A balanced diet is important for good health, and it includes three main types of nutrients: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. While fat and carbs have been criticized a lot in the past (remember the low-fat craze and the trendy ketogenic diet?), protein has always been seen as a healthy choice. But why is high protein foods so popular, especially lean protein?
High Protein foods is essential for our overall health. It’s like the building blocks of our body because things like our bones, muscles, skin and blood are all made of protein. It also helps in repairing and replacing cells in our body. Therefore, it plays an important role in keeping us healthy.
When it comes to weight loss, protein can be a helpful friend. This helps our brain notice a hormone called leptin, which makes us feel full and gives us energy. Therefore, having enough protein in your diet can help you feel full for a longer period of time.
But here’s a problem: Some high-protein foods, like steak and pork, can also be high in saturated fat. According to experts, too much saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease. This is where lean proteins come in handy.
In fact, based on research findings, eating more lean protein may reduce the risk of heart disease, while eating too much red meat may increase the risk. Therefore, choosing lesser sources of protein can be a smart move for your health.
How Much Protein Do You Need? It Depends
Protein is important for our bodies, but many Americans eat more protein than they actually need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that protein should account for 10% to 35% of the calories we eat. According to the American Heart Association, this means about 46 grams of protein per day for adult women and 56 grams of protein for adult men.
When it comes to choosing protein sources, it’s a good idea to choose lean options. Lean protein has less than 10 grams of total fat and less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams (that’s about 3.5 ounces). It helps in keeping your diet healthy.
10 Lean High Protein Foods
When you look at 4 ounces of raw ground turkey, it gives you approximately 167 calories, 22.3 grams of protein, 2.8 grams of saturated fat, and 8.7 grams of fat. That’s why many people consider it a good choice for a lean source of protein.
Turkey can be used as a substitute for chicken or beef in dishes like chili, tacos, and even meatballs. However, it is not complete. Unlike red meat, turkey doesn’t contain a lot of iron, but it is rich in vital nutrients like B vitamins, selenium, zinc and phosphorus while being very low in fat.
Vitamin B are good for improving blood circulation, helping form red blood cells, and keeping your brain healthy. Zinc is known for its role in boosting the immune system. So, even though turkey doesn’t have as much iron as red meat, it still provides some valuable health benefits. According to the USDA, in 4 ounces of turkey, you’ll get about 14 percent of the daily value for vitamin B2, 45 percent for selenium and 23 percent for zinc.
If you like to eat chicken, this is a healthy option to get protein. To keep the fat content low, eat chicken breast without skin. As Nieves suggests, these are a great source of protein with very little fat.
According to the USDA (the people who keep track of food information), a small chicken breast without the skin has about 160 calories. It is rich in protein with about 36 grams, which is great for your muscles. Plus, it contains only 1 gram of saturated fat and 2.5 grams of total fat, making it a smart choice for a healthy meal.
When it comes to healthy sources of lean animal protein, seafood is a great choice. It’s rich in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart, and it has less saturated fat and cholesterol than other animal proteins like red meat.
Research has shown that eating fish at least once a week has a 15 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to people who rarely eat fish. Additionally, including fish in your diet reduces your risk of developing diabetes.
One type of seafood that is especially good for you is salmon. According to the USDA, 3 ounces of salmon has 121 calories, 16.8 grams of protein, only 0.8 grams of saturated fat and 5.4 grams of total fat. Foods like salmon, which are low in fat and high in protein, provide you with the energy you need during your workout.
Did you know that one large, whole egg has about 74 calories? It has 6.2 grams of protein, a little bit of saturated fat (not so healthy kind of fat) at 1.6 grams, and 5 grams of total fat. But if you just take the egg white, it is very light on the calorie scale with only 17 calories. It’s also rich in 3.6 grams of protein and has no saturated fat to worry about, plus a small amount of total fat.
Now, you may have heard some mixed things about eggs and whether they are good for your heart. Well, the thing is: Studies on eggs and heart disease have given us mixed results. Some say there is a connection, while others say there is no connection. Therefore, we are still not completely sure, and more research is needed to settle the debate.
But here’s the exciting part: Eggs have some hidden superpowers. In addition to being a great source of protein, they also contain special antioxidants called carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are like bodyguards for your eyes, helping protect them from harmful light waves and keeping your eye cells healthy.
There’s even a study that indicates that eating two to four eggs a week may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is a fancy way of saying it can help keep your eyes sharp as you age. Can help in keeping. So, eggs aren’t just breakfast champions; He is also an eye hero!
5. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are great plant-based sources of protein that are naturally healthy. They don’t contain any cholesterol, and they’re packed with fiber, folates, and something called phytates, which are plant-derived antioxidants that may be good for your heart, blood pressure, and may even reduce the risk of certain types of diabetes. Can also help. cancer.
According to the USDA, if you have just half a cup of chickpeas, you’ll get about 134.5 calories, 7.3 grams of protein (which is good for your muscles), hardly any saturated fat, a little healthy fat, and a good amount of fiber. Fiber to keep your digestion healthy.
