How Much Protein You Get From Chicken, Eggs, And 6 Other Top Sources: An Omnivore's Guide
Sometimes maintaining a healthy diet can seem so complicated: eat too much meat, and we may be at risk for high cholesterol. Don’t eat enough meat, and we may wind up deficient in protein — one of the most essential macronutrients in our daily diets! So what’s a health-conscious omnivore to do when the USDA advises us to cut back on foods “high in solid fats” (like meat)?
Protein helps our bodies build bone, muscle, cartilage, skin and blood, as well as enzymes, hormones and vitamins, so we can’t get away with ignoring its importance to our health. But there is a way to both trim meat from our diets while making sure that protein doesn’t fall by the wayside.
Here are eight sources of protein and the facts you need to know about each. Use this guide to plan your meals, portion sizes and overall protein-packed lifestyle from here on out!
On average, beef and poultry are some of the densest sources of protein in an omnivore's diet. Beef sirloin, with all fat removed, supplies between 8 and 9 grams of protein per ounce. That's true for a boneless, skinless chicken breast, too. Just remember that a single serving is only three ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards, so watch your portions (download our handy <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/healthy-living/food/healthy-eating/articles/portion-size-pocket-guide?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_hplink">Portion Size Pocket Guide</a> for a quick reference on the go) Also look for nitrate-free meat that was raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones.
Fish supplies between 6 to 8 grams of protein per ounce. And some, like salmon, also contain beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. Just be sure to choose fish that's lower on the food chain, such as sardines and herrings, to <a href="http://www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/product-specificinformation/seafood/foodbornepathogenscontaminants/methylmercury/ucm115662.htm" target="_hplink">reduce your risk of mercury contamination</a>. Also check out these <a href="http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_recommendations.aspx?c=ln" target="_hplink">recommendations to find seafood that comes from sustainable sources</a>.
<a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/healthy-living/food/nutrition/articles/all-about-eggs?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_hplink">Eggs</a> are a small but mighty way to add the power of protein to your diet -- each large egg contains about 6 grams of it. Whether you scramble them, fry them, poach them, or make them into an <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/healthified-provencal-omelet/39f8da3b-6142-488d-8d15-64da53650d47?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_hplink">omelet</a>, <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/healthified-veggie-frittata/0fc82b3d-7728-40a6-8cc8-478be70936f0?src=SH?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_hplink">frittata</a> or <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/healthified-spinach-and-cheese-quiche/7b78175d-4539-4f8a-86fd-6b8c03d0c59f?src=SH?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_hplink">quiche</a>, the egg got its "incredible edible" title for being delicious and nutritious.
The dynamic duo of protein plus calcium makes dairy an important contributor to good health. But one dairy product, in particular, stands out: Greek Yogurt has twice the protein of regular yogurt and zero grams of fat, which is hard to believe when you put a spoonful of that thick, creamy goodness into your mouth.
Beans And Legumes
The vegetarian's go-to protein source can be enjoyed by omnivores, too. But perhaps the best thing about beans is their ability to multi-task; every protein-rich serving also packs a powerful punch of <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/healthy-living/food/healthy-eating/articles/all-about-fiber?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_hplink">fiber</a> (black beans provide about 3 grams per ounce of each). In comparison, meat is so one-dimensional, isn't it?
Nuts And Seeds
Nuts and seeds are similar to beans and legumes in their ability to combine protein with fiber. (Good examples are almonds and sunflower seeds; each has approximately 5 to 7 grams of protein and 2 to 3 grams of fiber per ounce.) But these crunchy nuggets win the award for being most portable, which makes them the easiest snacking food on the list.
Although there's some controversy about the health benefits of <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/healthy-living/food/healthy-eating/articles/soy-easy?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_hplink">soy</a>, it's the only plant-based food that contains all essential amino acids: the building blocks of protein we need to be healthy. And one ½ cup serving of cooked soybeans, otherwise known as edamame, provides 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. So if soy is right for you, try including some in your mix of protein-providing foods.
Are you trying to eat less meat? How do you make sure you’re getting enough protein? Share your story with other Live Better America readers in the comments.