Taste of Health Francesca Ballicu | 10 months ago

The Power of Protein

How much protein do you actually need, and what are the best sources?

Protein can help you shed those unwanted pounds – and keep your belly full. But it's important to eat the right amount and the right kind of protein to get its health benefits. For example, the typical 8-oz. steak served in restaurants will give you more protein than you actually need, and it’s packed with artery-clogging saturated fat. You’ve probably heard that eating extra protein builds more muscle. This is a myth! Extra protein doesn’t give you superhuman strength. In fact, the only way to build muscle is through exercise. Here’s how much protein you and your family should be getting, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
  • For older children, teen girls, active women and most men, the guidelines give the nod to two daily servings for a total of six ounces (approximately 44 grams).
  • Teenage boys and active men can get all the protein they need from three daily servings for a total of seven ounces (approximately 54 grams).
  • For children age 2 to 6, most women and some older people, the government recommends two daily servings for a total of five ounces (approximately 38 grams).

Top Protein Sources

Seafood

Seafood is an excellent source of protein because it's usually low in fat – particularly white fish like cod, halibut and haddock. Salmon is a little higher in fat, but it’s the heart-healthy kind (in the form of omega-3 fatty acids).
  • Amount of protein in a 3-oz. serving of white fish: 22-26 grams
  • Amount of protein in a 3-oz. serving of salmon: 39 grams

Legumes

Did you know a ½ cup of beans contains as much protein as an ounce of broiled steak? Plus, these nutritious nuggets are loaded with fiber to keep you feeling full for hours. Black beans, red beans, pinto beans, chickpeas and lentils are all good protein sources.
  • Amount of protein in ½ cup of beans: 15 grams

Lean meats

This includes turkey, chicken, pork tenderloin and lean beef. As an FYI, dark meat is a little higher in fat, so try to stick to one 3-oz. serving (about the size of a computer mouse). The skin is loaded with saturated fat, so remove it before cooking.
  • Amount of protein in a 3-oz. serving of chicken: 31 grams
  • Amount of protein in a 3-oz. serving of turkey: 26 grams
  • Amount of protein in a 3-oz. serving of pork tenderloin and lean beef: 22 grams

Dairy

Not only are dairy foods like yogurt, milk and cheese excellent sources of protein, but they also contain valuable nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Choose low-fat dairy whenever possible, and forego sugary yogurts in favor of protein-packed Greek yogurt.
  • Amount of protein in one cup of Greek yogurt: 17 grams
  • Amount of protein in one cup of milk: 8 grams
  • Amount of protein in a 1-oz. serving of cheese (1 slice): 7 grams

Eggs

Eggs are one of the least expensive forms of protein. According to The American Heart Association, a normal healthy adult can safely enjoy an egg a day. If you have high cholesterol, simply scramble up some egg whites.
  • Amount of protein in one egg: 6.29 grams
  • Amount of protein in one egg white: 3.6 grams
Take the quiz below to see how your protein knowledge stacks up. It’s fun for kids too!

TAKE THE PROTEIN QUIZ 

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