Sources of protein foods can be meats, fish, dairy products or soy products.
A limited source of protein are legumes like dried beans, peas or lentils.(As they do not contain all the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, they are also called “incomplete” proteins.)
Desirable protein foods are high in protein and low in fat. A good choice would be lean meat, such as cuts of beef and pork, chicken and turkey (with the skin removed before cooking, as it is high in undesirable fats). Another good choice are fish and seafoods.
Processed meats like hamburger are only an option, if their fat content is 10 % or less. You will want to choose the lean variety only! If you buy the somewhat less costly “regular” ground beef, you’ll not only buy a lot of undesirable fat. Besides you will likely drain and discard the fat when you cook it.You’ll wind up with less, and you have not saved money after all, but poured it down the drain! Cold sandwich meats can be of questionable value as a source of protein. Often they are too high in fat, too high in sodium, processed with sodium nitrite, and they are smoked.
Junk meats: Less desirable protein sources, also poisonous sodium nitrite/nitrate
Another hint: Ignore the hot dogs, wieners, sausage links, bologna and salami. Not only are they high in fat, but loaded with salt and sodium nitrite or nitrate, a common preservative in the meat processing industry. Sodium nitrate is a carcinogenic substance (which means: it causes cancer, but it also gives meat the illusion of freshness as it creates the wonderful fresh, red color appearance). Research has confirmed that it causes cancer of the oesophagus, the stomach and the bowel. You may think: small amounts can’t hurt much, and besides it is permitted in food processing. You better think twice: lots of substances are used, and even if the knowlege is out that they are harmful, it takes a long time and often a lot of disease, till the alarm goes off! You are the consumer, and it means Buyer Beware! Look out for lean sandwich meats (chicken breast, turkey breast), and read the labels. If you are at the deli counter and you cannot see the labels, ask before you buy. There are products without sodium nitrate.
Eggs are a good source of protein except that we have to monitor the egg yolk intake. You see, it is the egg white, which we should use more liberally. The egg yolk contains a substance called arachidonic acid, which is metabolized in our liver into bad cholesterol (=LDL cholesterol). This elevates cholesterol levels in our blood and gets oxidized by sugar. We still can enjoy an omelet: use 1 egg only and add 2 additional egg whites. Another possibility is to use organic egg white only, which is commercially available. This along with egg substitute, if this is your choice (check for ingredients), can be found in the refrigerated section of food stores.
Protein from dairy products is best chosen from the low-fat varieties: milk (1%), yogourt or cottage cheese (also available with 1% fat or less), cheeses with a low fat content(part-skim mozzarella can come in at a low 15% and string cheese is similar) There are other varieties, which are low in fat and tasty: Ricotta (10%), Provolone (24%), Cantenaar (18%), as well as the “light” versions of Cheddar, Swiss , and Gouda. If in doubt, ask at the deli counter. Avoid the high fat varieties like cream cheese, the double-creme varieties of Camembert or Brie and Mascarpone. While these are all sources of protein, the fat content has spiralled a little too high for your benefit!
Protein from soy beans has been consumed for centuries in Asia, mainly in China and in Japan. It is also an excellent choice for vegetarians. Tofu is the curd, which is derived from soy milk. It is available in various varieties: soft (for desserts) and firm. Some varieties come baked in a tomato sauce or in a spicy oriental Teriyaki Sauce. Tofu is a “chameleon” food: it is readily adaptable to various flavors. If you taste it without anything else added, you will find it probably too bland to be enjoyable. So experiment by adding your favorite spices, sauces and condiments!
The isoflavones, that occur in soy products have received a lot of positive press lately: flavonoids are useful to protect against cancer and heart disease. Soy milk as opposed to cow’s milk has the same benefits. It also offers an excellent alternative for people with lactose intolerance, who cannot drink cow’s milk. Products vary greatly. Some are quite high in carbohydrates,which is usually due to the addition of sugar. When you read the ingredients on the package, this is quite obvious. Also, the calorie content will be a whopping 150 calories per cup, as compared to milk, which has no more than 100 calories.Look for a product that is comparable to milk. Remember; you are looking for a source of protein and not for the extra sugar!
Another vegetable protein, Tempeh: This is an Indonesian product, which is also derived from soy. It is less commonly available, but Asian markets will carry it in the refrigerated or freezer section.
Also there are the products labelled TVP- short for textured vegetable protein. They are dry and have to be first reconstituted (soaked in water). They can be easily added to soups or stews. Their advantage is that they do not require any refrigeration.
Finally a growing number of soy products has turned up in the refrigerated or frozen section of our food markets: soy patties, burgers, soy hot dogs, sandwich slices and varieties that mimic chicken burgers and nuggets-except that they are all made of soy and are not deep-fried. You will discover a favorite by trying them out and experimenting. Soy is definitely not for vegetarians only. Its benefits are there for anybody!
When you cook meat, you want to make sure it s cooked all the way through, so that any bacteria that may have been present, are killed. On the other hand you do not want to create carcinogens, like heterocyclic amines by overcooking meat. Marinating meat is a good compromise that will help prevent carcinogen production.
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