10 April 2009

Experiencing The Many Faces of Protein

We are generally true carnivores with a varied and long list of meat preferences. Some of our choices are as 'Plain Jane' as chicken to as eclectic as bugs in some parts of the world. The general consensus is that protein isn't protein unless it's a nice hunk of meat--Bones, connective tissue and all. It's not so uncommon that a protein packed meal like four-cheese mac and cheese and milk could be before us . Yet still, like the three little ladies from that famous 80's Wendy's commercial we would probably be wondering where the beef went or perhaps the chicken or pork! And there's nothing wrong with that.

But being more open to the many protein choices in our diet could be a good thing to consider. For those for whom weight management is a priority, giving yourself permission to use alternate leaner protein sources, could also be helpful.
Protein can be found in a variety of foods.

• Beans are a great source. One cup contains anywhere from 14-20 g of protein depending on the type of bean. Beans are also a great source of fiber.

• Nuts are a good alternative too although they do contain increased fat, but this is the good mono & polyunsaturated fats vs. saturated fats. An ounce at a time is sufficient.This is approximately the size of a golf ball. Consuming 1oz snack-size quantities of nuts is important in curbing the fat and calorie content which can quickly add up.

• Meatless soy-based protein alternatives which not only contain comparable protein quantities as their meat counterparts, but have considerably less fat. These include tofu, ‘meatless’ burgers, sausages, hot dogs etc.

• Reduced fat milk and dairy products are also great sources of protein. Milk contains 8 g of protein per cup and yogurt about the same and more if milk solids are added. Egg whites are also a protein rich option.

• Fish is a often overlooked in the diet. However it is not only a superior protein source, but also contains heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.

• Did anyone say PB & J sandwich? Well if you did then you are getting a valuable source of protein, 8 g per 2 tablespoon peanut butter to be exact.

• There's more to meat than chicken, beef or pork. Mix it up a bit. Lamb, Goat, and even Buffalo are some of the other wonderful choices out there.

Where protein is concerned, there are many options in general, and multiple ways to incorporate leaner sources in the diet. Living a more healthful life starts at looking at food differently. Great selection and variety are at the core of this greater outlook; not deprivation or the same boring, 1 or 2 protein selections at each meal.


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