Although there is solid scientific evidence that eating legumes is good for your health, it turns out that only 8 percent of adults in the US eat these fantastic sources of lean protein every day. Legumes can actually help reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, reduce high blood pressure, and even control your weight. This is probably due to the fiber present in them, which makes you feel full and satisfied. Therefore, adding more beans and legumes to your diet can be a tasty and healthy option.
6. Low-Fat Milk
“One cup of 1 percent reduced-fat milk has about 106 calories. According to the USDA, it also provides you with about 8.3 grams of protein, 1.4 grams of saturated fat and about 2.1 grams of total fat.
If you can handle dairy products, low-fat milk is a good way to get lean protein. It also contains calcium, which is important for strong bones and teeth. For a healthier option, consider choosing low-fat versions of milk. As Windle suggests, they still contain plenty of valuable nutrients.”
7. Plain Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
“Another dairy product that’s rich in lean protein is plain low-fat Greek yogurt. According to the USDA, a 7-ounce container of this yogurt contains about 146 calories, about 20 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, and 3.8 grams of of total fat. That’s almost double the protein you’ll find in regular plain low-fat yogurt, which contains about 11.9 grams of protein, while the fat content remains the same at 2.3 grams of saturated fat and 3.5 grams of total fat.
But Greek yogurt isn’t just delicious; It also contains live cultures that can support healthy bacteria in your gut. “It can be really good for your digestive system and help with issues like irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, eczema and constipation, as recommended by experts at the Cleveland Clinic.”
Salmon isn’t the only seafood that’s good for you and low in fat. Tuna is another excellent choice because it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your heart and can reduce inflammation, according to experts like Nieves. As the Cleveland Clinic points out, a small 3-ounce serving of tuna contains about 1 gram of these beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Tuna is also a great source of protein, especially when it comes to fish. According to the USDA, 100 grams of canned light tuna in water, after the liquid is drained, provides you with 90 calories, 19 grams of protein, a little saturated fat (0.2 grams) and 0.9 grams of total fat. ,
However, it is important to know that some types of tuna may contain higher levels of mercury than other fish. Too much mercury can be harmful, so it’s a good idea to be cautious. The Environmental Defense Fund recommends that adults limit their tuna consumption to about three servings a month. If you are a woman, each serving of canned tuna should be about 6 ounces, while for men, it can be 8 ounces to be safe.
Tofu is a food made from soybeans and is often used in vegetarian and vegan diets. It is a great source of plant-based protein that gives you all the essential amino acids your body needs. Plus, it’s naturally cholesterol-free. According to the USDA, a half-cup serving of tofu has about 181 calories, 21.8 grams of protein, 1.6 grams of saturated fat and 11 grams of total fat.
Soy, the main ingredient in tofu, contains antioxidants called isoflavones. As suggested by research, these antioxidants may provide some protection against heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Therefore, enjoying tofu as part of your diet can be a healthy option.
10. Cottage Cheese
Did you know that cheese isn’t just for lasagna and crackers? It’s also a great way to get calcium. You will get approximately 92.5 calories in half a cup of cheese. It is rich in 12.1 grams of protein, has 1.4 grams of saturated fat, 2.5 grams of total fat, and provides about 113.5 milligrams of calcium. So, it is not only delicious, but also nutritious!
Edamame, which is young soybeans often eaten as a snack in Japan, can be a good source of lean protein. In just a half-cup of prepared frozen edamame, you’ll get about 9.2 grams of protein and only 94 calories. According to the USDA, they are also low in saturated fat (less than 0.5 grams) and total fat is about 4 grams.
However, edamame is a bit controversial because it contains compounds called isoflavones that are similar to the hormone estrogen in humans. Some studies have shown that high estrogen levels may increase the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.
For example, in one study, women who were recently diagnosed with breast cancer were given either soy protein or a placebo (fake soy protein) for a few weeks before cancer surgery. After the study, researchers found genetic changes in the breast tissue of women who consumed soy protein, raising concerns that soy might encourage the cancer to return.
But it’s important to note that research on this topic is divided, and there is even some evidence to suggest that edamame may actually have a slight protective effect against breast cancer. The American Cancer Society has noted this potential benefit. Ultimately, more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions on whether edamame is a risk or protective factor for breast cancer.
Are you looking for a healthy alternative to rice that is also a good source of lean protein? Look no further than quinoa! 44 grams of quinoa, which is about a quarter cup, contains 160 calories. According to the USDA, this is a great choice because it provides 5 grams of protein and only 2.5 grams of total fat with no saturated fat. Plus, quinoa is a whole grain, which means it’s high in dietary fiber. In the same quarter-cup serving, you’ll get 2 grams of fiber, which is about 8 percent of your daily value.
Why is fiber important? Well, it’s linked to maintaining a healthy weight and may even help prevent diabetes, as the Mayo Clinic suggests. So, quinoa gives you the benefits of not only protein but also fiber, making it a great superfood option.
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