Protein is an essential nutrient for building and maintaining the bones, muscles, and skin. We get protein in our diets from meat, dairy products, nuts, grains, and beans.

The protein you obtain from meat and other animal products is complete, meaning that it contains all the amino acids your body cannot synthesize. Protein from plants is incomplete because it does nto contain all the amino acids your body needs. Therefore, you must combine plant proteins to get all the amino acids you require.

The average adult needs 50 to 65 grams of protein daily. This is equivalent to eating 4 ounces of meat and a cup of cottage cheese. Most people who follow a reasonable diet will take in enough protein. You should eat a variety of foods to make sure you get all the amino acids you need.

When making protein choices, try to avoid saturated fats, found in fatty meats and whole-milk dairy products. Try to limit red meat to less than 18 ounces per week and skip processed meats altogether, as they have been linked to higher cancer risks. Beans, fish, and poultry are healthier choices that provide lots of protein. Soy and tofu should be eaten in moderation, about two to four times a week. Eating a balance of carbohydrates and proteins is ideal. Cutting back on processed carbohydrates and increasing protein intake improves blood levels of triglycerides and HDL cholesterol, potentially reducing your risks of heart attack, stroke, and other kinds of cardiovascular disease.

Additional Facts

1. Six ounces of steak provides about 38 grams of protein and 44 grams of fat, 16 grams of which is saturated fat. That is nearly 75 percent of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat.
2. Six ounces of salmon provides 34 grams of protein and 18 ounces of fat, 4 grams of which is saturated. That amounts to only 18 percent of the recommended daily total of saturated fat.
3. A cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein and less than 1 grams of fat.

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