It’s a well-known fact that protein is needed in order to be healthy. I stated in my most recent blog post that it IS possible to have too much protein in the diet. Because that is not a health tip that is commonly talked about, I thought it was important to expand on it.
So to clarify, protein is usually pretty heavy in the American diet. Here are 8 foods that are quality sources of protein. These foods are great sources of protein and may indicate if your diet is high or low in this nutrient.
This is one of many quality sources of protein that is common in our diet, but it can also be high in fat. Because it is a red meat that can be high in fat and bad cholesterol, I would suggest this is not one of your main protein sources. It’s okay to eat but I would say to keep beef in only 2 meals per week. And, if you are eating beef, smaller portion sizes will still be good sources of protein!
Chicken is one of my favorite quality sources of protein to include in my diet. Chicken is great to add into your diet because it is lean protein that can be included in SO many yummy recipes. It also is an affordable option to include in your diet. Try including grilled and baked chicken into salads, dinners, and kabobs for delicious and healthy sources of protein.
Turkey is another one of the quality sources of protein that I keep in my diet regularly. Why? It’s a great substitution for beef. It’s affordable. AND it’s one of the sources of protein that is good to get you out of that “chicken coma” (if you don’t know what that is…then good ;)). Pick lean turkey for grilling burgers, or for meatballs, and pastas! Lean turkey can have a lot of flavor (especially of paired with spices and yummy veggies) so don’t worry about it being a boring option!
It may come as a surprise, but dairy packs a ton of protein. Milk, yogurt, and cheese all are quality sources of protein in your diet. You can find adequate sources of protein through your dairy alone if you are one of those people that is a dairy lover. But, I will provide a warning-dairy can also add up in the fat department. So, consuming dairy in moderation (just as with any other food) is important. Try to balance your dairy intake with other foods to find a balance in your diet!
Whether it’s peanut butter, almond butter, cashew, or sunflower seed butter-these delicious spreads can pack high nutritional value. Peanut butter (a separate food group itself, in my opinion) is one of the quality sources of protein that also contains good fats. But, here’s the catch: nut butter, depending on how it’s processed can be unhealthy and have a ton of unnecessary added ingredients. You’re typical jar of PB at the grocery store is not healthy for you-it contains sugar and hydrogenated oils as the main ingredients-what the heck?! That is not the kind of stuff we wanna be feeding our kids (well, I don’t have kids yet! But for your CURRENT kids and my future babies), I’m just putting it out there that we want a better option! Look for a natural nut butter like BuffBake, which has yummy flavors, or Simple Truth Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter from Fry’s or Kroger. And just another warning, nut butters are easy to go overboard with (in the servings department). Try to stick to serving sizes for the best balance of nutrients!
Nuts & Seeds
So maybe you don’t want to get messy with peanut or almond butter. Or maybe you are on the go. Nuts and seeds are great sources of protein in your diet. In the most minimally processed form, you can include nuts and seeds in snacking, trail mix, salads, and healthy baking for a great source of protein. They will also be a great source of fat as well. The key is to consume nuts and seeds in the right portion sizes so that you don’t exceed protein OR fat intake. Look for minimally processed brands without added sugars and salts for the best nutritional value.
Beans and Legumes
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you probably already know that beans and legumes are quality sources of protein that are animal product free! These are a great, and affordable option, for keeping protein in your diet. And they have good fiber content as well! Chickpeas and black beans are two examples of protein sources that can be included regularly in your diet.
Lastly, other sources of protein in your diet can include non-dairy milk (such as almond or cashew milk). For those of you with food allergies and food intolerance, many almond and cashew milks contain quality sources of protein as well as vitamin D! Including non-dairy milk into your diet can provide a healthy alternative to milk if you need to avoid it. Or, if you just want to switch things up, consider adding almond milk into your recipes and drinks (like your coffee and smoothies).
There are 3 main benefits of protein:
- Cell and muscle repair
- Healthy hair, skin, and nails
- Keep you feeling full
Protein is macro nutrient, meaning you need larger quantities in your diet to stay healthy(10-35% of daily intake). But, the American diet naturally lends itself to a protein rich diet. If you consume a ton of milk and red meat, you are probably well covered in the protein department, as well as your fat intake. And that’s okay! But, I think it’s important to share this information so that we are aware of what we are consuming and what that means for our bodies. If you are trying to be healthier, consider what sources of protein you consistently consume. If necessary, reduce portion sizes so that you are not consuming any one nutrient in excess!
If you liked this post, I would love for you to subscribe and get exclusive emails that help you create a healthy lifestyle you love! And, I want to hear YOUR thoughts in the comments below! Did you know these foods were quality sources of protein? Do you think you need to consume more, or less, protein in your diet?