Picking Healthy Protein

by The Cooperative
Protein foods are one of the main food groups. Many of us know that it builds muscle and is typically located in the grocery store’s meat section. However, proteins go well beyond your typical T-bone. The protein food group comprises meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, and peas. Choosing the right protein will ensure a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet.
The Power of Protein
Proteins are key to building our cells, tissues, hormones, and enzymes. Not only do they repair muscles, bones, cartilage, and skin, but they also flood the body with essential nutrients. Collectively, proteins play a vital role in what makes us function as humans.  
Love Your Lean Protein
Why should we select lean protein? Lean protein options are low in saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium, which decreases the risk of heart disease and obesity. During your next grocery trip, aim for the following protein choices:
  • Skinless chicken or turkey
  • Eggs
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Plant-based proteins such as beans and peas
Limit Red and Processed Meats
Consuming more than 3 servings of red meat such as beef, beef sausage, beef jerky, veal, pork, bacon, ham, venison, lamb, goat, salami, and hot dogs increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and colorectal cancer.
Planning Your Proteins
Consuming various protein sources, mainly plant-based alternatives will ensure you receive a wide range of nutrients for optimal functioning. For example, beans and peas are rich in fiber, folate, and potassium.  
Lean meats such as seafood provide the body with omega-3 fatty acids, which support cognitive function and digestion. Even specific types of seafood, such as salmon and trout, are naturally high in Vitamin D, which is rarely acquired from food.
The daily protein requirement depends on age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level. However, the general recommendation for adults is highlighted in the table below:
 If you’re having trouble visualizing, the following guide can be used to measure one serving:
  • 3 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish (the size of a deck of cards)
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup cooked beans
Protein choices should not be limited to red meat. Exploring plant-based or lean meat dishes can expand your palate and fuel your body with the required nutrients. Your takeaway message? Food is the most powerful form of medicine.
By, Coach Kaleigh

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