Being Smart With Your Protein Choices
Not all protein is the same. Some are good for our bodies, some are not. In general, protein is necessary for building strong bones and muscles. We need to eat and provide our bodies with protein daily, since the body can’t store protein.
What is considered a “bad” protein is one that has high saturated fats content. Eating “bad” protein can cause increased cholesterol levels, which in turn increases your risk for heart disease. The average adult consumes about 40 to 65 grams of protein per day. That quantity is already greater than what a person needs, but, unfortunately, not enough of “good” protein is actually consumed. We need to be smarter in making choices as to which type of protein we are to eat.
What are the Different Sources of Protein?
Where do you usually get your protein? Like most people, you probably avail of the following sources:
Meats, such as steak, salami and chicken with skin, are high in protein and provide enough protein to satisfy the daily dietary requirement. However, they contain a lot of saturated fat as well. Eating a 6 oz steak, for example, not only provides most of the protein you need for the day, but also 75 percent of your saturated fat intake. This doesn’t mean that you need to give up steak, though, you just have to moderate your intake to 1 to 2 times a week..
Lean meats are the better choice for meat eaters, because they provide the needed protein with less fat particularly saturated fat. Eating lean meats, such as turkey, chicken, fish and lean beef, helps to avoid high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Soy proteins are a good alternative source of protein with less saturated fats. You can look for edamame or baby soybeans in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. This can be boiled and salted or used as an added ingredient in Chinese or Japanese dishes. You can also try vegetarian meat alternatives like veggie burger and soy nuggets.
Beans, Nuts and Legumes
Beans, nuts and legumes are good sources of protein with low saturated fats content. These may be included in salads or dips, spicy vegetarian chili and stews. There’s a wide selection from this group of protein source, including chickpeas, garbanzos, dried peas and nuts.
Dairy products also provide quality protein, but they have high saturated fat content. A good option is to buy the low-fat dairy products, such as cottage cheese, ricotta cheese and Greek-style yogurt.
Aside from knowing which protein is a better choice, it is advisable to plan meals. By planning, you can avoid having too much of one type of protein and substituting it for another type.
Remember, you can get the same quantity of protein from different protein sources, but when they come with high saturated fat, you are at risk of having high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. The heart healthy option is to consume more of lean cuts of meat and protein from plant sources.
Photo credits: United Soybean Board via Flickr, CC by 2.0