9 Lean Proteins You Should Be Eating
Protein is an important nutrient for your body. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy, beans, soy foods, nuts and seeds.
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Skinless Chicken or Turkey
White meat is the leanest choice, but even dark meat can be a good choice if you skip the skin. Both chicken and turkey give you about 25 grams of high-quality protein, along with B vitamins and selenium. Roast a whole chicken for Sunday dinner, use the leftovers to top Monday’s salad and fill Tuesday’s sandwich.
90% (or Leaner) Ground Beef
Lean ground beef is a source of high-quality protein, and you don't need a lot to get the protein you need. Just 3 ounces delivers 22 grams of protein, along with a healthy dose of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Keep your portion size in check by bulking up ground beef with grated veggies or beans, or add it to a salad, like in Ellie Krieger's Taco Salad.
Beans & Lentils
These vegetarian proteins are super-healthy and you should eat them frequently. Not only do they give you protein (9 grams per half cup), they are also brimming with filling fiber, heart-healthy folate and energy-creating iron.
Lowfat or Nonfat Dairy
Dairy products, like milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese are good lean sources of protein. Make a smoothie with yogurt, skim milk and your favorite fruits for an on-the-go breakfast or snack. Top whole grain toast with skim ricotta, a drizzle of honey, pumpkin seeds and lemon zest for a delicious, wholesome breakfast.
Fish & Shellfish
Most Americans don’t eat enough fish. The American Heart Association recommends aiming for at least two 3.5-oz servings per week. Keep cans of light tuna and Alaskan salmon on hand and use it to make a sandwich filling, top a salad, or make salmon cakes.
Tofu & Other Soy Foods
Soy is one of the top vegetarian protein sources. ½ cup of tofu gives you 8 - 10 grams of protein (depending on whether it’s soft or firm), while 1 cup of edamame gives you 17 grams. Calcium-set tofu also gives you a healthy dose of bone-building calcium, while edamame also packs a whopping 8 grams of fiber.
Nuts, Nut Butters & Seeds
Unless you’re allergic to them, nuts and seeds are a must-have in your diet. A Harvard research study found that they’re one of the top foods linked to weight loss. Plus they’re chockfull of healthy fats and fiber, in addition to protein. Natural peanut or almond butters are a great choice for topping your morning toast. Toss pumpkin and sunflower seeds together with dried fruit for an energizing afternoon snack.
Pork tenderloin, loin chops and sirloin roast are lean cuts of pork. A 3-oz. serving of pork chops, for instance, gives you 23 grams of protein and a bounty of energy-producing B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, B6 and B12), with just 2 grams of saturated fat.
The incredible, edible egg is a good way to get a bit of protein in your diet. One egg offers 6 grams of protein for just 70 calories. Most of that protein is in the egg white, so an easy way to boost the protein content of your morning scramble—without going overboard on saturated fat or dietary cholesterol—is to add extra egg whites. Think outside of breakfast and add a hard-boiled egg to your salad at lunch or pack a shelled hard-boiled egg for a surprisingly satiating snack.