Lean On Protein: Better Choices for Better Health
Protein is an important building block for bones, muscle, cartilage, skin and more. And it's easy to incorporate lean protein choices into your diet and your family's meals. Lean protein foods are generally lower in cholesterol, saturated fats, calories, and higher in dietary fiber and vitamins. They've also been shown to reduce risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease, according to Chrissy Arsenault, a registered dietitian at Franciscan Health.
What's more, many lean protein options are easy on the budget.
"Simply put, you get the most bang for your buck with this list," said Arsenault. Here's why:
- Eggs: One whole egg provides six grams of protein. While egg yolks were once thought to significantly raise blood cholesterol, that myth has been debunked. Feel free to incorporate eggs into your meals morning, noon or evening.
- Chicken breast: A three-ounce serving - about the size of your palm - provides 21 grams of protein. Make sure to remove the skin before or after cooking to reduce the fat in your meal. When preparing, experiment with different seasonings and low-sodium condiments, like dill and Dijon mustard, for flavor.
- Nuts and seeds: Each ounce (1/4 cup) provides about seven grams of protein. Nuts contain healthy fats as well, but don't go overboard in your enjoyment of them. Make your own trail mix from two or three varieties.
- Greek yogurt: A six-ounce serving provides 17 grams of protein. Try plain, unsweetened varieties and add your own honey, low-fat granola or chopped nuts and dried fruit.
How Much Protein Do We Need?
If you enjoy a healthy, balanced diet, chances are you're getting enough protein. On average, men need about 56 grams a day, and women should aim for 46. So, that three-ounce chicken breast may represent about half of most people's daily protein need. Your ideal protein intake may be lower or higher, depending on your activity level and weight.
There are no advantages, however, to "bulking up" on your daily protein intake, cautions Arsenault. "Too much protein will be converted and stored as fat in your body - you have been warned!" she said.
For more information about Franciscan Health’s nutritional counseling services, visit FranciscanHealth.org/nutritionalcounseling.