Best Sources of Protein: And the Winners Are…
Bad news for all you steak lovers out there, red meat is not the winner when it comes to the best sources of dietary protein. Don’t get me wrong, it supplies a notable amount of protein, but it simply comes with too much baggage. The fat and cholesterol that are found in red meat make it a source that should be indulged in once in a while, and even then, it is best to select small portions and trims that are lowest in fat.
So what makes a protein a good choice or a poor choice? Isn’t protein, protein? Yes it is. It’s not so much about the protein, but what comes along with the protein in your food choices. Good sources of protein not only supply protein, but they are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals as well. Equally important, they are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Top 5 Best Protein Sources:
1. Poultry: Because it is an animal source, poultry provides a complete protein which means it has all the essential amino acids. Consuming low fat sources like chicken and turkey provides high quality protein and essential amino acids.
2. Seafood: Fish offer a wealth of vitamins and minerals and are very low in saturated fat and calories. They also provide essential omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for nerve and brain health and development. Below are some additional great protein sources other than meat.
3. Legumes and Nuts: These provide the main source of plant-based proteins. Plant based proteins are incomplete proteins, meaning that they don’t provide all of the essential amino acids. However, by combining certain incomplete proteins within a few hours of each other, complete protein status can be achieved. They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fats, which are good for your heart.
4. Egg whites: Whole eggs, while an excellent source of protein, are high in the bad cholesterol (LDL). Egg whites are naturally cholesterol free. According the American Heart Association, they are a good source of protein by themselves. They are also one of the best lean protein sources you can find.
5. Milk Products/Whey Protein: Dairy products such as low-fat milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt are a good source of complete proteins and are a great source of calcium which is important for bone development, bone strength, and prevention of osteoporosis. Whey protein is a high quality, complete protein and actually exceeds the requirement for essential amino acids needed for overall body health, maintenance, and growth. It has a fast digestion and absorption rate and has immune system benefits and antioxidant properties as well.
Although protein is essential to every function in our bodies, it is still important to evaluate the baggage that comes with each selection. Have your steak every once in a while, if it makes you happy, but in the end, your body will thank you if you primarily stick to selections that can give you the extra nutritional perks in addition to the protein.
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