Getting to the Heart of a Healthy Diet: Protein-Rich Foods
- Create, repair, and maintain tissue
- Help build enzymes and hormones
- Help build immunity to fight infection
How Protein Choices Affect Your Health:
Fat and Cholesterol
To Help Lower Blood Pressure
Understanding Serving Size
- 1/2 of a chicken breast or a chicken leg with thigh (without skin)
- 3/4 cup of flaked fish
- 2 thin slices of lean roast beef
- Albacore tuna
- Light-meat chicken, Cornish hen, and turkey without skin.
- Lean cuts of beef, such as round, sirloin, chuck, and loin.
- Lean or extra lean ground beef that has no more than 10% fat.
- Lean ham and pork, such as tenderloin and loin chop.
- Lean cuts of emu, buffalo, and ostrich. These choices are very low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
- Use ground turkey in place of ground beef.
- Buy "choice" or "select" grades of beef instead of "prime."
- Use turkey sausage in place of regular breakfast sausage.
and vegetable-based products; often with the other flavors of the recipe, you will barely notice the difference:
- Textured vegetable protein in place of ground meat
- Veggie or soy burgers and hot dogs in place of the meat versions
- Add beans to chili, rice, or salad
- Have some baked beans as a side dish
- Try hummus (ground chickpeas) instead of other dips on a whole grain cracker or pita bread
- Top a baked potato with sautéed black beans, onions, scallions, and some salsa.
- Use a bean spread on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.
- Toss white beans and tomatoes with pasta and fresh basil.
- Fold eggs around pinto beans and tomatoes for your next omelet.
In the Dairy Case
- If you are used to full fat or 2% milk, mix your regular milk with 1% at first to wean yourself off the higher fat milk. Slowly add more 1% until you are used to the lighter taste. If you cannot get used to skim milk, 1% is still a good low-fat option.
- Mix cheeses, too. Use some regular and some low-fat, so you will not feel you are missing out on the flavor.
- When choosing low-fat yogurts, note that the calorie levels are often lower in the versions that are "light," as well as being low in fat.
- Make an omelet with 1 egg yolk and a few egg whites.
- In cooking and baking, use 2 egg whites, or 1 egg white plus 2 teaspoons of unsaturated oil, in place of one whole egg.
- Try cholesterol-free commercial egg substitutes.
American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics http://www.eatright.org
Choose My Plate—US Department of Agriculture http://www.choosemyplate.gov
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca
Health Canada Food and Nutrition http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Meat, poultry, and fish. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Meat-Poultry-and-Fish%5FUCM%5F306002%5FArticle.jsp. Updated August 11, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014.
DASH diet. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 3, 2013. Accessed October 24, 2014.
Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf. Accessed October 24, 2014.
Dietary recommendations for cardiovascular disease prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 20, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014.
Eat more chicken, fish, and beans than red meat. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/WeightManagement/LosingWeight/Eat-More-Chicken-Fish-and-Beans-than-Red-Meat%5FUCM%5F320278%5FArticle.jsp. Updated February 19, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014.
Fish consumption advisories. US Department of Environmental Protection website. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/mercury/advisories.htm. Updated June 10, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014.
Mozaffarian D, Rimm EB: Fish intake, contaminants, and human health: Evaluating the risks and the benefits. JAMA. 2006;296:1885-1899.
Savica V, Bellinghiere G, et al. The effect of nutrition on blood pressure. Annu Rev Nutr. 2010;30:365-401.
Tips to help you make wise choices from the protein foods group. US Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/protein-foods-tips.html. Accessed October 24, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2014 -
- Update Date: 10/24/2014 -