5 Tips for Choosing Healthy Protein Foods


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By Jim - 8/31/2010 5:26:10 AM

1. Mix it up. Most reasonable diets provide enough protein for healthy people. Eating a variety of foods will ensure that you get all of the amino acids you need. 

2. Go low on saturated fat. Beans, fish and poultry provide plenty of protein, without much saturated fat. Steer clear of fatty meats and use whole-milk dairy products sparingly. For more information on saturated fat, read "Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good."

3. Limit red meat—and avoid processed meat. Research suggests that people who eat more than 18 ounces a week of red meat have a higher risk of colon cancer. So make red meat—beef, pork, lamb—only an occasional part of your diet, if you eat it at all. And skip the processed stuff—bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats—since that's also been linked to higher cancer risk. Try these healthy protein recipes for nuts and tofu, fish and chicken.

4. Eat soy in moderation. Tofu and other soy foods are an excellent red meat alternative. But don't go overboard; 2 to 4 servings a week is a good target. And stay away from supplements that contain concentrated soy protein or extracts, such as isoflavones, as we just don't know the long term effects. Read more about soy and health.

5. Balance carbs and protein. Cutting back on highly processed carbohydrates and increasing protein improves levels of blood triglycerides and HDL, and so may reduce your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other form of cardiovascular disease. It may also make you feel full longer, and stave off hunger pangs. For tips on how to choose high quality carbs, check out the Carbohydrates section of The Nutrition Source.