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BellaOnline's Healthy Foods Editor

Protein Rich Foods

Many people are obsessed with the protein in their diet, each for their own various reasons. Some view it as the superfood component used to get fit and build muscle. Others feel it encourages weight loss and use it to get lean. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt about it: protein is a necessary part of our diets. We wouldn't be able to survive without protein but that doesn't mean we need to go out of our way to load up on it at each meal. You might be getting more that you think in your normal diet.

When you think protein, what comes to mind? A huge slab of steak? A thick cheeseburger patty? Half a chicken? While meats are a good source of protein, you do also want to be aware of the saturated fat content. Choose lean meats and remove any visible fat. Choose ground meats with a lower fat content. If you're eating chicken or turkey, remove the skin. Also, be aware of portion sizes. Your steak doesn't need to be a 16 ounce sirloin. A serving of meat for an adult is 3 ounces, about the size of your palm or a deck of cards. Most typical meat-eaters serve themselves portion sizes much bigger than this. Remember the palm of your hand when serving meat at your next meal!

In the world of protein, you should think beyond meats like beef, chicken, and pork. Fish and seafood are great sources of protein and many have healthy fats for your heart. You can find good protein sources outside of the meat group. Beans are a great protein source and can be incorporated into many dishes or served on their own. Nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts are also good protein sources. Not only do they provide protein but they also deliver a good source of fiber and healthy fats in the case of nuts. Both protein and fiber are filling, leading to increased satiety and fullness between meals. Other ways to get protein include eggs, soy products like tofu and edemame, and dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt. There are many tasty ways to get your protein intake for the day by increasing the variety in your diet!

Take a look back on your day. How did you do protein-wise? Try to incorporate protein into each meal. It will help you throughout the day but don't feel that you really need a daily double cheeseburger or a protein enhanced beverage to meet your needs. Choose a variety of foods and try to incorporate beans and legumes as a healthy protein source!

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