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Protein

My Plate Message:  Go Lean with Protein

When most people think of protein, they think of animal sources of protein in the form of meat including pork, chicken, hamburger, steak, fish and eggs. While foods from animal sources are a good source of protein, many people forget about plant sources of protein.

Many Americans do get enough protein in their diet. But here are few easy ways to incorporate lean protein throughout the day. Make an egg white omelet or sprinkle walnuts on your oatmeal. Make a sandwich with a protein source such as egg or tuna salad, peanut butter, or sliced lean meat. Add cooked eggs, tuna, nuts, or lean meat to a salad. Serve a variety of bean dishes like chili, bean salads, refried beans, or red beans and rice.  Choose nuts, peanut butter, jerky, or a hard-cooked egg. Nuts are high in calories so eat them sparingly.

How many ounces of protein should you try to eat each day?

 

Age

Recommended Amount

Children

2-3

4-8

2 ounce equivalents

4 ounce equivalents

Girls

9-13

14-18

5 ounce equivalents

5 ounce equivalents

Boys

9-13

14-18

5 ounce equivalents

6 ½ ounce equivalents

Women

18-30

31-50

51+

5 ½ ounce equivalents

5 ounce equivalents

5 ounce equivalents

Men

18-30

31-50

51+

6 ½ ounce equivalents

6 ounce equivalents

5 ½ ounce equivalents

How much protein do common portions of food have?

Food

Quantity

1 small lean hamburgers

2-3 ounces

1 can of tuna drained

3-4 ounces

1 hard boiled egg

1 ounce

12 almonds

1 ounce

7 walnut halves

1 ounce

¼ cup cooked black, kidney, pinto, or white beans

 

1 ounce

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 ounce

¼ cup tofu

1 ounce

2 tablespoons hummus

1 ounce.

**For more food items visit choosemyplate.gov

 

 

Health Benefits of eating lean protein:

Lean animal protein sources are not only a good source of protein, but also contain another essential mineral, iron. The protein in these foods is important for the growth and repair of tissue throughout the body.  The function of iron in the body is to carry oxygen throughout the body as part of your red blood cells. It also helps build a strong immune system. Not getting enough iron may be the most common nutritional deficiency in the US.

Most people don’t associate fiber with protein, but vegetable sources of protein, including beans, nuts, and fiber are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber is not digested in our digestive tract, but collects moisture as it moves through the digestive tract. Getting enough fiber makes it easier to avoid constipation.

What’s the difference between complete and incomplete proteins?

Complete Protein: Animal sources of protein. These proteins contain all of the essential protein building blocks called amino acids that your body needs to grow and maintain tissue.

Incomplete: Plant sources of protein. These proteins are missing one or more amino acids; not all of the building blocks are there. Just because a source of protein is considered “incomplete,” it doesn’t mean that it should be excluded from the diet. If you team up two incomplete protein sources, they make a complete protein.

Pairing rice and beans together, two incomplete proteins, makes a complete protein source. You could even pair an incomplete protein with a little complete protein to provide your body what it needs.  And don’t worry, you don’t have to eat the two incomplete proteins at the same time for them to work in the body. If you eat rice for breakfast and beans for lunch it all works out in the body.

Try these Food $ense recipes to increase your intake of lean proteins:

Breakfast Burrito

Oatmeal Nut Pancakes

Tuna Bean Salad Spread

Black Beans and Rice

Bean and Pasta Salad

Monkey Roll-Up

Bean Dip

BBQ Pork

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

 

Resource Box

 

What Counts as an ounce of protein

Go lean with protein

Choosemyplate.gov

Fruit Group

Vegetable Group

Grain Group

Dairy Group