In our ongoing efforts to improve our health, many of us look to our diet as our first and best source for improving our health. One of the debates often held is the quality and origin of protein in our diets.
Our first option for protein is often meat. Poultry, pork, beef, and fish are frequent sources of our protein. However, many are also concerned about fat content, hormones, or other impacts on our long-term health.
Our bodies require different amounts of protein based on our size (height and weight), activity level, and age. For example, a 50-year-old woman weighing about 140 pounds would need about 53 grams of protein per day based on this calculator by Harvard Health. (link below). When building muscle, a person may require more protein, but is meat the best source?
While there is still much debate about the amount of protein, another question is, what is the best source of protein? You can get a lot of protein from plants, grains, beans, and nuts. There are higher risks of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes with high quantities of red meat or processed meats in your diet. This is quickly resolved, however! Reducing these in your diet can be relatively easy.
Tofu is a great source and alternative to meat that has been debated for decades. The good news is that it can hold up to 21 grams of protein per half a cup, and the fats are primarily good! However, it is made from soy, which can also impact estrogen levels. While this isn’t important to most individuals, it can be a healthcare factor for those with estrogen-related healthcare issues. Outside of those issues, it can be a healthy and diverse option for a healthy meal.
No matter what direction you choose to go, there is room in your diet for healthy choices. Even switching out a meal or two a week for vegetable options or just cutting back on red meat greatly influences your heart health and overall well-being. Remember-don’t replace meat with carbohydrates as those convert to sugar in your body, which isn’t great for your health either! Small changes, significant differences. You can start today!
Link to Harvard Protein Calculator: https://www.nal.usda.gov/human-nutrition-and-food-safety/dri-calculator
How much protein do you need every day? Harvard Health, January 19, 2022. Retrieved May 8, 2023 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096
Nutrition and Healthy Eating, The Mayo Clinic. December 9, 2022. Retrieved May 8, 2023 from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/meatless-meals/art-20048193 Clearing up questions on whether tofu is healthy. American Heart Association. October 10, 2022. Retrieved May 8, 2023 from https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/10/10/clearing-up-questions-on-whether-tofu-is-healthy