Proteins are an essential part of any diet. Combined with fats and carbohydrates, proteins provide balanced nutrient-rich options to any meal. However, often we do not know what foods contain protein and how much of it should we eat.
What are Proteins?
Protein is a macronutrient and is found in animal products – like fish, poultry, meat and dairy – as well as nuts, legumes and some grains. Canada's food guide recommends that proteins should regularly encompass a quarter of your plate each day.
Food containing healthy proteins are:
fortified soy beverage
lean red meat including wild game
lower-fat milk, yogurts, kefir, and
It is recommended that getting a variety of protein foods in your diet is most beneficial. Canada's Heart & Stroke Foundation states "when choosing your protein foods, choose plant-based more often. Plant-based protein foods can provide more fibre and less saturated fat than other types of protein foods".
Benefits of Protein
Proteins have always been known to aid in building muscle, but it also has benefits for your brain and your heart health, especially when choosing foods like fish, beans, poultry, nuts and low-fat dairy, rather than high-fat meats. When you don’t get enough protein in your diet, your memory and mental agility may decrease.
Foods containing protein are high in vitamins and minerals, including Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those contained in salmon. proteins also aid in building and strengthening muscles, lowers blood pressure, helps maintain your weight, and can reduce your risk of heart disease.
How Much Protein?
There are a variety of sources that can help you calculate how much protein to include in your diet each day and often it depends on your age, health conditions, and gender. Always consult medical practitioners or nutritionists to guide you. However, here is an example guideline to get you started.
About 10 to 30 percent of your daily calories should generally come from protein. The recommended dietary allowance for grams of protein needed each day is as follows:
women (ages 19 to 70+): 46 grams
men (ages 19 to 70+): 56 grams
Finding sources of protein can be easy, but ensure that you are choosing healthy, low sodium, and try to avoid processed proteins when possible.
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