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5 Sources of Healthy Protein

August 20, 2010

First and foremost, eat the kinds you like! If you can’t stand soy, then don’t eat it, but try to switch among types you do like to get as much variety (= vitamins/minerals) of protein in your diet as possible.

If you don’t like meat, there are several other options that work together to provide all of the essential amino acids that your body needs:

1. Soy protein – pretty darn close to as good as eating meat. Heavy use of soy interferes with zinc and iron absorption, so it’s a good idea to add some Vitamin C to soy meals to improve uptake.

2. Other Legumes – lentils, beans and peas provide about 18g of protein per cup, equivalent to a serving of chicken. The only issue with legumes as protein is that they contain no vitamin B12 (plant forms of this vitamin are not active). However…

3. Eggs and Dairy – Cheese contains almost as much protein as tuna…and also provides vitamin B12. Three eggs are equivalent to a serving of chicken in protein content.

4.Whole Grains – Grains also contribute protein to the diet with a cup of brown rice, pasta or oatmeal all providing 6g. Grains also provide folate, which is missing from animal proteins.

5. Vegetables – Yep, veggies have protein, too. Like whole grains, they also provide many nutrients that animal products do not. Count on 6g of protein in a cup of corn or 4g from a cup of broccoli, collard greens or sweet potato.

So, veggies, vegans and meat-haters have plenty of options for ensuring their diet includes a variety of healthy protein sources.

What is your favorite non-meat protein? Any tips for cooking with soy and legumes for readers looking to cut out the meat?

Photo: Max F. Williams

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