Americans are notoriously meat and potatoes-type eaters. Some people don’t consider it a meal unless there is a meat, starch and buttered roll on the plate. But as more and more people heed the medical advice about heart-healthy diets and slimmed waistlines, many see high-fat red meats, or even lean meats pumped with antibiotics, as detrimental to healthy living.
In fact, as many as 41% of Americans reported that they ate less meat in the last 12 months. Trends like “meatless Mondays” or “vegan before 6” offer outlines for how to cut meat without going entirely vegetarian or vegan.
But how can you be sure you are still getting enough protein when you eschew meat? After all, adult men are supposed to get 56 grams of protein and adult women are supposed to get 46 grams of protein each day.
One tiny little egg packs a nutritional punch. It provides about 13% of the recommended daily value of protein. Eggs also contain several B vitamins, which help keep energy levels steady. Eggs are typically thought of as a breakfast food, but a hardboiled egg can be a great on-the-go snack or be diced into a salad to ensure your veggie-rich meal also has the necessary protein.
Go Nuts With Nuts
Nuts are naturally nutrient-rich foods. While they are full of fiber and protein, some can be high in calories and fat, so you should pick wisely. For example, an ounce of black walnuts will give you 7 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids with just 1 gram of saturated fat, the unhealthy fat that can lead to heart disease. Almonds and pistachios are also great choices.
Keeping a bag of your favorite nuts in your desk can ensure you skip the office candy bowl and stay on the track to healthy eating. Just be sure you aren’t buying nuts that are:
- Heavily salted
- Covered in candy coating
- Dusted with sugar
It’s All Greek Yogurt to Me
Greek yogurt is another non-meat source of protein, as well as calcium, potassium and vitamin B12. Yogurt has the benefit of live culture bacteria called probiotics that keep your gastrointestinal system working as it should. If you aren’t a fan of the plain flavor, try adding it with fresh fruit into your blender for a delicious smoothie.
Beans are a two-for-one special. One cup can give you half of your daily fiber and 15 grams of protein. Low in fat and rich in antioxidants, beans can be added to soups, salads and sautéed veggies to enhance flavor and nutritional value. And thanks to their high water content and fiber, you’ll feel full for longer after eating them.
Plenty of Choices to Pick
Protein is important because it is part of every cell in your body. Among its many benefits, protein helps to build muscle and allows you to feel full longer. As you try to eat a healthy, balanced diet, make sure to include these non-meat sources of protein.