Choosing the right protein

close up of different food items on table

What is protein?

Protein is a macronutrient. Protein is one of the three macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) found in food that the human body needs a large amount of. Protein is an essential nutrient to the body as it helps the body to maintain and build muscle and body tissue. A study showed that 10-35 percent of your daily calories come from protein sources.

Proteins consist mainly out of small compounds called amino acids. Amino acids are the building block of protein.

Good vs bad protein sources

We can get protein from two different sources namely plant and animal-based proteins.

Protein should be a key ingredient in your diet but what kind of protein is the best for you?

  • Saturated fat

    Protein from animal sources such as red meat, eggs and dairy products contains a type of fat known as saturated fat. Large amounts of saturated fat can raise the LDL “bad” level of cholesterol in the blood. Large amounts of LDL cholesterol in the blood can cause plaque in the arteries that might limit the amount of blood flow and lead to heart disease. Saturated fats can also lead to weight gain. Your daily saturated amount should be less than 7 percent of your daily food intake. Protein sources high in saturated fats include red meat with a large amount of fat, dairy products such as milk, cheese and cream. These protein sources should be limited.

  • Lean meats

    To reduce the amounts of saturated fat go for leaner cuts of meat and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Another option is to replace some of the red meat with white meats like chicken or turkey. This is a better option than red meat especially if you don’t eat the skin.

  • Fish

    Fish is a very good source of protein that contains, healthy fats and a lot of vitamins and minerals. Salmon packs a healthy amount of omega-3 acids which can reduce joint stiffness and inflammation. A recent study has shown that fish is not just an alternative protein source, but is good for your brain. Omega-3 fats are essential for a healthy brain and brain development.

  • Plant sources

    Protein can also be obtained from plant sources like seeds, nuts, beans, soy and whole grains. Beans are a very good source of protein as they do not only contain a large amount of protein but they also contain fiber. Nuts and seeds also contain large amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

 

Conclusion

When choosing protein make sure to choose the right protein. It is better to choose a source of protein with smaller amounts of saturated fat like lean cuts of meat or poultry.

Here is a list of the best sources of protein you can buy:

  • Eggs (eggs are a good source of protein but limit the number of eggs)
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk
  • Chicken or turkey
  • Fish
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Soy
  • Beans

 

Ewan de Klerk

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