Go lean with protein

Consider these suggestions for incorporating healthier proteins into your diet

Consuming enough protein can be challenging when we know that protein can add extra fat and cholesterol to our diet. Variety and choosing lean are the keys when it comes to selecting protein.

Select a variety of protein foods to improve nutrient intake and health benefits. Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat. Choose some of the often forgotten members of the Protein Food Group such as beans and peas, processed soy products, and nuts and seeds to add variety to your diet.

Ask yourself these questions regarding your protein intake. Do you:

  • Choose lean cuts of beef and pork such as round steaks or roasts, pork loin, tenderloin?
  • Choose extra lean ground beef? Look for 90 percent lean on the label?
  • Buy skinless chicken breasts or remove skin before cooking?
  • Choose turkey, roast beef, chicken or low-fat luncheon deli meats?
  • Trim away all visible fat before cooking?
  • Drain fat after cooking?
  • Bake, grill, roast or boil instead of frying?
  • Enjoy gravy or sauces on the side?
  • Prepare protein foods without added fats?
  • Choose seafood a couple times a week?
  • Choose beans or soy products?

When trying to make leaner protein choices and vary your choices, each of the above items can help you take a step in the right direction. Including beans, peas, or soy products more often can be done in some simple ways. Some ideas to consider are:

  • Chili with kidney or pinto beans
  • Stir-fried tofu
  • Split pea, lentil, minestrone or white bean soups
  • Baked beans
  • Black bean enchiladas
  • Garbanzo or kidney beans on a chef’s salad
  • Rice and beans
  • Veggie burgers
  • Hummus (chickpeas) spread on pita bread

For additional ideas on enjoying beans, visit the Michigan Bean Commission.

Choose unsalted nuts as a snack, on salads or in main dishes. Use nuts to replace, not garnish, meat or poultry:

  • Add slivered almonds to steamed vegetables.
  • Add toasted peanuts or cashews to a vegetable stir fry instead of meat.
  • Sprinkle a few nuts on top of low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt.
  • Add walnuts or pecans to a green salad instead of cheese or meat.

Protein is a critical component for healthy bodies. By making some small adjustments in our shopping and cooking, we can enjoy lean protein every day.

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