Proteins: The Body’s Building Blocks
Proteins are biochemical compounds that play a part in practically every biological process. They are some of the most important building blocks that make up skin, muscle, bone, and hormones. Like other macronutrient groups (fat and carbohydrates), we need protein to survive.
In order for the body to maintain itself, it has to consume an adequate amount of protein (on average about 60 to 80 grams). Getting sufficient protein helps the body retain and build muscle mass as well as combat infection and disease.
Protein can be found in a variety of foods–including legumes, dairy, and some vegetables–but the best source of protein is indisputably meat. Incorporating lean meats, in particular, helps ensure a healthy diet by striking the best macronutrient balance.
What Is Lean Meat?
There are plenty of healthy, delectable options when it comes to eating lean meat. Turkey and chicken are perhaps the most well known, but some beef, pork, and fish products are also excellent sources of lean protein. In fact, red meat and fish are great sources of lean protein and other nutrients. Incorporating a variety of lean protein sources into your diet is the easiest way to make sure you’re getting all the essential components of a healthy diet.
USDA Lean and Extra Lean Meat Standards
The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently defines “lean meat” as containing less than 10 grams of fat, less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3 ounce serving. Meat with less than 5 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and the same amount of cholesterol qualifies as “extra lean”.
Lean Protein Sources
Lean beef comes in several forms. Lean ground beef, round, chuck, and sirloin are all great options for including healthy red meats in your diet, as are any cut of beef with “round” or “loin” in their name–such as tenderloin, top sirloin, and round tip.
Likewise, cuts of pork that have “leg” or “loin” in their name are great lean protein choices. All types of loin chops and roasts as well as tenderloin fall into the lean category, as do foreshanks, blade steak and veal cutlets.
Fish, especially those that contain Omega-3 fatty acids, are some of the healthiest options when it comes to lean sources of protein. The benefits of Omega-3′s are widely documented and include anti-inflammatory properties and improved cardiovascular health.
Of course, poultry can’t be neglected when it comes to developing a well rounded diet based on lean protein sources. Just don’t limit yourself to an exclusively poultry based diet and you will reap all the benefits that lean meats have to offer.
Why Eat Lean Meat
Nutrients like iron, riboflavin, and vitamin B6 that play critical functions in the body are all found in lean meats. These and other nutrients in lean meat are essential to optimal nervous system functioning, cardiovascular health, and metabolism. Avoiding fatty meats helps maximize the benefits of consuming meat and getting sufficient protein. Replace fatty meats with lean meats and you are sure to see a rise in energy levels, likely to lose weight, and less likely to have cardiovascular problems and heart attacks.
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