We All Need Protein

What does it do for us?

We all need protein. It provides nutrients and energy and builds, maintains, and repairs the tissues in our body. Most Americans eat enough – but it is important to eat a variety of protein foods each week to improve nutrient intake and health benefits.

What should I choose?

Protein foods include both animal (meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs) and plant (beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soy products) sources. Select lean cuts of meat such as round or sirloin and leaner choices of ground beef or turkey. Eggs can be included in your weekly menu as an inexpensive protein option.

How much do I need?

The Dietary Guidelines for American 2020-2025 recommends eating seafood twice a week. Add fatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel to meals as they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health. You can also keep canned tuna or salmon on hand as they are convenient and easy to prepare. When cooking, trim or drain fat from meat, remove poultry skin and avoid breading. Try different healthy cooking methods such as grilling, roasting or baking.

How can I add it to my dishes?

Experiment with recipes that include beans (black, pinto, kidney or white beans), peas (split peas, chickpeas), lentils, nuts, and soy products each week. Make chili with kidney or black beans or try a split pea soup. You can also choose unsalted nuts and seeds as a snack, on salads or desserts. Keep in mind they are a concentrated source of calories, so eat small portions to keep calories in check.

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