What are Healthy Protein Food Sources?
Protein is found throughout our bodies in bones, muscle, hair, skin and other tissues. It is important to ensure you consume enough protein in your diet. The recommendation for an average sedentary adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, this number can be affected by several factors including age, BMI and other health conditions. It isn’t hard to reach this goal since protein can be found in many different foods.
Meat is the most well-known and typically richest source of protein. Aim for lean meats such as chicken, turkey or lean red meat. For example, a 3.5 ounce chicken breast contains 31 grams of protein, and 3.5 ounce turkey breast contains 29 grams of protein. Also, a 4 ounce serving of lean ground beef, such as a hamburger patty, contains 16 grams of protein.
Fish and certain shellfish, such as shrimp, are also lean sources of protein. Several types of fish are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation and support heart health. Fatty fish that are high in omega-3s are salmon, mackerel and sardines. A 3.5 ounce piece of salmon contains 20 grams of protein, and a 3.5 ounce serving of shrimp contains 24 grams of protein.
Dairy is another good source of protein. It also contains several vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D, which support bone health. Try low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat milk (2% or less), Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and reduced-fat cheeses. For example, 1 cup of milk contains 8 grams of protein, and a ¾ cup serving of Greek yogurt can contain between 10 to 15 grams of protein.
Eggs are also a good source of protein. One egg contains 6 grams of protein.
It is important not to forget about plant sources of protein as well.
Beans and lentils are great sources of protein as well as fiber. A half-cup of most types of beans and lentils contains 7 to 10 grams of protein.
Nuts and seeds are another great source of plant-based protein. One ounce of nuts or seeds contains between 5 to 8 grams of protein. They are also a great source of healthy fats. Try them in nut or seed butter form, such as peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter.
Eat one of these plant-based proteins with a whole grain, such as pasta, toast or rice, to get a complete source of protein!
Meat alternatives are another good protein option. Be careful when choosing meat alternatives/substitutes though, as many are heavily processed. Tofu and tempeh are generally easy to find minimally processed. Tofu is made from soy milk and tempeh is made from soybeans. Tofu can be either silken, firm or extra-firm. It acts like a sponge and can take on the flavor of whatever spices and other foods it is cooked with. A 3.5 ounce serving of tofu has 8 grams of protein, and 3.5 ounce serving of tempeh contain 19 grams of protein.
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