Monday, March 11, 2013
Article # 381. List of Lean Protein Foods
Protein is composed of amino acids, known as the building blocks of muscle. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences for protein is 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight. While some believe protein is only important for athletes and bodybuilders, a healthy diet should include an adequate amount of protein in addition to fat and carbohydrates.
One of the cheapest lean protein sources available, chicken breast provides about 8 g protein per oz. When shopping, look for boneless skinless chicken breasts, as the majority of chicken fat is in and around the skin. To further reduce fat content, trim any remaining fat before cooking.
In addition to being full of protein, beef is also a good source of B vitamins and iron. However, many consider red meat unhealthy because of high saturated fat content and added hormones. Therefore, when shopping for beef, look for leaner cuts like top round, top sirloin, and flank steak. A general guideline is to look for a minimum 2 g protein to 1 g fat ratio. For ground beef, buy 90 percent lean or leaner. Also, whenever possible buy grass fed beef because this meat contains additional omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), both healthy types of fat.
Salmon, tuna and shrimp are just a few sources of seafood lean protein sources. However, be careful with tuna, as excessive consumption can lead to mercury poisoning. The Natural Defense Resource Council reports that tuna can have mercury content anywhere from .09 parts per million (ppm) to more that .5 ppm, depending on the type.
An egg consists of a white and a yolk. The white is a fast digesting protein while the yolk contains fat and cholesterol in addition to protein. By removing the yolk, you can eliminate a vast majority of the calories present in the egg without sacrificing all the protein content. Egg whites are available by the carton as well as in whole eggs.
Also high in fiber, beans are one of the rare plant sources of complete protein (containing all essential amino acids). There are a variety of bean types that provide similar nutritional benefits, including navy, pinto and black beans.
When shopping for dairy products, look for a high protein content with lower sugar content. Although all dairy items contain some amount of lactose (a simple sugar), milk and especially cottage cheese are good dairy protein sources.
For individuals who have a difficult time getting the appropriate amount of protein from whole food, protein powder is a convenient alternative. Protein powder can come from a variety of sources, including whey, casein, egg, soy and hemp. To select the type that is right for you, recognize that whey and casein are dairy sources and may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.