Choosing Healthy Proteins

We all know that proteins are very important to build our body and give the necessary strength to our muscles. However, what most of us don’t know is that proteins help to keep us energized throughout the day and also helps a great deal in improving our mental and cognitive health. In spite of being loaded with so many benefits, not many people consume proteins the right way. Though proteins are found in plenty in items such as supplements, meat and steaks, that’s not the quality of protein that you should be eating on an everyday basis to enjoy the benefits.

It is very important to eat healthy proteins and include it in the right quantities as part of your regular meal so that you can witness overall improvement in your physical and mental health.

Proteins, regardless of their source, provide a lot of amino acids that form for your growth and energy. It is very important to consume a balanced amount of animal and plant-based proteins daily to get all the nutrients that you require. Meat, poultry, fishes, dairy and eggs are great sources of animal-based proteins whereas vegetables, beans, legumes and nuts are excellent sources of plant-based proteins.

Having said this, we would like to insist that you should eat these foods only in their natural forms, to get the maximum benefit of proteins. Processed meats and canned vegetables may also contain proteins, but they are not healthy sources of protein because they contain a lot of refined sugars, salt, and preservatives. In the long run, these can cause a lot of health issues in you.

Recommended level of healthy proteins per day

There is no hard and fast rule about the quantity of healthy proteins you should consume in a day. It all depends on your weight. According to experts, you should consume around 0.8grams of protein per kg of your weight. People above 60 can consume around 1 or 1.5 grams of protein per kg of your body weight.

In terms of ounces, men and women should consume around 6 and 5 ounces of healthy proteins every day respectively. Kids aged between 2 and 3 years can consume 2 ounces whereas kids aged between 4 and 8 years can consume around 4 ounces of healthy proteins every day. Boys and girls aged between 9 and 18 years should consume 5 ounces of proteins per day. In the prime teenage phase of 14 to 18 years, kids need around 6.5 ounces of proteins per day, because this is the stage when their growth is in its prime stage.

healthy proteins in your daily diet

Some healthy proteins that you should make a habit of eating regularly

1, Beans

This is one of the best choices for healthy proteins for vegetarians. All types of beans and peas are loaded with proteins and fiber. These can also be cooked in different ways; therefore, you don’t have to worry about your diet getting mundane.

2, Poultry

Though poultry is a good source of protein, it is highly recommended that you stay away from chicken as much as you can, because these days most of the stores sell genetically modified varieties.

3, Seafood

Fish is considered to be one of the best sources of healthy protein because they are low on calories as well. You may try to include fishes like sardines, salmon, trout and herring at least twice a week in your daily diet as they are loaded with essential amino acids in the form of Omega 3 fatty acids.

4, Nuts

Nuts like almonds and walnuts are great sources of proteins and fiber. You can eat them whole or in the powdered form. They add the much-needed crunchiness to your salads and soups, thereby not only adding taste but also nutrients in your meal.

5, Dairy products

When you choose dairy products, you have to exercise a lot of caution. Choose only skimmed milk or Greek yogurt or fresh cheese for getting your dose of proteins. Processed cheese, full-fat milk and other forms of flavored yogurt may contain preservatives and added sugars in them, which you have to stay away from.

6, Soy products

If you aren’t allergic to soy, you could include soy products such as tofu in your regular diet. These are low in fat and high in protein content. Therefore, they play a good role in helping you keep energized as well as healthy throughout the day.

Why should you include these sources of protein in your regular diet?

Have you ever wondered as to why there has been a lot of emphasis on proteins and why you need to consume in the right quantities every day? It is because of the following reasons:

  • We will get to explain to you about the health benefits, but first, let’s talk about how proteins help your mind. The amino acid, tryptophan, present in healthy proteins help your body by enhancing the production of the happy hormone called serotonin. Thanks to this hormone, you will start feeling more relaxed than ever. It keeps you issues such as depression, anxiety attacks, stress and the like.
  • Good proteins help to improve the overall functioning of your vital organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys.
  • When you take enough healthy proteins, you will notice that your muscles recover well even after an intense workout session.
  • Good sources of proteins not only make you feel full for a long time, but they also keep your hunger pangs at bay.
  • People who eat healthy proteins regularly are less prone to ailments such as diabetes, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Regular consumption of healthy proteins will result in phenomenal improvements in your overall visual appeal as well, as it will improve the appearance of your hair, skin and nails.

Tips for including healthy proteins in your daily diet

Making small changes in your eating style can help you improve your protein intake, without you having to try too much.

  • Include one egg at least in your meal every day. Eggs are great sources of proteins and you can eat quite a few egg whites, without having any second thoughts. Egg yolks have saturated fats in them, which is why you need to limit consuming them.
  • If you cannot nuts in their whole form, you can powder them well in advance and use them as toppings on your salads, soups and other curries. Almonds, especially, are excellent sources of proteins, magnesium, fiber and mono-saturated fats; therefore, you should include them without fail in your daily diet.
  • You may love your animal proteins, but it is very important that you don’t over-rely on them for your protein intake. You should include a lot of plant proteins such as beans, peas and soy-based products in your diet to get a balanced source of proteins in your meal.
  • Reduce the intake of processed foods such as pastries, pizzas, biscuits, wafers and the like. These foods have a very high content of fat and salt in them and you don’t want to put on weight eating them.
  • You need to eat small portions of meals and snacks at regular intervals. Get into the habit of eating healthy sandwiches, nuts and seeds for snacks instead of unhealthy, processed or frozen foods during your snack-time.
  • Even if you don’t like the taste of fishes like salmons and sardines, you have to try and include it in some form in your regular diet, because they are great sources of good proteins. If you eat meat and other forms of seafood, we don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t take the effort to include these fishes as part of your diet.
  • If you are a vegetarian, you have to be very careful about mixing and matching your plant-based protein sources in your daily diet. For example, when you eat grains or nuts, you should definitely include legumes along with them. In short, you have to get the optimum combination through which you not only get your daily recommended level of proteins, but also feel full.
  • You have to choose only lean meat and stay away from red meat of all types. Many people make the mistake of including lots of bacon, sausages and hot dogs in their daily diet because they believe that meat is a great source of protein. This is wrong. Always stick to low-fat and lean meat only.
  • When you are choosing nuts and seeds, you should always choose only the unsalted varieties, if you want to enjoy the full benefits of the good proteins found in these.

As you can see above, healthy proteins are a must in your daily diet, regardless of your age and gender. It may seem tough initially to monitor your daily protein intake levels and watch your portion controls; however, with time, you will master the art of mixing up your meals with the right balance of animal and plant-based proteins. When you start consuming the correct quantity of proteins on a regular basis, you will definitely see a visible improvement in your holistic health.

Mark Lamplugh Jr. is a fourth generation firefighter and former captain with the Lower Chichester (PA) Fire Company. He is now the Vice President of Business Development with Solid Landings Behavioral Health. He is nationally recognized in Crisis Stress Intervention through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Mark has placed and referred hundreds of firefighters, police officers, EMS personal and civilians nationwide. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]