• Choosing the Right Protein Source

    Until recently, protein was just a silent observer in the macronutrient game. Overshadowed by big brothers fats and carbohydrates that grabbed attention from health enthusiasts, proteins would show up only in RDA recommendations or in an athlete’s regime. The trend is changing.

    Triggered by the popularity of high protein weight loss diets and a boom in the nutritional supplement market, proteins are finally receiving a lot of attention - and with good reason. Proteins are the building blocks of life. The body needs protein to repair and maintain itself. That said, it’s important to eat the right amount and kind of protein to get the health benefits. While getting enough protein might not be a concern among Americans, being able to select the right kind is still a struggle.


    Top 10 Protein Sources

    • Eggs: Eggs qualify as inexpensive and amazing source of complete proteins. One large egg contains approx 6 gm of protein; and if you want to cut the 2g saturated fat which comes with it, leave the yolk and go for the egg whites only.  Eggs also contain B vitamins, selenium, zinc, iron, and vitamin A and D. Studies highlight that the fair levels of cholesterol present in eggs are less harmful to the body, in comparison to the saturated and trans fat present in processed foods.

    • Fish: The fact that seafood is healthy is no brainer. Low in saturated fats and high in omega 3 fatty acids (heart healthy EPA and DHAs), fish is an excellent source of lean protein. Whether you go for sushi grade tuna or grilled salmon, don’t forget to eat fist at least twice a week.

    • Almonds: Loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats, calcium, folic acid, vitamin E, and proteins, almonds are a great source of energy. Munch these versatile nuts as snack, with salads, or in stir fry veggies. When it comes to nuts, raw is best.

    • Oats: This breakfast friend happens to be one of the richest protein sources among grains. Abundant in dietary fiber (which help to lower cholesterol levels), amino acid glutamic acid, leucine (boosts metabolism), and a range of vitamins, oats deliver a nutrition packed cereal. Experts point that the lesser processed oat, such as steel cut and oat groats have higher protein content than the rolled oats.

    • Beans: According to WebMD, “More than just a meat substitute, beans are so nutritious that the latest dietary guidelines recommend we triple our current intake from 1 to 3 cups per week." High in fiber, minerals, and antioxidants, these protein rich foods are good for weight loss and help prevent diabetes, heart diseases, and even cancer.

    • Quinoa: Truly a nutrient powerhouse, quinoa provides fiber, antioxidants, MUFA, vitamin E, and proteins. Unlike most grains which lack lysine and isoleucine amino acids, quinoa boasts of a significantly high content of lysine and is often considered as a complete vegetarian protein source.

    • Cottage Cheese: High in protein and calcium and low in fat and calories, cottage cheese is much more than a ‘diet food.’ A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that the casein present in cottage cheese delivers improved satiety and curbs binging tendencies.

    • Greek Yogurt: A great source of lean protein, creamy Greek yogurt also works well as a probiotic to enhance digestive health. USDA lists yogurt as highly beneficial in preventing high blood pressure (due to its potassium content) and building strong bones and teeth (owed to its calcium content). Greek yogurt is also higher in protein and lower in sodium and fat content than conventional yogurts.

    • Pumpkin Seeds: Arm your body with vitamin B, D, and K, proteins, magnesium, calcium, and essential fatty acids by eating raw or toasted pumpkin seeds.

    • Soy: This list would be incomplete without the mention of delicious and nutritious soybean. According to National Institute of Health, “soy protein products offer a multitude of benefits which include improved diet and cardiovascular status, obesity prevention/control, post menopausal symptom relief, and prevention of certain cancers.”

    Protein Sources on the Go

    When rushing out for work or looking for a protein loaded mid-evening snack, try these hunger-busting choices:

    1. Soy Nuts/Pumpkin Seeds: They are tasty, crunchy, and take time to getphoto courtesy of jaxzin digested - the perfect recipe to keep you full and satisfied longer.

    2. Low-fat or Skimmed Milk: Grab a glass of milk and add a teaspoonful of your favorite protein powder for a double protein treat.

    3. Beef and Turkey Jerky: An ounce of jerky provides a whopping 9 grams of protein. Add a handful of berries or sliced bananas to create your own balanced power snack.

    4. Breadless Turkey Sandwich: Top 2 slices of turkey with 1 slice of lowfat cheese and a slice of tomato. Roll it up and pin it with a toothpick.

    5. Quesadillas: Spice up your day by folding salsa, beans and cottage cheese in a low-carb tortilla. Microwave when you're ready to eat.

    The Bottom Line

    Most health professionals agree that the best animal proteins are fish and poultry. So when our favorite meats involve beef, lamb, and pork, choosing the right protein sources becomes difficult. However, red meat lovers need not fret. If you stick with the leanest cuts of meat and choose moderate portion sizes of beef, pork, or lamb as an occasional part of a diet, they can be enjoyed without guilt.

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