Protein is of course healthy and necessary, but just because a food is high in protein doesn’t mean that the food itself is healthy—especially when the protein comes in a food high in saturated fat. Lean sources of protein are egg whites, soy, products made from wheat gluten, vegetables (yes, vegetables contain protein; romaine lettuce contains more protein per calorie than meat), lean cuts of chicken, turkey or fish. Bake, broil, or grill your chicken, turkey, or fish, so as to prepare them without added fat. Nuts and seeds are also valuable protein sources, and while they also contain fat, it’s healthy fat. So they are included as valuable protein sources, but don’t overindulge on the nuts.
There is a common myth that animal protein is superior to plant protein; it is not, and a good case has been made (by T. Colin Campbell in The China Study) that the reverse is true. If you don’t have an allergy to soy, then tofu and tempeh are excellent soy-derived sources of protein. All types of beans provide abundant protein, and unlike meat, they are low in fat without the unhealthy saturated fat that causes heart problems.
Be careful to choose some sources of protein that are also high in calcium, a mineral important particularly to women. The most common dietary recommendation given by the medical community regarding calcium is to eat dairy products.
If you choose to get your calcium from dairy, opt for skim milk, yogurt, and low-fat cheese. But dairy isn’t the only ample source of calcium to be found. Here are some other good sources: sardines, clams, oysters, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, beans, tofu, chick peas. Still other good sources of calcium, although not high in protein, are dried figs and calcium-fortified orange juice. Keep in mind that the plant sources of calcium contain healthy fiber, whereas dairy and fish do not.
Do have any good protein-packed recipes you’d like to share? Tell us in the comment space: