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The Power of Protein

High protein foods were definitely on display at this year’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, a gathering of more than 9,000 registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition scientists with a “no-nonsense” attitude about unfounded nutrition claims. Fortunately, the protein rage comes with some impressive science-based evidence showing better diabetes control, improvement in satiety, prevention of skeletal muscle loss, benefits to weight management, and improvements in blood pressure and lipid (cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglyceride) profile.

The quality and quantity of protein are important

Several completed studies, including projects looking at the high quality protein in eggs and in dairy products, consistently showed that both the quality and the quantity of protein are important. One key take-away message was to have 20-30 grams of protein at each meal. Breakfast is especially important because people tend to consume protein at lunch and dinner meals, but often leave out a source of protein at breakfast time. Only 15% of daily protein, on average, is consumed at breakfast, and having an adequate amount of high quality protein for breakfast helps “activate your machinery”.

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High protein breakfast ideas

Two examples of easy- to- fix breakfast meals with adequate protein are:

  1. Plain Greek yogurt (6 ounces) with almonds (¼ cup), cinnamon, and a nonnutritive sweetener, served with a bowl of oatmeal (one cup cooked). The protein content for this breakfast = 26 grams protein
  2. Two eggs, low fat milk (1 cup) and unsweetened cereal (¾cup). The protein content for this breakfast = 26 grams protein

Where can you find protein foods?

You can consume protein from animal or plant based sources. Here is the lowdown on some great protein picks:

Animal Based - Egg, Poultry, Beef, Pork, Fish, Game, Cheese, Milk, Greek Yogurt
Plant Based - Soy (edamame, tofu, tempeh), Nuts, Beans, Nut butters, Seitan, Quinoa

The highest quality protein foods, having all essential amino acids in a digestible form, are from eggs, milk and soy. Be sure to include protein foods at each meal in order to optimize the health value of this very important nutrient.

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