acids (and thus protein), trace minerals, and micronutrients like vitamins. It is a lean protein whose single serving packs 25 grams of protein and only 140 calories. In addition to this, octopus is also a great source of polyunsaturated fats. So, if you feel adventurous, skip the tuna and the halibut and go for the octopus.

In addition to these somewhat odd sources of protein, there are, of course, many other not-so-odd sources of protein that you can incorporate into your diet. Laverbread, which is bread made out of seaweed, is a rather rich source. As are quinoa, chia seeds, tempeh, brussels sprouts, artichoke hearts, edamame, broccoli, kefir, and seitan, which is a vegetarian meat substitute.

So, if you want to get yourselves all proteined up and think meat is the only way to go, think again. For there is so much more to eat!